The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
For immediate release:
Priest Who Admitted Child Sex Abuse Denied Release From Prison
For Public Safety, SNAP Had Asked That He Be Kept Locked Up
Cleric Is Young And Will Likely Molest Again, Group Believes
Father Gary Wolken has lost his bid to be released early from his 15 year prison sentence for multiple counts of statutory sodomy and child molestation. He pled guilty in 2003, and last month sought early parole. Today, that request was denied.
Leaders of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) applaud the decision.
Wolken is currently incarcerated at South Central Correctional Center in Licking, Mo. Wolken will not become eligible for another hearing until August of 2010.
"We feel this sends a very strong message to child molesters," said Barbara Dorris, Victims Outreach Director for SNAP. "Harm a child and you will face the consequences. It doesn"t matter who you are, what your title is, sexual predators belong in jail."
"We are grateful to this family for their courage in not only seeking justice for their child but for working with the police and prosecutors to be sure this priest would not harm others. Children are safe when child molesters are behind bars," she said.
A month ago, in downtown Clayton outside the St. Louis County courthouse, several survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters who belong to SNAP handed out fliers to passers-by, prodding citizens to write
-- Missouri officials and urge them to deny parole to a convicted abusive Catholic priest, and
-- St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke and urge him to move to defrock the priest.
Wolken was an associate pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows parish in south St. Louis city. He sexually abused a young boy between August 1997 and July 2000, beginning when the boy was in kindergarten. In March 2002, the parents reported the abuse, Wolken was subsequently placed on administrative leave, and pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory sodomy and six counts of child molestation in December 2002.
According to Missouri Lawyer, "On Feb. 28, 2003, St. Louis Circuit Judge John Kintz sentenced Wolken to concurrent 15-year sentences for each sodomy charge and concurrent 7-year sentences for the molestation charges. St. Louis County assistant prosecutor Rob Livergood had sought a 20-year sentence (saying that) Wolken had committed a similar but unprosecuted crime 22 years earlier."
A civil child sex abuse lawsuit against Wolken was settled for $1.65 million.
SNAP leaders believe Wolken is young, a shrewd, charismatic and dangerous predator, easily able to gain the trust of youngsters and their parents. He has not been defrocked and SNAP is concerned that he will somehow function in some way as a member of the clergy or in a position where he will have access to children.
Barbara Dorris, Victims Outreach Director 314-862-7688
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests