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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

For More Information:
Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee), 414.429.7259 (cell)
Alice Hodek, SNAP Green Bay, 920.497.0795
Judith Schauer, SNAP Green Bay, 920.445.6655
Mary Geuntner, SNAP Wisconsin, 414.418.3191
Commander Whitwell is represented by DE Atty Stephen Neuberger, 302.655.0582

Green Bay religious order covered up child sex crimes, new documents show

Delaware’s Child Victims Act leads to release of secret Wisconsin church records

Similar law could force out thousands of such documents across Wisconsin

But state’s bishops pressuring retiring committee chair to keep new measure from vote

WHAT
Victims of childhood sexual assault by clergy will release and discuss never before seen church documents obtained through Delaware’s new Child Victims Act that prove top Catholic church officials in Green Bay and De Pere secretly transferred a known child molester, Fr. Edward Smith, into and out of Wisconsin to escape criminal prosecution.

Victims and family members of victims will be forwarding the new documents Wednesday with a letter to retiring Wisconsin state representative Carol Owens (Rep. Oshkosh) urging her to vote out of her committee the Wisconsin Child Victim Act, a measure that will force Wisconsin bishops and religious officials to release thousands of secret documents naming scores of never before publicly identified clergy sex predators.

WHO
Green Bay and Wisconsin leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the nation’s oldest and largest self help organization of clergy sexual abuse survivors (SNAPnetwork.org).

WHERE
The first floor rotunda of the Brown County Courthouse, Green Bay

WHEN
1:30 p.m.

WHY?
On January 23, SNAP leaders hand delivered a letter to Fr. Gary Neville, Abbot of the Norbertine Order in De Pere, urging him and the current acting bishop of the Green Bay diocese, Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee, to immediately turn over to authorities Norbertine priest, Fr. Edward Smith.

Smith was first caught in the 1970s sexually assaulting boys at a Norbertine high school in Philadelphia, Newman Academy. He was then transferred to Delaware to teach at Archmere Academy in Delaware, a high school also operated by the Norbertines.

While at Archmere, according to federal court testimony in Delaware this year, Smith raped a minor, Kenneth Whitwell, from 1982 to 1984 on dozens of occasions. Smith brought Whitwell to the De Pere Abbey in 1984, sexually assaulting him over a four day period. Those crimes are still prosecutable under the Wisconsin criminal code.

Abbot Neville, in his remarks to Green Bay press last month and in a brief written statement, claimed that the De Pere Norbertines had no knowledge or association with Smith.

Church records released through The Child Victims Act of Delaware this week, however, show that Smith was in fact secretly transferred to the De Pere Abbey in 1985 after confessing to sexually abusing Whitwell. The records also show that the Green Bay Bishop and his personal director knew of Smith’s criminal acts, approved the transfer, and kept Smith form criminal authorities and prosecution.

Smith was placed in ministry in the Green Bay diocese for three years before he was suddenly transferred back to Pennsylvania in 1989. Records then show that Smith was made a trustee of the very high school in Pennsylvania where he was caught years earlier assaulting children. Documents also detail how the Norbertine Provincial falsified reports in 1997 to the bishop of Wilmington, stating that Smith was celibate, never placed on restriction, and never involved in any act of sexual misconduct.

The Child Victim Act of Wisconsin, similar to the Delaware measure that passed unanimously last year, would result in an unprecedented release of church records across Wisconsin detailing crimes against children by scores of clergy over the past several decades. Wisconsin bishops are actively pressuring state lawmakers not to vote on the bill this legislative session, hoping the bill will be held up in the assembly’s Children and Family Committee, chaired by retiring Republican Carol Owen of Oshkosh.


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


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