The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009
For more information: David Clohessy 314 566 9790, Terry McKiernan 508 479 9304
Over 1,400 pages about pedophile priests still hidden
Clergy sex abuse victims & advocates urge newspapers to get them
“They’re likely the most helpful & damning records,” two groups say
Organizations also blast Bridgeport bishop for “last minute legal maneuver” on secrecy
Two national groups focused on the Catholic clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis are urging four newspapers to “fight hard” to get 1,488 secret documents about clergy sex crimes and cover ups that were withheld at the last minute recently by the Bridgeport Diocese, saying that “some of the most helpful and illuminating records are still being hidden under dubious claims by a frightened, duplicitous bishop.”
Leaders of a research group called BishopAccountability.org and a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org), are writing attorneys for the news outlets who took legal action to get access to the long-secret church files about seven accused predator priests in the Bridgeport Diocese. SNAP wants them to “continue the battle to get what you sought – the full records about the full cover up.”
The newspapers are the New York Times, the Hartford Courant, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe.
“An important but only partial victory has been achieved for public safety, and it would be a shame to let corrupt church officials succeed in keeping a lid on many of the most explosive files which almost certainly prove even more recklessness and deceit," said David Clohessy, national director of SNAP.
“Lori is unilaterally withholding 12 % of the records a judge ordered him to turn over,” said Terry McKiernan of Boston. He heads an independent research organization called BishopAccountability.org. “Most of them are from priests’ personnel files, and in our experience, those are almost always far more telling than what’s contained in depositions and other records.”
"We suspect that Catholics would be far more upset if they had a chance to read those files that are the real reason Lori continues to fight for secrecy," said Clohessy. “But, more important, Catholics and citizens need to see these records so they can better protect their kids from dangerous church employees and themselves from deceptive church officials.”
(In a separate legal struggle, Lori is also trying to keep 126 boxes of records secret about eight accused predator priests who all worked at one parish in Trumbull, Connecticut. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/26/nyregion/26abuse.html)
For almost eight years, SNAP contends, Lori’s lawyers could have raised objections to disclosing certain records. But instead, on the very day a court ordered the records to be released, Lori withheld many of the crucial files, claiming again various “privileges” on documents that had been ordered released.
One of the missing documents the groups are most interested in concerns then-Bishop Edward Egan’s second-in-command, Fr. Laurence Bronkiewicz. Three copies of an affidavit by Bronkiewicz about Fr. Raymond Pcolka are each missing page 2.
Two pages are also missing from a deposition by Egan himself.
“It’s not a medical or therapy record,” says McKiernan, “so it’s hard to imagine on what grounds Bishop Lori thinks he gets to keep this hidden.”
According to an article in last week’s Connecticut Post, Bronkiewicz is one of “two senior diocesan prelates (who) reviewed sex abuse complaints against priests and gave orders to move them around. Both men remain active in the diocese and hold senior positions.” Bronkiewicz is pastor of St. Mary's Church in Ridgefield, “one of the wealthiest parishes in the diocese,” according to the Post. http://www.connpost.com/ci_13936153?source=most_viewed
SNAP is also urging others who’ve been sexually violated by clergy to continue “coming forwarding, speaking up, calling police, getting help and piecing their lives back together,” regardless of what happens with the still-concealed records.
“Victims, witnesses and whistleblowers should still speak up, get help, expose predators, protect kids, and start healing,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. “No matter what courts or judges or bishops do or don’t do, we can share what we know about crimes and cover ups and we can recover from the horrific betrayal and trauma we’ve experienced.”
Dorris also considers the still-hidden records crucial, however.
“Without these additional documents, the public and parishioners will never know how extensive the cover up is,” said Dorris.
BishopAccountability.org is a library and internet archive of the Catholic sex abuse and financial crisis.
SNAP is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. Founded in 1988, it is based in Chicago and has nearly 9,000 members nationwide. Despite the word “priest” in its title, SNAP helps people who were victimized by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Their website is SNAPnetwork.org.
SNAP has two goals: to comfort the wounded and protect the vulnerable.
For a copy of the groups’ letters, contact SNAPadmin1@gmail.com.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests