The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009
For more information: Judy Jones 636 433 2511, David Clohessy 314 566 9790
Predator who broke bail agreement is freed again
Clergy sex victims write Vermont governor in protest
Told to stay put, alleged child molester drove to Missouri
And told to avoid kids, he carries a baby into courthouse
"State is failing to protect the vulnerable," group contends
He was told to avoid young girls, but an accused child molester walked into a White River Junction court room last week carrying his baby. And though he was told to stay in Vermont, the accused sex offender drove to within miles of his alleged victim in Missouri.
Still, the alleged criminal was released on Saturday Dec.19th from jail for the second time this month and now walks free. A self help group wants to know why and wants answers from Vermont’s governor.
Leaders of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those abused by Priests, believe Vermont's top elected official should find out why Paul J. Cool isn't behind bars.
“If an accused bank robber makes bail, goes and buys another gun, then waves it around near a bank, we suspect Vermont authorities wouldn’t be so casual about it,” said Judy Jones, SNAP’s assistant Midwest director.
Like several other alleged child molesters who were arrested last month in a high profile case, Cool was associated with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which since 2001 has been known as the Community of Christ, a controversial group based in Independence MO.
But despite what SNAP calls "quick, clear, and serious violations of his probation requirements," Cool is not locked up and SNAP’s asking Vermont Governor Jim Douglas for an investigation.
“We understand Cool hasn’t been convicted,” said Jones. “But any alleged child predator who so flagrantly and immediately and egregiously violates a judge’s order must be considered dangerous and out of control.”
Here’s the chronology:
Nov.16 - Cool was arrested in DeKalb County MO and charged with lewd-and-lascivious conduct, and lewd-and-lascivious conduct with a child
Dec. 4 - Cool raised $25,000 bail and was freed
Dec. 7 - Cool was spotted at a Wal-Mart in St. Joseph’s, Missouri
Dec. 11 - Cool turned himself in to Vermont law enforcement but was not re-arrested
Dec. 18 - Cool walks into a White River Junction court room carrying a baby girl and is arrested by Hartford Police
Dec. 19 - Cool gets out of jail again
“Something is seriously wrong when a judge tells an accused criminal ‘stay here’ and ‘keep away from your accuser,’ yet he immediately travels across country to be near her and suffers virtually no consequences,” said Jones. “How can an alleged child molester so quickly, clearly and egregiously thumb his nose at a judge and get by with it?”
Jones says she suspects Cool is trying to intimidate his victim into withdrawing charges.
“Why else would he drive hundreds of miles back to Missouri in obvious violation of a judge’s restrictions?” she asks.
“We don’t know or care whose fault this is,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s national director. “But one way to protect kids is to make sure accused predators honor the conditions put on them by the courts for their release, and that’s clearly not happening here."
“Law enforcement officials sometimes wonder why child sex abuse and adult rape victims don’t report the crimes,” said Jones. “One reason is this kind of callousness and recklessness.”
Cool’s victims should be protected, SNAP says.
“The brave young woman did her moral and civic duty cooperating with the law,” said Clohessy. “Now, it’s time that Vermont authorities protect her from more harm.”
“Child predators are often shrewd and cunning. Once arrested, they can become especially desperate, and have been known to intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, destroy evidence, fabricate alibis, and even flee the country,” Jones said. “All of this is much easier if you’re walking free, instead of behind bars."
A group of Community of Christ members and leaders were arrested in November in Lafayette County MO on multiple charges of forcible sodomy and rape. At least six alleged victims have come forward and described the horrific childhood abuse they suffered at the hands of these men. Authorities believe there is a "strong possibility" of more victims.
Officials involved in the case include:
The Wal-Mart Tire Express in St. Joseph, MO, where Cool was spotted, is at 816 390 8855.
A copy of SNAP’s letter to the governor, sent today by fax is (below):
Dear Gov. Douglas:
We're very troubled that an alleged child molester who lived in Missouri but reportedly abused in Vermont has twice been freed recently in your state despite quickly, clearly and egregiously violating the terms of his release.
We are asking that you launch an investigation into how this accused sex offender, Paul J. Cool, manages to walk free with virtually no consequences even though he violated a judge's order
There are, we believe, only two explanation for Cool's actions. The first is that by he is trying to intimidate his victim, by driving to Missouri, near where she lives, hoping she will withdraw her abuse report. The second is that he is simply out of control.
Under either scenario, Cool is dangerous. And it's troubling that the Vermont judicial system doesn't seem to realize this.
Because of the excessive leniency he's enjoyed, Cool's victim remains terrified and children, we believe, remain at risk.
Please don't wait until someone else gets hurt. Please use your authority to launch an investigation into this case, and let citizens know that child sex crimes are taken seriously in your state. (If you don't have the formal power to do this, please use your bully pulpit to urge the legislature or the Attorney General to do this.)
But please don't sit back and ignore this disturbing situation.
It's possible that Cool molested other kids - in either Vermont, Missouri or elsewhere. It's possible that these children could testify against him. And it's likely there are others who saw or suspected Cool's crimes who could also help law enforcement get him prosecuted and jailed.
But these important individuals may stay silent, if they see Cool continue to thumb his nose at Vermont authorities yet be released with few real restrictions.
In short, we need your help to make sure that Cool is treated appropriately, his victim is treated compassionately, and his crimes are punished thoroughly - both his abuse of a girl and his abuse of the justice system.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests