The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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SNAP Urges Catholic Bishop To Reach Out To Other Possible Victims
Sex Abuse Victims Reached $6 Million Settlement Last Month
Santa Rosa Bishop's Help Is Sought With One Molester Who Works In Sonoma
Other Two Offenders Have Not Yet Been Disclosed
For 3rd Time Recently, Bay Area Pedophile Priests' Names Are Kept Secret
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging Santa Rosa Catholic officials to reach out to anyone who may have witnessed or experienced sexual abuse by an ex-cleric now living in Sonoma who's been accused of molesting boys.
Yesterday's Contra Costa Times disclosed that Joseph Gutierrez, "a charismatic former teacher and a former therapist " has changed his name to Jesse Gutierrez-Cervantes and runs a consulting firm.
He is one of three Bay Area Catholic clergymen against whom $6.3 million dollar settlements were paid last month by the Christian Brothers.
The organization, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) is urging Santa Rosa Bishop Daniel Walsh (whose jurisdiction includes Sonoma) to put notices in church bulletins, the diocesan newspaper and on the diocesan web site, urging Victims of Gutierrez to come forward.
Last month, concerning all three alleged molesters, SNAP made the same request of Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron and the Christian Brothers. SNAP has received no response from them.
Until the Times story yesterday, Gutierrez' name had never been exposed publicly as possible molester.
"This dangerous man still walks the streets, children are still vulnerable and parents are still unaware of his crimes. That should weigh heavily on your conscience," SNAP's letter to Walsh says.
At a news conference today in Oakland, SNAP is urging Oakland Catholics to stop donating to the dicoese and insist that the names of three abusive clerics be made public.
"One of these predators obviously still works and lives in California. The other two probably still walk free as well," said David Clohessy of St. Louis. He is the national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a self-help group. "Catholic officials -- in Oakland, in Santa Rosa and in the Christian Brothers -- are putting families at risk by keeping the identity of these molesters secret or by not assertively reaching out to other possible victims and witnesses."
Clohessy said that Gutierrez might be criminally prosecuted, especially if church officials encourage current and former parishioners and employees to reveal what they know of Gutierrez to police and prosecutors.
This is the third time in two months that the names and locations of known Bay Area abusive clergy have created controversy.
For weeks dozens of citizens in Oakland's Rockridge neighborhood have pressured Vigneron and the Dominican religious order to give information about seven sex offenders who have quietly moved into a church-run housing center in a residential community.
And on December 12, the San Jose Mercury News reported that a San Francisco archdiocesan official admitted that they too house admitted and suspected child molesting clergy, but disclosed no details. http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/mercurynews/living/religion/10399496.htm
In each instance, SNAP has written to church leaders pleading for greater disclosure.
Referring to last month's Christian Brothers' settlement, Dan McNevin of Emoryville said "Helping those who have been severely hurt and are still hurting is important." McNevin directs the Bay Area chapter of SNAP. "But helping to prevent future abuse is more important. And unless church officials tell us who the molesters are, families are very vulnerable,' he said.
The Christian Brothers operate De La Salle High School in Concord, where much of the abuse took place. Three molesters were employees of the school.
"We hope the settlement helps these brave men achieve some degree of healing and closure," said Clohessy. "We are grateful they found the courage and strength to report these crimes, seek justice in the courts, and educate others about these horrific betrayals."
Still, Clohessy said he hopes all three entities - Oakland's bishop, Oakland's review board, and the Christian Brothers - will "let parents and the public know who these dangerous men are, so that children can be protected." Most abusive clergy, he said, do not end up behind bars. "So as long as molesters walk the streets and no one knows, kids are at risk," he said.
In an interview with the New York Times, the victims' attorney says one of the Christian Brothers' abusers "has left the order (Gutierrez), another is in a Catholic church facility that works with pedophiles and the whereabouts of the third are unknown."
The lawsuits were filed in December 2003. The crimes occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, at the school and on trips away from the school. The settlements were announced in the 12/24/04 San Francisco Chronicle.
Each of the victims were given marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms, or quaaludes by their molesters during or before the crimes took place.
"We understand that during negotiations, the Christian Brothers disclosed some long-hidden documents about these terrible crimes," said Clohessy. "They should be commended for so. Many victims can't really recover and many parents can't safeguard their kids unless the full truth about abuser and those who shielded them is revealed."
Still, "the order has a moral duty to warn parents and safeguard kids right now by naming the abusers and telling there whereabouts," McNevin stressed.
SNAP leaders are urging others who have been molested by Christian Brothers or other area clerics to contact their self-help group, law enforcement officials or therapists.
SNAP is the nation's oldest and largest self-help group for men and women victimized by clergy.
A copy of SNAP's letter to the Walsh, sent today by e mail and fax, is below:
January 24, 2005
Dear Bishop Walsh:
We, the members of SNAP, (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) are very troubled that an ex-cleric and alleged child molester, Joseph Gutierrez, is currently living in Sonoma. Gutierrez, has changed his name to Jesse Gutierrez-Cervantes and is now running a consulting firm in Sonoma. In the interest of openness, healing and prevention, we are urging you to reach out to anyone in your diocese and Sonoma who may have witnessed or experienced sexual abuse by Gutierrez.
Gutierrez is one of three Bay Area Catholic clerics against whom $6.3 million dollar settlements were paid last month by the Christian Brothers.
Last month, we also wrote the Christian Brothers and your fellow bishop in Oakland urging them to disclose the names of the three molesters and to reach out to victims in their jurisdictions and have yet to receive a response to our request for help.
Many victims can't really recover and many parents can't safeguard their kids unless the full truth about the abusers and those who shielded them is revealed. Worse, the Christian Brothers and Bishop Allen Vigneron have retreated back into the same non-responsive pattern of ignoring victims' pleas for help, refusing to take simple and effective steps to prevent others from being hurt by these men, which created this mess to begin with.
In light of this, we are specifically urging you to:
- put notices in all your church bulletins, your diocesan newspaper, and on your diocesan web site about Gutierrez's history and current whereabouts and encourage victims to come forward and seek therapy.
- personally visit each parish in Sonoma, and make strong personal appeals to witnesses and victims to come forward. SNAP members are willing to go to these parishes with you and share their own stories of how they found the strength and courage to come forward and getting help.
- prod your fellow bishop in Oakland and the Christian Brothers to do likewise.
-publicly reach out through the secular news media to help safeguard unsuspecting citizens in Sonoma who likely have already been exposed to Gutierrez.
The goal is simple: to help ensure that those already wounded can heal, safeguard those at risk now and reach out to those still trapped by the abuse, suffering in guilt, shame and isolation so that they can come forward and get help and know that they are not alone.
The fact that this dangerous man still walks the streets, children are still vulnerable and parents are still unaware of his crimes should weigh heavily on your conscience. We believe that you have a Christian duty to inform parishioners in your diocese of his history and help victims and witnesses feel safe coming forward. We urge you again to take prompt steps now to try to reach out to anyone who may have been harmed by Gutierrez or witnesses that can help put this dangerous man behind bars.
We look forward to your response.
David Clohessy of St. Louis,
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests