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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:
Thursday, April 19, 2007

For more information:
David Clohessy 314 566 9790 or 314 645 5915
Barbara Dorris 314 862 7688 home

Sex abuse victims seek help from Lansing’s bishop

Self-help group wants youth minister barred from future work

Deacon resigned from his job last weekend at Burton parish

In the 1980s, he and a pedophile priest allegedly assaulted a boy

That victim received a $200,000 settlement and is now a policeman

“Why the secrecy? Why the risk?” support group victims ask top Catholic officials

A support group for clergy molestation victims asking Lansing’s Catholic bishop to explain why he didn’t suspend and investigate an accused abusive youth minister months ago, and to explain to his flock why he still refuses to take action against the alleged molester.

Leaders of a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing Bishop Carl Mengeling regarding Deacon James Corder. Mengeling announced that Corder resigned his position as youth minister at Holy Redeemer in Burton, Michigan last weekend. He offered no explanation for Corder’s decision.

But for months, Mengeling has known that Corder has been accused of molesting a boy. For years, he’s known that Corder is “very close” to two “pedophile priests,” SNAP contends.

“The bishop needs to explain his recklessness, suspend Corder, investigate him, publicly beg anyone with information to call the police,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s national director. “Then he needs to apologize to his flock for refusing to put the safety of the children first.”

The allegation is contained in a police report.

Corder was personally known to Fr. Tim Crowley and Fr. Vincent DeLorenzo, SNAP claims. Corder’s alleged assault took place in Crowley’s presence, the report says.

Corder was ordained a deacon in 2000. He has apparently worked for the diocese for 20 years. http://www.dioceseoflansing.org/pastoralplanning/coord_members.html

He apparently also works as a chaplain at Baker College. http://www.dioceseoflansing.org/campusministry/index.html

For several years, Corder was the director for Youth Ministry for the diocese, working out of the chancery office in Lansing. Corder had been scheduled to lead a retreat for youngsters this weekend.

A copy of SNAP’s letter, sent today to Lansing’s bishop by fax and e mail, is below:

Dear Bishop Mengeling:

For months you’ve known about an accused abusive youth minister, Deacon James Corder. You have refused to fire or even suspend him (though he has now resigned). You have refused, even now, to let parishioners know of his past.

We ask that you explain to Lansing area Catholics and the public why you didn’t suspend him promptly and notify parishioners so that their kids could be safe.

We also ask that you investigate the allegation and use your considerable resources – church web sites and parish bulletins and pulpit announcements and the diocesan newspaper – to prod anyone with any information or suspicions about Corder to contact independent sources of help, such as police, therapists, and support groups like ours.

For months, you and your staff have been aware of troubling information about Corder.

1) According to a Michigan Department of State Police report, he allegedly “attempted to engage in anal intercourse with (a child) while (the boy) was held down by Crowley in Hillsdale.”

2) The victim is credible. (He’s a police officer and received a $200,000 settlement from church officials for his abuse by Crowley, according to that same police report).

3) Parishioners have expressed doubts and suspicions about him, both to each other, to parish staff, and to you and others in the diocesan chancery office.

4) Corder is very close to two proven pedophile priests.

- Fr. Tim Crowley.

Crowley encouraged Corder to go into youth ministry and brought him down to Hillsdale a volunteer and later as a Youth Group Coordinator shortly after Corder graduated from high school. Corder lived in the rectory at Hillsdale with Crowley during the time of their alleged joint abuse. They maintained a long standing friendship even after Corder left the Hillsdale Parish. Crowley is the godfather of Corder’s oldest son. (Baptismal records at Holy Redeemer may confirm this.)

(According to newspapers in Anchorage AK and Dallas TX, “Crowley has served in recent years as Anchoraga Archbishop Schwietz's liaison to a Catholic school.)

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2003_07_12/2003_11_16_Tsong_PriestsPast.htm

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/2002_03_30_APStateLocalWire_BurtonPriest_Vincent_DeLorenzo_1.htm -
http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=8175

In spite of all of this, you opted to do nothing to warn others about Corder or protect others from Corder. Even now, you’ve taken no action. (Corder resigned. You did not suspend him, or explain why.)

We know of no police criminal investigation or civil lawsuits against Corder underway now. We know one is innocent until proven guilty. But we also know that responsible adults take the safety of kids seriously. We also know that if we err, we have a moral duty to value the emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of many kids over the reputation of one adult.

We know that false allegations are possible and harmful. But we also know that the overwhelming majority of clergy sex abuse accusations are founded.

Regardless of your feelings about Corder or what evidence may ultimately emerge in this case, it’s clear that you have violated the spirit and perhaps the letter of the US bishops sex abuse policy. It calls for prompt suspension of any cleric who is credibly accused of abuse. (And again, this one is credible on several levels: the victim’s status as a police officer, the settlement he secured, Corder’s close association with the other predator in this case, among other reasons).

At a bare minimum, you should have suspended Corder, investigated, and notified parishioners. Since you didn’t, families were kept in the dark, kids were kept at risk. Furthermore, because of your secrecy and inaction, an accused predator (Corder) and an admitted predator (Crowley) have now had months to destroy evidence, threaten victims, intimidate witnesses and conspire to cover up their crimes and craft alibis.

To both protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded, we strongly urge you publicly suspend Corder, investigate this allegation, and explain and apologize for your mishandling of this allegation.

We hope to hear from you soon.

David Clohessy
National Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915

Barbara Dorris
Outreach Coordinator, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
6245 Westminster
St. Louis MO 63130
314 862 7688


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


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