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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Court to hear arguments on pedophile priest case

The issue: whether to let victims' lawsuit proceed & let their experts be heard at trial.

Catholic bishop seeks to "exploit legal technicalities," group says.

Victims want trial because "parents and the public need & deserve to know the facts."

Clergy sex abuse support group urges other victims and witnesses to come forward.

WHAT
At a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will:
--blast Catholic officials for trying to take advantage of legal loopholes to deny victims their 'day in court,'
--urge a judge to let the pedophile priest cover up case go forward, and
--prod anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes, by any predator priest, to come forward, get help and call police.

WHEN
Monday, Aug. 10, at 8:30 a.m. and again immediately after a 9:00 a.m. court hearing, approximately during the noon hour.

WHERE
Outside the George L. Allen District Courthouse, 8th Floor New Tower, 600 Commerce St. across from the "Old Red" Courthouse in downtown Dallas

WHO
Two sex abuse victims who are members of the local chapter of a national support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)

WHY
At 9:00 a.m., Judge Carl Ginsberg (193rd District Court) will hear arguments about whether to allow a civil lawsuit against a predator priest and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas to proceed. The Diocese is trying, in the eyes of the victims, to exploit legal technicalities and have the judge throw the case out. Church officials claim they had no reason to know that Fr. Richard E. Johnson was abusing altar boys, even though he functioned as a parish priest and a high level Dallas Diocese official for over forty-six years. Seven victims of Johnson have been identified, three of which are plaintiffs in this lawsuit, filed in May, 2007. Of the remaining four, two are deceased. Family and friends of the decedents, as well as the other two victims, will offer testimony in the trial.

The victims want a jury to hear from Fr. Tom Doyle, a well-known veteran priest, expert, canon lawyer and whistleblower who gave every US bishop a lengthy detailed warning decades ago about the impending clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis. He has testified in hundreds of similar cases across the country over the past 20 years, but local Catholic officials are arguing he shouldn't be allowed to participate as an expert witness in this case. Doyle, who now lives in the Washington, DC area, will attend the hearing and be challenged by the Diocese regarding his testimony. (A bio of Doyle is available at: http://www.richardsipe.com/doyle/doyle-bio.html.)

In light of the Diocese's current posture, just twelve years ago, one of the biggest verdicts in sexual abuse cases against the Catholic Church came down in Dallas County. It involved a serial predator named Fr. Rudy Kos.

For this very reason, SNAP believes it's immoral for bishops to act in court like cold-hearted CEOs, while pretending to be compassionate shepherds. The group believes bishops should defend their position and that of accused predator priests on the merits, not on technicalities.

The victims' attorney is Tahira Khan Merritt of Dallas (214.503.7300, tahira@tkmlawfirm.com) who has represented dozens of men, women and children who have been assaulted, including many who were hurt by church employees.

CONTACT
Matt Stevens 214.769.1274, Lisa Kendzior 817.773.5907, David Clohessy 314.566.9790


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