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SNAP
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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: Friday, March 4, 2005

Catholics & Molestation Victims Want Lawyer To Quit National Post

He Should Resign From US Bishops Sex Abuse Panel

Former US Attorney Also Helps San Francisco Archbishop Help Keep Secrets

He Also Makes "Insensitive" Public Comment, SNAP Says

"Can't Serve Two Masters," Activists Assert


WHAT:
Citing conflicts of interest, local Catholic activists and clergy molestation victims will publicly prod a prominent local attorney to resign from the US Catholic bishops' national clergy sex abuse oversight board.

WHEN:
2:15 p.m. TODAY, Friday, March 4

WHERE:
Outside the the San Francisco Catholic headquarters (chancery office), One Peter York Way in San Francisco

WHO:
Leaders of a Catholic reform group (Voice of the Faithful) and clergy molestation victims who are members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (a support group), including the group’s national director from St. Louis

VISUALS:
The group will hold signs.

WHY:
Last fall, prominent former U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello was named to a national "watchdog" board of Catholic laypeople overseeing how bishops are handling the clergy sex abuse crisis. In that role, he is charged with helping church leaders be more open about abuse cases.

Yet he remains a defense lawyer for the San Francisco Catholic archdiocese, which both VOTF and SNAP consider an inherent conflict of interest. And just weeks ago, he helped Archbishop William Levada avoid having to disclose potentially embarrassing secret church documents about pedophile priests, by making deals with local prosecutors to keep such information sealed from public view.

In his first public comment on the crisis, just weeks after his appointment, Russoniello argued AGAINST publicly naming known, admitted, and suspected abusive clerics, saying "It's easy to make an accusation -- especially from a deranged, angry, vengeful person striking out against an authority figure." (November 12, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle, "Levada takes heat over abuse inquiry/Panel member resigns, says church suppressed results," by Don Lattin). SNAP members consider his remark at best ill-advised and misleading and at worst insulting and intimidating.

Russoniello is with the Cooley Godward law firm.

CONTACT:
Terrie Light of Hayward, SNAP Northwestern Regional Director 510 517 3338
Danny McNevin of Emeryville, Bay Area SNAP Director 415 341 6417
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director 314 566 9790 cell


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


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