The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release:
July 21, 2005
Abuse Group Criticizes Riverside DA/Dioceses Sex Abuse Secret Deal
Whose Child Was Endangered to Protect a Molester? SNAP Asks
A support group for
clergy abuse victims is criticizing the Riverside District Attorney for their
"gangster-era backroom deal" with the Diocese of San Bernadino to keep
secret convicted abusive priest Jesse Dominguezs personnel file. The secret
meeting, held in Judge Russell Schooling's chambers without the judge present
to evaluate or mediate, resulted in keeping the personnel files of convicted serial
molester Fr. Jesse Dominguez secret, even though they may hold evidence that could
help save other victims in Riverside and surrounding areas and keep children safe
from abuse. (See article below)
Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), is writing Riverside County DA Grover
Trask to urge him to cease any secret agreements with San Bernardino Bishop Gerald
Barnes. To date, Barnes has been unwilling to release Dominguez's personnel records
to local prosecutors. In spite of police warrant and public safety concerns, Bishop
Barnes claims he's afraid Dominguez will sue him for privacy violations (Press-Enterprise
article, 3/8/05). It has also been suggested that Dominguez's file would be embarrassing
to Former Bishop Philip Straling, now the retired bishop of Reno, Nevada, for
whom Dominguez worked as a personal assistant from 1978 - 1993.
"Unless this secret agreement is immediately nullified and made public, the DA and the Diocese are telling parents that molesters are more important than their children's safety, especially if there is embarrassing information in a molester's protected secret file that could implicate a powerful local leader," the letter concluded.
SNAPs letter sent via fax and e-mail to District Attorney Trask is below.
July 21, 2005
Mr. Grover Trask, District Attorney
Fr. Jesse Dominguez and any men who allowed him to molest children are criminals. As such, their crimes, files and other information must be public in order to protect the innocent children who are still at severe risk of sexual abuse.
Your secret agreement is tantamount to the FBI striking a deal with Al Capone. Since when is it acceptable to protect molesters and the men who allowed them to abuse? Why does the Church think it is above the law? Whose safety was sold to protect the diocese? Whose child was endangered?
Secret "gangster-era" deals do not comply with the law, because neither judge nor jury was there to evaluate the deal, the consequences and the risks to the children of Riverside.
We encourage you to immediately nullify this deal, make Jesse Dominguez's files public, and uphold the law that keeps children safe from sexual predators.
We strongly suspect that the dioceses secret deal is another attempt to manipulate and undermine your credibility and efforts to locate, arrest, and prosecute Fr. Jessie Dominguez and other molesters. Worse, we believe that church officials will also be shielded from accountability for covering-up sex crimes in the church with a private plea bargain disguised as a protocol agreement with prosecutors. Don't allow your office to be compromised to protect a few guilty men.
deal struck to protect the files of Fr. Dominguez will be seen as a deal paved
on the bodies of innocent children. It didn't work in San Francisco and it will
not work in Riverside.
Don't sell the safety
of the children of Riverside County - release the files and protect children.
No church or church leader is above the law.
Prosecutors, diocese mum on details
EX-PRIEST'S FILE: The record was seized during the execution of a search warrant in January.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Riverside County prosecutors decided Wednesday not to discuss details of an agreement they reached with the Diocese of San Bernardino over a defrocked priest's personnel file, which was seized by authorities in January.
The decision not to release details came during a meeting of Riverside County district attorney's officials, spokeswoman Ingrid Wyatt said. Diocesan officials did not participate in the meeting, she said.
The Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the million-member diocese, encompassing Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said the diocese is also not discussing the accord.
The file, which remains sealed before a Riverside County judge, was confiscated Jan. 25 when authorities served a search warrant at the diocese's San Bernardino headquarters as part of their investigation into Jesús Armando Dominguez, a former priest now facing 58 child-molestation charges.
Diocesan lawyers contested the search warrant, the first ever served on the diocese's offices, saying it violated federal and state law and that some of the seized records are privileged.
Last week, prosecutors and an attorney for the diocese were scheduled to argue in court about whether the file should be returned unopened to the diocese. Instead, prosecutors and a diocesan attorney spent three hours behind closed doors in Riverside County Superior Court Judge Russell Schooling's chambers without the judge being present.
Court records indicate the two sides reached an agreement, but Schooling ordered it sealed.
No additional court hearings are scheduled.
Dominguez, 56, is accused of sexually abusing two teenage boys at Catholic churches in Coachella and Perris in the late 1980s.
He is believed to have fled to Mexico. Dominguez, who quit the priesthood in 2000, worked in the diocese from 1978 to 1993.
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Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests