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Sex Abuse Victims Want Detroit Church Official Deposed
They Deplore Latest Catholic Church Defense Maneuver
Maida's No. #2 Man Scheduled For Sworn Testimony Next Week
Cardinal's Goal, However, Is Continued Secrecy, SNAP Says
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is deploring a move to stop the planned deposition of a high ranking local Catholic church official this/next week.
Defense lawyers for the Detroit archdiocese filed a motion Dec. 29 to prevent a scheduled Jan. 12 deposition of Auxiliary Bishop Walter A. Hurley. Hurley has been Cardinal Adam Maida's "point man" on the sexual abuse cases for years.
"Catholics deserve the truth, especially about complicit church officials and how often they put innocent children at risk of being sexually assaulted," said David Clohessy of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "The only way that truth might ever surface is by putting church bureaucrats under oath in a court of law."
On Dec. 21, a 2-1 Michigan Court of Appeals ruling made it harder for those who were molested to seek justice in court. In the wake of that, church defense lawyers James J. Walsh and Thomas Van Dusen have formally asked Judge Robert J. Colombo, Jr. to stop Hurley's deposition.
But Maida's defense team is misusing that ruling, Clohessy believes. "These cases are apples and oranges," he said. "As long as there's even one clergy sex abuse victim still seeking truth and justice in the courts, Hurley's deposition is critical. And his fear of being put under oath shows that he and other church officials have plenty to hide."
In Oct. Clohessy and other SNAP leaders wrote to Maida, urging him to stop relying on questionable "legal technicalities" in cases involving abusive clergy. Maida has not responded to their letter.
Several times, Maida has sought to have civil sex abuse lawsuits against Detroit area priests tossed out because of the statute of limitations. SNAP maintains that church officials should not "hide behind" a "restriction that encourages abusers and their supervisors to destroy evidence, intimidate witnesses and threaten victims."
"If you insist on fighting men who were raped and sodomized by an abusive priest, at least have the decency to fight fair, and not fight dirty," said Clohessy. "Fight on the merits, not on technicalities and loopholes like the archaic and dangerously restrictive statute of limitations."
"Catholics desperately want to believe that bishops are being more sensitive to victims," said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP's President. "But Catholics need to see real change, not just lip service. Stopping legal hardball and letting Hurley tell what he knows is an ideal way for Maida to show he's learned from his past failures."
SNAP is the nation's oldest and largest support group for victims of clergy sexual abuse with support groups in over 60 cities nation wide.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests