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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letters

Letter to Dr. Jan Daehnert

March 18, 2008

Dear Dr. Daehnert:

In your online February 29th open letter, you asked people to let you know if the Baptist General Convention of Texas is “dropping any balls.” You are, and you have been for too long.

As you know, for at least the past 8 years, the Baptist General Convention of Texas has maintained a file of ministers reported by churches for sexual abuse, including child molestation. According to your own published policy, these are ministers who have either confessed or for whom there was “substantial evidence the abuse took place” or for whom the abuse was “confirmed” by churches.

We beg you to consider the moral implications of keeping those names in a closed file. Keeping those names secret keeps kids at risk.

We realize that you prefer to call it a “confidential” file rather than a “secret” file. However, whatever word you use, the reality remains that this critical information is not being disclosed to the people who most need to know – i.e., the parents who sit in the pews of Baptist churches.

Because you have previously attempted to justify the file’s secrecy by saying that it protected the identity of victims, we would simply point out that victims’ identities can easily be preserved while still disclosing the identities of reported clergy-perpetrators. Secrecy for the sake of the victims is an excuse that simply doesn’t fly.

We request that you make the safety of kids the highest priority by using the media resources of the Baptist General Convention of Texas to make public the names of the ministers in that file.

Sixteen Catholic dioceses have made public the names of admitted, proven and credibly accused priests. The Baptist General Convention of Texas should do likewise and make public the names of ministers in that file that you yourself previously maintained in the office of minister/church relations.

Specifically, we request the following actions: (1) Immediately post on the BGCT’s website and in the Baptist Standard the names of ministers in that file so that others can be warned; (2) Locate the whereabouts of the ministers in that file and inform the people in the pews of every church in which a file-listed minister has worked about the reported abuse in his past; (3) Turn over to secular authorities all names and materials in that file so that criminal investigations can at least be considered; (4) Begin receiving, reviewing and archiving sexual abuse reports received from the victims themselves and not merely reports received from church officials.

For the safety of kids and the sanctity of congregations, the Baptist General Convention of Texas should take action now, without waiting until it is finally pressured into it by investigative journalists, brave victims and outraged church-goers. Many more kids and congregants will likely have been hurt by then.

David Clohessy
SNAP National Director
(314) 566-9790 / snapclohessy@aol.com

Christa Brown
SNAP Baptist Outreach Director
(512) 217-1730 / christa@stopbaptistpredators.org

Barbara Dorris
SNAP Outreach Director
(314) 862-7688 / snapdorris@gmail.com


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org