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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Releases
Giving Voice to Victims

 

For immediate release
March 18, 2004

For more information
David Cerulli, Board Member, 917 757 1791 cell
David Clohessy, National Director, 314 566 9790 cell

Victims Group Questions Investigation of Abusive Brooklyn Priest

Bishop DiMarzio Keeps Three Accused Molesters in Ministry

He Needlessly Puts Children at Risk, SNAP Says

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is questioning the validity of an investigation conducted by the Diocese of Brooklyn on sexual abuse charges brought against the Rev. Vincent Gallo. Since the victim was never interviewed, SNAP believes the investigation is flawed.

In the letter from SNAP’s NYC leader, David Cerulli states, “After consulting with a law enforcement representative, SNAP was informed that the victim in an investigation is always interviewed, preferably first, before any other interviews are conducted.

“Further, it was pointed out that by using the results from an investigator, who is also an employee of the Brooklyn Diocese, you have created a very clear ‘conflict of interest’ and, therefore, in the words of one law enforcement official, ‘The report isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.’”

In a February 23, 2004 letter to Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio, SNAP called upon him to follow the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and remove Gallo and two other credibly accused priests from ministry.

“As we have seen all too often in the past, priests who abuse once often abuse again. It is too risky to keep priests with credible allegations of abuse in ministry and needlessly put more children at risk”, stated Cerulli.

“We strongly urge you to live up to the commitments you made in June of 2002 and permanently remove these priests from ministry. Only in this way can your actions equal your words on upholding the mandate of the Dallas Charter and truly exhibit your desire to protect children today and into the future.”

SNAP is the nation's largest self-help group for clergy abuse victims. It is based in Chicago and has 4,600 members.

Full text of SNAP letter follows:


SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
David Cerulli, SNAP NYC, 917-757-1791 cell

March 18, 2004

Most Reverend Nicholas A. DiMarzio
75 Green Avenue
P.O. Box C
Brooklyn, NY 11202

Dear Bishop DiMarzio,

On February 23, 2004 SNAP wrote to you regarding three priests left in ministry in the Brooklyn Diocese. You have yet to respond to our letter.

New York Newsday reported yesterday that Rev. Vincent Gallo has been cleared by you of the charges brought against him of sexually abusing a minor and will remain in ministry. The article also states that the victim was never interviewed by your investigator, a retired NYPD police officer.

After consulting with a law enforcement representative, SNAP was informed that the victim in an investigation is always interviewed, preferably first, before any other interviews are conducted.

Further, it was pointed out that by using the results from an investigator who is also an employee of the Brooklyn Diocese, you have created a very clear “conflict of interest” and, therefore, in the words of one law enforcement official, “The report isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”

As we have seen all too often in the past, priests who abuse once often abuse again. It is too risky to keep priests with credible allegations of abuse in ministry and needlessly put more children at risk. Therefore, we ask again that you remove Gallo and the other two priests, the Rev. Richard Lewkiewicz, and Rev.Hugo Bedoya, until an unbiased and complete investigation can be conducted.

We also ask that you publicly encourage any current or former parishioners or employees who have either experienced witnessed or suspected abuse by these clerics to contact law enforcement. Passively sitting back waiting for the phone to ring is not an investigation. Actively seeking information from knowledgeable parties is crucial.

In your press release, there is a section that refers to “misinformation” regarding whether an accused cleric is subject to immediate removal from ministry when an allegation is made. For your review, Article 5 from the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People follows:

ARTICLE 5. We repeat the words of our Holy Father in his Address to the Cardinals of the United States and Conference Officers: "There is no place in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm the young."

When an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or a deacon is received, a preliminary investigation, in harmony with canon law (CIC, cc. 1717-1719; CCEO, cc. 1468-1470), will be initiated and conducted promptly and objectively. If this investigation so indicates, the diocesan/eparchial bishop will both notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and apply the precautionary measures mentioned in CIC, canon 1722, or CCEO, canon 1473—i.e., relieve the alleged offender promptly of his ministerial duties. The alleged offender may be requested to seek, or urged voluntarily to comply with, an appropriate medical and psychological evaluation, so long as this does not interfere with the investigation by civil authorities. When the accusation has proved to be unfounded, every step possible will be taken to restore the good name of the priest or deacon.

We in SNAP believe that it is imperative to err on the side of protecting children and promptly remove priests accused of sexual abuse. Article 5 begins with a quote from Pope John Paul II that makes clear the reasons for the careful treatment of abuse allegations, “There is no place in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm the young.”

In our previous letter we asked that you send out notices in the diocesan newspaper, on the diocesan web site, and in local parish bulletins urging others who were hurt by abusive priests to come forward, report the crimes and get help. In order for victims to have the opportunity to choose help from other than diocesan services, we are also asking that you place notices for SNAP Support Group meetings in the same diocesan media sources. A sample notice is copied at the end of this letter.

Keeping these priests in active ministry is an obvious violation of the Dallas Charter in which you and your fellow bishops pledged a 'zero tolerance' policy toward sexual abuse. We strongly urge you to live up to the commitments you made in June of 2002 and permanently remove these priests from ministry. Only in this way can your actions equal your words on upholding the mandate of the Dallas Charter and truly exhibit your desire to protect children today and into the future.

Sincerely,

David Cerulli

917-757-1791 cell
National Board of Directors and
Director, New York City Area
Survivors Network of those
Abused by Priests (SNAP)

cc: Kathleen McChesney, Executive Director
Office of Child and Youth Protection

Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory, President
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

 




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


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