The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
For immediate release:
For more information:
Sex Abuse Group Blasts LA Mayor For Honoring Catholic Official
Top Jesuit Hid Sex Crimes And Houses Convicted Molesters
Yet He's Being Honored At Gala Soon
Mayor Ignores Victims Request For Help
Clergy abuse victims are urging Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to step down as honorary chair of an event honoring a Catholic official who houses convicted, known and suspected molesters at his religious order's headquarters in Los Gatos. Multiple victims have come forward who were abused at that headquarters including one priest who recently committed suicide.
Fr. Thomas H. Smolich, head of the California Province of Jesuits, is scheduled to be honored at a benefit gala on October 22nd at Union Station in Los Angeles. Villaraigosa is Honorary Chair of the celebration, which is sponsored by Proyecto Pastoral at Delores Catholic Mission.
On August 23, several members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, hand delivered a letter to Villaraigosas office informing him about Smolichs history of hiding sex crimes and asking that the mayor step down from his role in the gala. They were joined by two brothers of a priest who was sexually assaulted in 1998 by a fellow Jesuit cleric at the Jesuit headquarters near San Jose.
Jacob Motta, Villaraigosas Director of Constituent Services, assured the group that the mayor would respond in a week, but SNAP has yet to hear anything. Two weeks ago, the brothers of the assault victim sent another letter to Villaraigosa but still have received no reply from him.
Tragically, wheelchair-bound priest, Fr. James Chevedden, was sexually assaulted by a convicted molester Smolich is housing, said Mary Grant of Long Beach, SNAPs Western Regional Director. Smolich didnt report the crime to the police, and Chevedden suffered tremendously, later committing suicide. http://www.detnews.com/2002/religion/0207/01/religion-526386.htm
Today, SNAP leaders are writing a second letter to Villaraigosa, again urging him to withdraw as honorary chair of the event honoring Smolich.
Smolich has a long and shameful history of hiding known molesters and refusing to report sex abuse crimes to law enforcement," says Steven Sanchez, SNAPs Los Angeles Director. "Honoring him rubs salt into the already deep wounds of molestation victims, and sends a terrible signal that LA's top elected official turns a blind eye to sex crimes and cover ups.
We worry that city officials are being unresponsive to this safety crisis much the same way American bishops have been for decades, says SNAP in their letter to Villaraigosa.
The group is also concerned that clergy abuse victims still "trapped in shame" will keep quiet, instead of speaking up, if they see a high-ranking public official publicly praising a church official who "knowingly and recklessly harbors sexual predators."
Everyone is safer from predators when victims report sex crimes. But victims are far less apt to do so when they see molesters or their enablers honored in public by high-ranking officials, says SNAP in their letter to Villaraigosa.
SNAP says Smolich's mismanagement continues to needlessly keep people
at risk of abuse. At least five convicted molesters live or have lived
with Smolich at the Los Gatos facility (called Sacred Heart). They include
Brother John Rodriguez Moniz, Fr. Angel Mariano, Brother Charles Connor,
Fr. Edward Burke and Fr. Jerold Lindner).
SNAPs new letter to the mayor, sent today via e-mail and fax, is below:
October 6, 2005
We, the members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are troubled that we have not received a reply to our hand-delivered letter of August 23, asking you to withdraw as Honorary Chair for an event honoring Fr. Thomas H. Smolich, head of the California Province of Jesuits. Smolich admittedly houses convicted and suspected molesters at his headquarters, Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, in Los Gatos. We asked you to step down from this gala, and instead take practical steps to protect Los Angeles citizens.
Smolichs history of hiding known molesters and refusing to report sex abuse crimes to law enforcement shows he is not a leader who deserves public praise. Worse, we worry that city officials are being secretive and unresponsive to this safety crisis much the same way American bishops have been for decades.
Everyone is safer from predators when victims report sex crimes. But victims are far less apt to do so when they see molesters or their enablers praised in public by high-ranking officials. That is why we felt it was our duty to inform you that Smolich and the Jesuits have, for more than a decade, needlessly placed children and vulnerable adults, including incapacitated and retired priests, at risk of abuse at their Sacred Heart facility.
We hope that you do not make the same mistakes by honoring Smolich; the same mistakes that we believe keeps kids and vulnerable adults at risk of abuse and rubs salt into the already deep wounds of molestation victims.
As you should know, church officials, like Cardinal Roger Mahony, are fighting prosecutors, the courts, the law and victims to keep known and suspected molesters names and personnel files secret.
In light of this, we ask you to speak up to expose molesters and those church officials who harbor them, and put the safety of kids and vulnerable adults first, by publicly urging:
- anyone who experienced, suspects or witnessed abuse at Sacred Heart or other Jesuit facility to come forward, get help and contact criminal authorities.
- Proyecto Pastoral at Delores Mission to cancel their plans to honor Smolich.
- Smolich to come clean and turn over all known and suspected molesters personnel files to prosecutors.
- church officials to use the Jesuits/Sacred Hearts website, newspapers and bulletins to post the names of all known and suspected molesters, urging victims and witnesses to come forward and contact criminal authorities.
- Jesuits to stop their practice at Sacred Heart of sheltering suspected, known and convicted molesters.
We have attached the fact sheet from our previous letter that outlines some of Fr. Smolichs unconscionable actions that continue to needlessly place innocent kids and vulnerable adults at risk of abuse.
Mayor Villaraigosa, in the interest of public safety, we ask you to send a message of hope that it is safe for sex abuse victims to come forward and that these horrific crimes and church officials cover-ups will not be tolerated in Los Angeles.
We look forward to your reply.
Two mentally disabled men who live and work at a Jesuit retreat were sexually abused by members of the clergy for at least five years, according to court records and interviews. Brother Charles Leonard Connor, was convicted last year of committing a lewd act on one victim. He is free after six months of home detention. Another Jesuit, Father Edward Thomas Burke, admitted to his superior two years ago that he engaged in sexual misconduct with the other victim, documents show.
Father Thomas H. Smolich, head of the California Province, acknowledged that [Jesuits] Connor and Burke took advantage of the mentally disabled men.
Police reports and internal memos reveal a pattern of warnings followed by reluctance on the part of some Jesuit leaders to notify authorities--much like dozens of other cases of sexual abuse involving Catholic priests that have surfaced around the country.
Jesuit superiors at Sacred Heart relocated Burke in April 2000, after he admitted having sexual contact with one victim, but they did not notify authorities. Connor also was removed, but only after a sheriff's detective threatened to have him arrested. The Jesuit superiors sent Connor to a residence on the campus of the all-boys Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose without telling school officials that he was under investigation for sex crimes.
Brother John Rodrigues Moniz, 80, and Father Angel Mariano, 46, are registered sex offenders who were convicted of felony sex crimes with minors. Both lived at Sacred Heart in recent years.
Moniz was convicted in 1995 after pleading no contest to one felony count of lewd conduct with a minor for fondling a 7-year-old girl in Los Gatos. He was placed on three years' probation, ordered to have no contact with children and required to pay his victim's uninsured medical expenses and psychological treatment.
Mariano was arrested about midnight Sept. 21, 1998, in Campbell, Calif., near San Jose when a police officer caught him in a sex act with a 17-year-old student in a parked car.
Mariano was convicted March 16, 1999, on two felony counts of oral copulation with a minor and spent about five months in Santa Clara County Jail. At the time of his arrest, Mariano served as an associate pastor for four years at Most Holy Trinity Church in San Jose, one of 13parishes that are staffed by Jesuits within the province.
Mariano was removed without any explanation. Asked why parishioners at Holy Trinity were not made aware of the reasons for Mariano's departure, Smolich said: "Why should they? This is an Internet cruising thing. This is anonymous sex. This doesn't involve people at the parish. It wasn't a priest thing. He wasn't dressed in a collar."
The fourth registered sex offender, Father James Thomas Monaghan, was convicted in 1992 of felony lewd conduct for fondling a 7-year-old girl who was brought to him for counseling while he was pastor of St. Ignatius parish in Sacramento. Monaghan, 87, is now in the infirmary at Sacred Heart.
Burke becomes the fifth Jesuit in Northern California in recent years
ordered to register as a lifetime sex offender. All five of the Catholic
priests have resided at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, a picturesque
retreat nestled in the foothills above Santa Clara Valley.
Burke pleaded guilty on May 23 to committing a felony sex crime on a 50-year-old former kitchen worker at Sacred Heart. The case came to the attention of law enforcement authorities in March after the Los Angeles Times reported that top Jesuit officials quietly relocated Burke in April 2000 after he admitted engaging in sexual misconduct. Instead of notifying authorities, the Jesuit leaders moved Burke to a residence on the campus of Santa Clara University.
Burke received a much harsher term than Charles Leonard Connor, also 80, a Jesuit brother who was sentenced to six months of home detention in January of last year for molesting another mentally disabled man at Sacred Heart.
He added that the Burke prosecution justified a tougher sentence because the former priest allegedly committed sodomy.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests