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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Clergy sex abuse victims want action on 2 accused bishops

Suit against one of them, now dead, was resolved last month

Several lawsuits against the other, still alive, have also settled

But KC diocese stays mum about allegations against both men

One molested in Hawaii and brought other KC priests there with him

Self-help group urges lay people on church panel to "get to work or quit"

Organization also challenges Bishop Finn to "live up to your promise to be open"

WHAT:
Holding signs at a sidewalk news conference, clergy molestation victims will blast Kansas City's Catholic bishop for failing to disclose civil child molestation lawsuits and settlements (including one last month against a bishop) and urge him to
--- aggressively reach out to others who've been hurt by the two bishops, and
--- strongly lobby his colleagues in Hawaii, Louisiana, Texas and Wyoming to do likewise.

They will also prod
--- members of the bishop's hand-picked sex abuse panel to "do their jobs or quit," and
--- anyone who witnessed, suspected or experienced clergy sex crimes to come forward, get help, and call police.

WHEN:
TODAY, Friday, Nov. 6, 10:00 a.m.

WHERE:
Outside the chancery (diocesan headquarters) at 300 East 36th Street, Kansas City, MO

WHO:
Three clergy abuse victims who belong to 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 long time national director

WHY:
SNAP is upset that Kansas City MO's Catholic officials continue to say and do virtually nothing about two Kansas City priests who became bishops, were sent elsewhere, were sued for molesting boys and have had such suits against them settled. The alleged predators are Bishop Joseph Hart and Bishop Joseph V. Sullivan.

Last month, a civil child sex abuse lawsuit accusing Sullivan of abuse was settled for $225,000 (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2009/09_10/2009_10_16_Thomas_SexAbuse.htm). Last year, five men settled similar child molestation cases against Hart (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2008/0708/2008_08_21_CasperStarTribune_KansasCity.htm).

Yet Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn refuses to disclose lawsuits or settlements involving either predator, acknowledge their guilt, or reach out to their victims.

In 2007, according to the KC Star, the Kansas City Diocese contributed $10,000 to help settle a case against Sullivan but failed to disclose it to parishioners or the public. That lawsuit charged that Sullivan sexually abused a boy during visits to Hawaii from 1969 to 1977. According to a high ranking church official's sworn 2006 deposition, Sullivan "vacationed in Hawaii every year" for almost a decade, "owned an apartment or condo there with other KC priests." This wasn't disclosed either. SNAP fears that other KC boys were taken there and abused or boys from Hawaii may have also been molested by KC clerics there.

Every diocese is required to have a 'review board' that "reviews cases and makes recommendations to the bishop about the status of the accused." SNAP has seen no evidence that the KC board has ever investigated allegations against either bishop. (This is especially problematic with Hart because he maintains his innocence and Finn stays silent about the accusations against him.) SNAP will publicly urge the members of that panel to either do their jobs or resign.

Sullivan was bishop of the Baton Rouge LA Diocese from 1974-1982. (Previously he had been an auxiliary bishop in KC). The accusation against Sullivan stems from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Hart was a bishop in Cheyenne WY from 1976-2001, when he retired. The allegations against him stem from his years at five KC parishes (Guardian Angel, Visitation, St. Therese, St. James, and St.John Francis Regis). Accusations of sexual misconduct against Hart surfaced first in 1989 and 1992.

According to the diocesan website, members of the Kansas City MO diocesan review board include Jill McGee (Chairperson), Rabbi Mark Levin (913-498-2212 Ext. 110), James Caccamo (816-701-8222), Fr. Robert Stewart (816-246-6800), Msgr. Robert Murphy (816-756-1850, ext. 228 or 800-246-1850) and Leslie Guillot (816-361-2666). The latter three are diocesan employees.

http://www.diocese-kcsj.org/content/protecting_children/safety_policies/

Hart is still alive and lives in Wyoming. Hart's Kansas City lawyer is Larry Ward. His victims are represented by Rebecca Randles and Sarah Brown (816-931-9901). In the settlement last month, Sullivan's victim was represented by Houston attorneys Chelsie King Garza and Mynor Rodriguez. Sullivan died in 1982.

CONTACT
David Clohessy 314 566 9790 cell, Kay Goodnow 913 709 9652, Mike Hunter 913 634 6490.


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