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SNAP
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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

For immediate release:
September 15, 2005

Contact:
Joelle Casteix, SNAP Southwest Regional Director, (858) 882-7452
Mary Grant, SNAP Western Regional Director, (626) 419-2930

Sex Abuse Victims Write San Diego Bishop About Convicted Sex Offender

Catholic Officials Dumped Predator Priest in San Diego Neighborhood

Group Wants Church Hierarchy to Warn Parents, Protect Kids

A support group for clergy sex molestation victims is writing San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert Brom warning him that "recent actions at the diocese ... are posing a large and dangerous risk to children."

Leaders of a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are worried about Fr. Gary Holtey, a convicted sex offender priest who is living unsupervised in a San Diego neighborhood and across the street from St. John's Catholic parish in University Heights. Although Chancellor Rodrigo Valdivia said that Holtey would be removed from ministry, Holtey was listed at his current Park Blvd. address as an active practicing priest on the Diocese web site as late as August.

"This guy is dangerous, and we fear for kids at risk near him and for others he may have hurt or exploited who are still suffering in shame and self-blame," said Joelle Casteix, SNAP Southwest Regional Director. "He poses an immediate risk, but church officials apparently don't think that it is important to warn the neighbors or remove Holtey from ministry. It's another case of a bishop 'dumping' sex offending priests in unsuspecting neighborhoods."

Last week, members of SNAP passed out leaflets and collected signatures in Holtey's building and surrounding neighborhood. They also posted flyers about him in local schools, day care centers and businesses. The petition asked that the Diocese immediately remove Holtey and place him in a supervised environment away from children. It also asked the City of San Diego to reprimand the diocese for intentionally putting children at risk of exploitation.

"The neighbors were upset to learn that a sex offender lives right next door. But they were disgusted to find out that the Catholic officials neglected to alert them," Casteix said.

The letter, sent September 15 to the Diocese via fax, e-mail and certified mail, asked Brom and Valdivia to publicly acknowledge that Holtey is a risk and reach out the neighborhood where he is living to warn residents. They also asked that the diocese release all files regarding the laicization (defrocking) of Holtey, release all files pertaining to any convicted, known, or suspected sex offender who has ever worked or volunteered in the diocese, and immediately drop their opposition to the California law that allows children who have been abused to seek justice in the courts.

"There could be victims in that neighborhood right now," Casteix stressed. "There may also be witnesses who, if they came forward, might be able to provide vital information about Holtey's activities and whether he is working or volunteering the the church across the street. This information might also lead to his prosecution and incarceration, which would provide the most safety for youngsters."

SNAP leaders closed the letter demanding that Bishop Brom truly protect children and genuinely reach out to survivors stating that "It is time to do the right and Christian thing."

A copy of SNAP's letter is below:

SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
PO Box 20491
Long Beach, CA 90801
SNAPnetwork.org

September 15, 2005

Dear Bishop Brom and Chancellor Valdivia:

We are writing today because of recent actions at the diocese that are posing a large and dangerous risk to the children of San Diego.

First, we are demanding information about the status of Fr. Gary Holtey, the priest in your diocese who was convicted in February of ten counts of child pornography. At the time of his sentencing, Chancellor Valdivia stated in the press that he would be immediately removed from ministry.

However, this does not seem to be the case. As late as August, the diocese web site still listed Fr. Holtey as an active and practicing priest. Not only that, but you listed his physical address, which happens to be directly across the street from St. John’s Catholic Church. Because of this information, we can only assume that you have not removed Holtey from the priesthood.

Last week, we had the opportunity to speak to Holtey's neighbors. Because it is our mission to protect children from predators, we felt that it was our obligation to circulate flyers in his neighborhood, so that parents can ensure that their children are safe. We also spoke to the local schools, the school district and neighboring businesses, all of whom were extremely supportive of our cause.

Another opinion was apparent that day - everyone, especially the people living in the same building with Fr. Holtey, was enraged that the Diocese of San Diego saw fit to dump a predator in an unsuspecting neighborhood. They were upset and disappointed that a religious institution could not have the simple compassion to inform neighbors of the threat that Fr. Holtey poses. Because of that, they agreed to sign a petition demanding that you immediately end the practice of hiding sexual predators in unsuspecting churches and neighborhoods.

It is time for your behavior to change. It is no longer acceptable in a society that values its children and values the law.

We request the following:

1) Copies of any and all paperwork pertaining to the laicization of Fr. Holtey,
2) Removal of Holtey from the neighborhood and your placement of him into a supervised, controlled environment away from children
3) Public acknowledgment, apology and warning to the neighborhood where Fr. Holtey now lives,
4) Release of all personnel, court or secret documents pertaining to the sexual abuse of children in San Diego and the sexual misconduct on behalf of anyone who has served in any capacity in your diocese,

and finally,

5) That you immediately drop all objections to the child protection law that has helped hundreds of victims statewide seek justice and access to the secret files that documented their abuse.

We really don't think that Jesus would support hiding documents that could help save the lives of hundreds of children who were brutally abused. In fact, we believe that while Jesus would forgive Holtey, he would also be the first one trying to safeguard innocent children from sex crimes by Holtey and other abusive clerics.

And finally, we have tired of your pointless argument on privacy rights - Orange has shown that these documents may and must be released.

The time of protecting molesters is over. It is instead time for you to truly tell the truth, safeguard the vulnerable and heal the wounded. It is time to do the right and Christian thing.

Sincerely.

Joelle Casteix
SNAP Southwest Regional Director
(858) 882-7452

Mary Grant
SNAP Western Regional Director
(626) 419-2930


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


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