The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
to Bishop Driscoll of Boise, ID
May 31, 2005
May 31, 2005
Most Reverend Michael Driscoll
In the recent coverage of your track record on abuse cases, one sentence from the Los Angeles Times says it all: "Driscoll admitted in depositions that he never warned Orange County parishioners that a molesting priest was in their midst, at times didn't interview the alleged victims, didn't seek out additional victims and never reported the accusations to police."
Not once regarding Orange County cases when you worked there. Not once regarding Orange County cases after you left there and came to Idaho. And apparently not once during your time here.
You have attempted to justify such disregard for public safety with vague references to "the way we handled cases at that time" and "the focus at that time . . . to help to priests continue in their vocations."
But even back in the 1970s, child sexual abuse was a crime. You knew it. Yet you refused to contact the police.
The same is true in the 1980s, the 1990s, and up until today. Yet still, you apparently never once called the police about any of the known sex offending clerics you supervised in California.
Sadly, once arriving in Boise, your penchant for secrecy and your disregard for the safety of your flock has apparently continued. The Howell case is of course the clearest indication that your harmful behaviors in Orange County continue today.
When the Orange County records were about to become released, you issued a carefully crafted years overdue apology that was long on generalities and short on specifics.
You could have talked openly of your hurtful actions. Instead, you've now retreated into silence. You could have"come clean" about your track record. Instead, you've chosen to hire a public relations firm.
But well orchestrated apologies do not safeguard children. Only courageous, decisive action safeguard children.
For the sake of your flock, we strongly urge you to:
--- Use your diocesan web site, newspaper and church bulletins to promptly and publicly tell parishioners about Deacon Howell and prod others with knowledge of his crimes to call police and prosecutors,
--- Use the same resources to reach out to anyone hurt by any other Idaho Catholic church employee, (current or former)
--- Visit parishes where proven, admitted or credibly accused abusive clerics worked, spreading the same message
--- Encourage anyone who witnessed, suspected or experienced sex crimes in your diocese to contact law enforcement (not church officials), and
--- Support legislation that would give Idaho sex abuse victims the same opportunity California sex abuse victims had - a one year "window" during which victims could expose their molesters in civil courts, thus warning others who may be at risk about potentially dangerous predators.
As you know Bishop, we are a self-help support group of men and women who have been victimized by clergy. Our first goal is to heal those who have already been wounded. But for many of us, our recovery is closely linked to prevention. We want to make sure that no child suffers like we have, the horror of being sexually abused by church leaders. We hope you will show by your deeds, not your words, that you share this goal.
Time and time again, Bishop, first in California, later in Idaho, you have opted for secrecy over openness, and for protecting accused offenders over vulnerable families.
We urge you to take actions that protect children and prevent abuse in the future, rather than actions that protect abusers and perpetuate abuse. We look forward to your reply.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests