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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

For immediate release:
Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006

For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis , national director of SNAP (314 566 9790 cell,
Barbara Blaine (312) 399-4747,
Peter Isely (414) 429-7259

Sex Abuse Victims Want Catholic Official To Take Lie Detector Test

They Accuse Top Jesuit Of "Deceit" On Allegedly "Finding" Documents

Church Leader Claims He Voluntarily Disclosed Damning Records

But Support Group Says A Court Order Prompted The "Deceptive" Move

At Least 12 Accuse Former College President of Child Molestation

A support group for clergy molestation victims want a high-ranking Catholic official to take a lie detector test to determine whether or not he's telling the truth about documents showing a cover up of child sex allegations against a former college university president, Father John Leary.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing Fr. John Whitney, who heads the western regional conference of the Jesuits. Last Friday, Whitney revealed that the Jesuits have always had detailed records documenting Leary's abuse of at least twelve boys but they had never read the files “carefully.'

Whitney's claim that just last month a staffer found the documents while “preparing court documents in other cases' seems disingenuous at best, SNAP leaders say. They point out that a judge recently ordered the Jesuits to make public any records about alleged abuse by Jesuits dating back to the 1960s.

"The Jesuits are playing a shrewd PR game: 'Let's release the awful news first, before the court forces us, so it'll look like we're open,'' said David Clohessy of St. Louis , SNAP's national director. "They're giving information only because they've been compelled to do so."

Across the country, Clohessy says, in at least a dozen cases, Catholic officials only 'discover' records that would have helped victims after the cases are closed.

"And almost always, they seem to find records after, not during, criminal or civil cases," he said.

"How can the Jesuits settle cases involving Leary but claim they have never read his file? It defies common sense," said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP's president. “How do they explain that in the late 1960s no Jesuit called the police about the sexual abuse of at least twelve boys, and that even now, they only disclose information when hit with a court order?"

Fr. John Leary spent most of the 1960s as the head of a Gonzaga University , a Catholic school in Spokane .

Two civil child sex abuse against Leary and his employers, the Jesuits, were recently settled out of court.

The Jesuits, formally known as The Society of Jesus, have over 20,000 members and are
based in Washington , DC .

This is the first time in SNAP's 17 year history that the group has challenged a church official to take a polygraph.

"Cardinal Law was perhaps the first to claim that evidence of cover ups had been 'misplaced," said Clohessy. "More recently, bishops in Vermont and Minnesota made similar claims. It's a desperate and obvious damage control tactic."

The documents were allegedly 'found' during an investigation involving Father Michael Toulouse, a Jesuit who has had several civil child molestation lawsuits filed against him. Toulouse , a philosophy professor at Seattle University , died in 1976.

Timothy Kosnoff, a Seattle attorney, represents several victims of both Leary and Toulouse .

A copy of SNAP's letter:

September 14, 2006

Society of Jesus
3215 SE 45th Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97206

Dear Father Whitney,

The Jesuits have always prided themselves for their support of social justice and for their strict moral code. We are asking that you honor that tradition and submit to a lie detector test today to lay to rest the controversy over the documents about Fr. John Leary that you and your colleagues failed to release until hit with a court order.

We find it nearly impossible to believe your claim that no one had “carefully' read these documents before.

The documents prove that, for decades, Jesuit officials were aware of at least twelve victims of childhood sexual abuse by Leary. Yet you and your colleagues chose to fabricate an elaborate scheme to protect the reputation of a sexual predator and allowed these twelve innocent children (and others too, no doubt) to continue to suffer.

Now you would have us believe that you inadvertently “missed' turning over documents that would have protected the innocent and helped the wounded.

We also question how, given your knowledge of the nature of Leary's crimes, he could have been sent to a school for boys in Boston and then allowed to work in a number of universities in the northwest. You and your colleagues allowed him to continue his career path with no known supervision or restrictions once again failing the young people placed in your care.

But our main concern now is not the crimes of the past, but the duplicity of the present. In media accounts last week, you said “It was not my intention to keep it a secret' and "when I found out this [most recent] information, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. It was just: 'Let's get it out.' ... I thought these need to be out as soon as possible."

If that's truly the case, you should have no difficulty showing it's truly the case.

We challenge you to take a polygraph exam (at our expense), and show the public whether your comments last week represented unusual honesty or typical deception from a Catholic official.

We look forward to hearing from you.

David Clohessy (314-566-9790)
National Director of SNAP

Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747)
President of SNAP

Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688)
Victims Outreach Director for SNAP
6245 Westminster Place
Saint Louis , MO 63130


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


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