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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

For immediate release:

July 21, 2005

For more information:
Joelle Casteix, SNAP Southwest Regional Director (949) 322-7434
Mary Grant, SNAP Western Regional Director (626) 419-2930

Sex Abuse Group Criticizes Riverside DA/Diocese’s Sex Abuse Secret Deal

San Bernardino Bishop Refuses To Comply with Law and Release Molester's File to Police

Time to Stop Gangster-era Backroom Deals that Protect Criminals, SNAP Demands

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 Dominguez’s 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)

"This is tantamount to the FBI striking a deal with Al Capone," the letter states. "Since when is it acceptable to protect molesters and the men who allowed them to abuse?"

The Survivors 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.

The group is also highly skeptical of Barnes' secret "protocol" with the district attorney that would dictate what information about Dominguez would be turned over. "Why does the Church think it is above the law?" the letter asks. "Whose safety was sold to protect the diocese? Whose child was endangered?"

Dominguez now faces 58 counts of child molestation. SNAP maintains that the continued cover-up is a part of the Bishop's plan to protect molesters and keep children in Riverside County and the Diocese of San Bernadino at grave risk of sexual molestation.

"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.

SNAP’s letter sent via fax and e-mail to District Attorney Trask is below.

July 21, 2005

Mr. Grover Trask, District Attorney
Riverside County
4075 Main Street
Riverside, CA 92501

Dear Mr. Trask:

We the members of SNAP, (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) wish to publicly express our outrage at your recent "secret deal" with the San Bernadino Diocese.

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 diocese’s 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.

Any 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.

As a support group of men and women victimized by clergy, we are deeply concerned about the protection of children. We implore you to pursue Fr. Dominguez and church officials’ files to bring him and other perpetrators to justice. We urge you to continue to investigate and prosecute known and suspected child molesters and their alleged accomplices to the fullest extent of the law, even if the suspects are Catholic priests and their bishops. Unless this secret agreement is immediately nullified and made public, the DA is 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 powerful local leaders.

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.

Respectfully,


Joelle Casteix
SNAP Southwestern Regional Director
jcasteix@adelphia.net or (949) 322-7434

Mary Grant
SNAP Western Regional Director
mgrantsnap@earthlink.net or (626) 419-2930

************************************************

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.

http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_P_agree21.334bb54.html

Copyright ©The Press-Enterprise

 


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


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