The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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Sex Abuse Victims Urge Other Shanley Witnesses, Victims To Step Forward
SNAP Expresses Confidence In Prosecutors
Group Hopes Church Staffers With Evidence & Knowledge Will Speak Up
Leaders of a support group for clergy molestation victims are urging "anyone who experienced, witnessed or suspected abuse by Paul Shanley" to come forward to law enforcement.
At the same time, they experessed confidence that Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley will prevail in the upcoming criminal trial against the former Boston cleric.
In particular, the SNAP leaders believe that current and former priests and church employees "have a moral duty to share what they know of Shanley's crimes with police and prosecutors," according to the group's national director David Clohessy of St. Louis.
"There's no reason the burden of protecting innocent kids and vulnerable adults from Shanley should fall solely on his victims," he said. "It's time for some archdiocesan priests and lay employees to find some backbone and break the clerical culture of secrecy so that others can be safeguarded."
Clohessy pointed to the trial of a Missouri priest, Fr. Bryan Kuchar. who initially remained free when a jury deadlocked in a 2003 criminal molestation trial. St. Louis County prosecutors persisted, however, and found three new witnessed - a Catholic lay employee, a nun, and a priest - who testified against Kuchar in a second.trial. The cleric was eventually convicted and is in jail serving a three year sentence.
"When it comes to prosecuting predators, we believe that "where there's a will, there's a way," said Clohessy. "But Kuchar's victim and his family could have been spared considerable agony had church workers done their civic duty and come forward voluntarily at the beginning."
"Coakley is a veteran prosecutor, and we have every reason to believe that she'll succeed here," said Ann Hagan Webb of Wellesely, SNAP's New England co-coordinator. "While Shanley's high-priced lawyer has been posturing in the press, we suspect Coakley has been thoroughly preparing for trial ."
At the same time, Webb expressed concern for Shanley's victims.
"Any legal process is tough," she said. "We're grateful for the courage and strength Shanley survivors have displayed and continue to display. They are genuine heroes."
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests