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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

For immediate release:
Friday, November 21, 2008

SNAP challenges chaplain

Sex abuse victims challenge chaplain to ‘open discussion’

SNAP to top cleric: “If you’re blameless, defend your record in public”

Washington paper says Chicago priest dealt with at least 12 abusive priests

But there is no evidence he even once alerted police or parishioners about them

Support group wants Q & A session on how church allegedly ‘monitors’ pedophiles

“How many other Chicago priests are supposedly ‘overseeing’ predators now,” SNAP asks

A national support group for clergy sex abuse victims is challenging top Chicago Catholic officials, including a controversial high profile Washington chaplain, to join them in an “open forum” about how Chicago predator priests are allegedly supervised, both now or several years ago when the chaplain helped perform that role.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (, are issuing the invitation in response to criticism of their group by Cardinal Francis George’s PR woman in today’s Chicago Tribune. Colleen Dolan blasts SNAP for criticizing Coughlin, who is the chaplain for the US House of Representatives.

Yesterday, a Washington DC newspaper, Roll Call, disclosed that Coughlin spent ten years “at the center of the Chicago Archdiocese’s efforts to manage priests who had been accused of sexual abuse.” For five years, he ran “a Catholic facility where the archdiocese sent priests who were suspected of committing sexual offenses.”

At a news conference and in written statements, SNAP contends that Coughlin helped “conceal clergy sex crimes.”

“Coughlin makes no mention of ever notifying police or parishioners about the accused clerics,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. “We want Coughlin to openly address this question and other questions about his role in keeping clergy sex crimes hidden.”

“This isn’t rocket science. If you know about crimes, you either disclose them or hide them. It’s that simple,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s national director. “Coughlin, like his boss Cardinal George, chooses to hide them. Remember, George admitted under oath this year that never, in 48 years as a priest, did he call the police about a child molesting clergyman. If Coughlin did, we’d love to see the proof.”

In 1999, Coughlin wrote a letter to Wisconsin prison officials, urging them to free Fr. Norbert Maday, a convicted, imprisoned serial predator. In a deposition given this year, George said, “I have never seen this (letter) before ... I didn’t approve this letter.” SNAP wants George to discipline Coughlin for making this unauthorized, reckless move.

However, in previously secret church records obtained several months ago, George admitted making repeated, written, secret and recent efforts to get Maday cleric out of prison.

According to Roll Call, “One study was particularly critical” of the center Coughlin oversaw, “where accused priests were essentially living without monitors and had master keys to the building — including rooms where other retreat visitors slept. Coughlin said the system in place was much stricter when he ran the center before 1995, and the 2006 report gave no indication at what point the monitoring protocols at the center had lapsed.”

In 1994, Maday was convicted of molesting two boys in Wisconsin. In 2003, the Cardinal’s hand-picked abuse review panel recommended, for the second time, that Maday be defrocked. That didn’t happen until late last year.

“Time after time, we in SNAP willingly and patiently field questions from groups of journalists who challenge us,” said Barbara Blaine, SNAP’s president and founder. “But Cardinal George virtually never does. It’s time he gets out from behind his desk, sends his PR crew and defense lawyers home, honors his pledges to be ‘open’ and have a civil public discussion of his questionable practices with predator priests.”

Clohessy noted that the archdiocesan public relations staffer who criticized SNAP today is the same woman who once ‘minimized’ the crimes of a recent Chicago predator priest, Fr. Daniel McCormack.

Last year, Colleen Dolan claimed that the perception of McCormack's crimes was worse than the reality.

"He has not been accused of rape. Never," Dolan said. "There's a big difference between abuse and assault. It wasn't assault, which is a more egregious crime."

Dorris said that the self-help group would put its invitation to George and Coughlin in a letter next week.

Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP President & Founder 312 399 4747 cell
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director 314 566 9790 cell
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director 314 862 7688 home

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests