For immediate release: Monday, March 10, 2014
For more information: David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Director (314) 566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com
Sex abuse victims seek help from five bishops
Convicted pedophile priest now runs a church
He faces three known accusers, all in Colorado
Cleric plead guilty to a felony & has been sued twice
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is asking Catholic bishops in five states to warn their flocks about a convicted predator priest who now heads a non-denominational North Carolina church.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are asking bishops in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Colorado to “spread the word” about William Groves, an ex-priest who pled guilty to molesting a boy in 1990 in Pueblo, Colorado.
“Groves has worked in each of these dioceses and had access to children. We feel these bishops have a duty to use their resources to urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered abuse by Groves to come forward and report to police,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of SNAP. “That kind of outreach is the best way to help parents protect their kids and help police catch pedophiles.”
Groves is now the paid president of the Spiritual Light Center (80 Heritage Hollow Drive, 828-369- 3065 - slcfranklin@ frontier.com) in Franklin, North Carolina. For years, Catholic officials claim they didn’t know where he was.
In November, Groves reportedly tried to persuade his church to start a children's program. He has also claimed to be a drug and alcohol counselor. Reportedly, Groves left the priesthood after his second lawsuit involving a minor.
“Bishops hire, train and transfer priests, their responsibility should not end after priests leave the priesthood,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP's outreach director. “We hope these bishops will show real courage and compassion by working hard to find and help other victims who continue to suffer in silence, shame and self-blame.”
“Sadly, the culture of secrecy about and cover up of pedophile priests by Catholic officials is long-standing and on-going,” said David Fortwengler of Charlotte, a SNAP volunteer.
“No matter who heads a particular diocese, it will take continued and increased vigilance and skepticism and courage to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded” added Neil Evans of Asheville, another SNAP volunteer.
“It's a travesty to see a man like this find his way back into a spiritual setting with the possibility of being in the company of the vulnerable,” said Charles L. Bailey, Jr. of Charlotte, a SNAP volunteer leader. “We have to stand up and be their advocates as they cannot. We know better and therefore have a duty to do better. We must protect all children and the vulnerable from predators, anything less is shameful.”
Other officers at the Franklin church include Kay Smith (vice president, 828-369-8741), Millard Deutsch (secretary), Linda Ramsey (treasurer 828-524-0672), Arthur Cataldo (vice-treasurer, 828-349-3618), and Raymond Braziel (trustee at large, 828-369-3273 , 282-349-0913).
A copy of SNAP’s letter, sent today by email and fax to all five bishops, is below.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 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)
March 10, 2014
Dear Bishop ____:
We are members of a support group called SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. We are begging you to do this as well, by taking decisive action to safeguard kids, instead of just posturing and promising the way most bishops do.
Specifically, we hope you will expose and punish any church staffers who ignored or concealed child sex crimes and aggressively seek out others who have been hurt by Fr. William Groves (who worked in these states: Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Colorado)
Two months ago, we in SNAP learned that William Groves is now the paid president of the Spiritual Light Center in Franklin, North Carolina. For years, Catholic officials claim they didn’t know where he was.
In 1990, Groves pleaded guilty to one felony involving a 14 year old boy. In 2009, several men sued the Pueblo Diocese, saying that Groves molested them as kids.
You should aggressively reach out to anyone else who may have seen, suspected or suffered Grove’s crimes.
It’s irresponsible and selfish for bishops to recruit, educate, ordain, hire, train and protect predator priests, but do nothing when they’re caught and refuse to warn other vulnerable families about them.
Groves told several members of the North Carolina church that he is an ex-priest, though he claimed to have retired. Recently, Groves also told some at the Center that he wanted to start a children’s program at the church. This is extremely troubling given his background.
We hope you will show real courage and compassion by working hard to find and help other victims who continue to suffer in silence, shame and self-blame.
David Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell (SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Barbara Dorris, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com