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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Big IL Supreme Court ruling on clergy sex abuse comes today

Decision will either help or stop victims from exposing more predators

But 3 Catholic bishops - in TX, MO & IL - are fighting to keep victims out of court

Ruling may ease statute of limitations & give victims more time to expose pedophiles

"It's morally wrong to try and exploit legal technicalities" self help group tells church officials

In odd case, bishops in three dioceses distance themselves from prominent predator priest

Ohio cleric wrote popular book "From Playboy to Priest" & walks free despite multiple allegations

WHAT
At sidewalk news conferences in two cities, child sex abuse victims and child advocates will react to a new Illinois Supreme Court ruling, to be issued Thursday morning, that will either make it much harder or much easier for victims of child molestation to expose their predators, deter recklessness and secrecy, and protect children by filing civil lawsuits

DATE
Thursday, Sept. 24

WHERE/WHEN
In Belleville, at 11:00 a.m., outside the chancery office, 222 South 2nd Street in Belleville, IL
In Springfield, at 2:00 p.m., outside the Illinois Supreme Court, 200 E Capitol Ave., Springfield, IL

WHO
In Belleville, two members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a St. Louis man who is the organization's national director

In Springfield, a St. Louis man who is the national director of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (Staff from the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault will also be available to answer questions.)

WHY
In 2003 a firefighter named Chris Amenn of O’Fallon, Illinois sued a diocesan priest, Fr. Kenneth J. Roberts and his church supervisors in Dallas, St. Louis and Belleville. Roberts molested Amenn in 1984, when Amenn was a boy at St. Mary’s parish in Belleville. Roberts faced credible allegations of molesting in Dallas, was then sent to St. Louis where he gave talks and led retreats throughout the bi-state area.

The 3 bishops are claiming that Amenn filed his lawsuit too late. But in 2008, a three judge panel in Illinois’ Fifth District Court of Appeals in Mt. Vernon ruled that Amenn's case could proceed. That ruling relaxed the statute of limitations, and opened the door to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other lawsuits like Amenn’s.

In November 2008, however, the three Catholic bishops appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court to try and overturn it. Oral arguments were heard in March 2009. The litigation stems from a 2003 state law that makes it easier for victims to expose child molesters in court.

In defending themselves, the three bishops are essentially blaming each other for the notorious priest’s sex crimes and distancing themselves from him, SNAP says. SNAP charges that the top church officials are engaging in "disgusting, unChristian, and hurtful hairsplitting" and "using legal maneuvers that are unbecoming of alleged spiritual leaders.” Instead of taking responsibility and showing compassion, SNAP maintains, the bishops "are spending thousands of dollars, donated by generous parishioners, to point fingers, shift blame, and protect themselves instead of protecting kids”

Because of several child sex abuse allegations against him, Roberts has been suspended but not defrocked. Church records show that Roberts has violated his suspension and has been “associating with children and teenagers."

Roberts is the author of several highly popular books, including "From Playboy to Priest" and has appeared in recent years on a widely-watched Catholic program through the Eternal Word Television Network. He now lives in the Cincinnati Ohio area. For a decade, Roberts lived and worked in three St. Louis are parishes.

A photo of Roberts is available at http://fatherjoe.wordpress.com/2007/04/03/usccb-monitus-fr-ken-roberts/

The victim’s attorney is Jeff Anderson of St. Paul MN (612 817 8665 cell). Since the mid-1980s, Anderson's firm has sued hundreds of employers, primarily religious groups, for hiring, shielding and transferring child molesters.

CONTACT
Springfield: David Clohessy 314 566 9790 cell
Belleville: Judy Jones 636 433 2511 cell
Either city: Barbara Blaine 312 399 4747 (SNAP founder and president, an attorney and a social worker)


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


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