SNAP blasts WV bishop's abuse denial
We’re disappointed that Bishop Bransfield is:
- apparently still not forcing his priest, Fr. Kevin Quirk, to testify at the trial in Philadelphia (as requested by prosecutors),
- has issued a written statement, instead of taking questions openly, about the child sex allegations against him,
- is apparently ignoring the allegation that he had a “lewd conversation” with a child,
- refusing to answer the allegation that he brought kids to the beach house he owns
- is only now making statements, seven years after it was first disclosed, about his alleged ownership of property with a child-molesting cleric, and
- continues to attack the judicial system and the judge and prosecutors in Philadelphia, especially since this is a trial that he has not attended. He apparently feels comfortable, from a distance, calling it a “circus.” But yesterday, he refused (through his lawyers) to respond to sworn testimony from that trial (he called the testimony “rumors.”)
The bishop also complains that his seminary is being “connected” to the priest abuse scandal (the truth is that dozens of former seminarians from there have been accused of abuse, including Fr. William Ayres, Fr. Edward Avery, Fr. Michael Bolesta, Fr. Robert Brennan, Fr. Gerard Chambers, Fr. John Close, Fr. James Coonan, Fr. Nicholas Cudemoo, Fr. John Delli Carpini, Fr.Philip Dowling, Fr. Peter Dunne, Fr. Thomas Durkin, Msgr. Francis Giliberti, and Fr. James McGuire, Fr. Leonard Furmanski, Fr. Francis Gallagher, Fr. Joseph Gallagher, Fr. John Gillespie, Fr. Thomas Grumm, Fr. Gerard Hoffman, Fr. James Iannarella, Fr. William T. Joseph, Fr. Thomas Kohler, Fr. Matthew Kornacki, Fr. Albert Kostelnick, Fr. Edward Kuczynski, Fr. Joseph McKenzie, and Fr. Richard McLoughlin. So no one’s “connecting” the seminary to abuse – many former seminarians have, in fact, abused.)
It’s important to remember that both accusers gave testimony yesterday under oath. Bransfield didn’t.
Both accusers let themselves be questioned, in public, by lawyers from both sides. Bransfield didn’t.
Both accusers are cooperating with the legal process. Bransfield isn’t.
For the past decade, church officials have repeatedly claimed that they fully cooperate with law enforcement. According to official church policy, they are required to do so. Yet Bransfield is refusing to order Quirk to testify in a pending criminal trial.
We believe Bransfield is violating the US bishops’ sex abuse policy by his refusal, and casting further doubt on his own claims about child sex abuse and cover ups in the church.
Every day that Bransfield refuses to make Fr. Quirk testify, he is helping to keep alleged clergy sex crimes and cover-ups covered up. We have to wonder what Bransfield fears about Fr. Quirk’s testimony.
Two other points bear mentioning.
It’s silly for Bransfield to claim he has “openly been an advocate for the eradication of the abusive behavior of priests.” Really? Who isn’t? That’s just public relations pabulum.
Finally, it’s pathetic for him to posture like he’s been victimized because he didn’t get some kind of special treatment from the justice system. He criticizes “the manner in which (the allegations) were released” as “way beyond any sense of fairness and propriety” and that they were “publicly released by the media without my knowledge or input.
Bransfield’s a smart man. He’s known, for years, about the Philly grand jury report that mentions him, and about the trial. He knows that reporters attend trials and write about what’s said. He knew, or should have known, what witness was being called yesterday. So his claim of being “shocked” rings more than a little hollow.
(Bransfield now has a chance for “input” into the trial of his Philly colleagues – he can insist that his priest Fr. Quirk attend and testify.)
We urge West Virginia citizens and Catholics to keep open minds. If someone feels compelled to support or defend Bransfield, we hope he or she will do so appropriately and not attack the accusers. Bring him cookies, pray with him, send him notes, but please, do not publicly rush and rally to his defense. That kind of callous behavior intimidates others who have seen, suspected and suffered child sex crimes. It deters them from speaking up, getting help, calling police, exposing wrongdoing and protecting children.
Read the story here: http://www.wvmetronews.com/news.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=52228
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.