SD--Records on SD predator priest to be released
For immediate release: Thursday, Jan. 29
South Dakota citizens and Catholics will learn much more about a predatory priest who worked in the state thanks to a court ruling issued yesterday.
A Minnesota judge has ordered two Catholic dioceses to turn over long-secret records about Fr. James Vincent Fitzgerald to attorneys who represent child sex abuse victims.
In 2010, a civil lawsuit was filed against the Sioux City Iowa Diocese, Oblates & Sisters of the Divine Savior alleging that Fr. Fitzgerald sexually assaulted a boy and a girl in the 1960s at the Tekakwitha Indian Mission in Sisseton, SD. (In 2013 and 2014, Fr. Fitzgerald was named in other civil suits for allegedly molesting other kids in Minnesota, where he worked in three dioceses: Duluth, Crookston and New Ulm).
We are grateful to the brave Minnesota victim whose litigation led to yesterday’s decision. And we’re grateful to Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann for ruling for openness and against secrecy.
Kids are safest when parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public know more about those who commit and conceal child sex crimes.
So we call on Sioux Falls Bishop Paul J. Swain to use his vast church resources to aggressively seek out anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered Fr. Fitzgerald’s crimes. Parish bulletins, church websites, and pulpit announcements should be used to seek out anyone else who might have been sexually assaulted by this serial predator priest.
More information about Fr. Fitzgerald is available at BishopAccountability.org
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.