We belong to a confidential, independent support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
We’re here today with several messages for several audiences.
We’re here to thank the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the federal agency that is removing kids from church run facilities in the wake of the recent horror at St. Michaels home.
We’re here to blast Catholic Charities officials for their extraordinary callousness and recklessness in this case.
We’re here to urge local prosecutors to launch grand jury investigations into Catholic Charities facilities, and
We’re here to prod Houston’s top Catholic official to “use his considerable resources” to seek out and offer help to others who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes at church institutions.
Finally, we’re here to beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police and prosecutors so wrongdoers can be convicted and future wrongdoing can be prevented.
Earlier this week, the Houston Chronicle disclosed that a federal agency investigated recent actions by Houston Catholic Charities officials at the St. Michaels Home for Children in north Houston.
The investigation found that Catholic Charities officials
-- “deliberately misled” investigators,
-- “had full knowledge of the extent of the assaults (on) and anal penetration (of) a child,”
-- delayed reporting the crime,
-- “submitted erroneous … reports,”
-- tried to pressure other employees to not to disclose details of the incident to "protect the program."
--gave the child victim medical care “only the after they were ordered to do so by federal officials.”
Read that last sentence slowly please: gave the child victim medical care “only the after they were ordered to do so by federal officials.”
Keep in mind who we’re talking about here. An eight year old child. From another country. Who is hundreds of miles from home. Who may not speak English. Who’s been taken from his or her family. Who probably stands about four feet tall. Who probably weighs 50 to 60 pounds, about as much as two golf bags. And who was, just weeks ago, anally penetrated and then essentially ignored by those who were paid to take care of vulnerable kids.
We’re here today seeking two steps that will better protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
We want local authorities to investigate these employees and prosecute all those who were complicit in the abuse or the cover-up to the fullest extent possible. Our message to local prosecutors is simple – don’t focus strictly on those who commit child sex crimes. Go after those who ignore, conceal and enable child sex crimes. By investigating and hopefully charging employees who callously protected a predator and essentially punished a victim, prosecutors can help deter such irresponsible, hurtful misdeeds by others who work with kids.
We also want Cardinal Daniel DiNardo to use his archdiocesan website, church bulletins, and parish pulpit announcement to “aggressively seek out” other kids who may have been hurt at the centers and harshly discipline staff who refused the child care, delayed reporting the crime and deceived federal investigators. (Reportedly, one Catholic Charities staffer has been fired. That’s woefully inadequate, given the egregious wrongdoing that’s clearly been found here.)
DiNardo is on the board of Catholic Charities and is responsible for the safety of all church members and facilities in the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese. He must not stay silent. He must take clear, decisive, public action to help this child and others who’ve been assaulted and betrayed in church settings.
(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 23 years and have more than 10,000 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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)