The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Wednesday, July 21
Sex abuse victims beg bishop for help
Nuns bring in accused Iowa child molester
He’s been sued for sexually assaulting a student
SNAP: And others who have been hurt by him are speaking up
Case is pending, so inviting him to WI is “reckless,” group says
A support group for child sex abuse victims is writing Madison’s Catholic bishop and a group of Wisconsin nuns about an upcoming choir performance directed by an accused child molester. The group wants the event cancelled and a public apology for what they consider an “irresponsible and reckless decision that could jeopardize children.”
Leaders of a Chicago-based self help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing Bishop Robert Morlino about Bradley T. Barrett of Iowa, who directs the Chorale Midwest choir. This Sunday (7/25), the choir is to sing in Sinsinawa Mound at a concert hosted by Dominican nuns.
In a civil lawsuit filed in April 2009, Barrett is accused of repeatedly molesting the then-15 year old Adam Walker in the mid-1990s when Barrett was a teacher in the Rogersville School District, near Springfield MO.
“You are responsible for the safety and well-being of every Catholic in your diocese,” SNAP’s letter to Morlino begins. “A simple Google search would have shown that there’s a current civil lawsuit, filed just last year, charging that Barrett repeatedly molested a Missouri boy. Given this fact, it’s stunningly careless for you to let any Catholic group bring Barrett into your diocese.”
SNAP wants Morlino to cancel the concert, or insist that Barrett not come, and pledge that Barrett will never be invited into the Madison diocese again.
SNAP fears that Bishop Morlino will “split hairs” and claim he has no control over the nuns.
“In child sex cases, bishops often pretend to be powerless,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s director. “But the church is a monarchy and the bishop is essentially king of his diocese. He can, and should, insist that the nuns disinvite Barrett.”
“Three weeks ago, the Pope promised to ‘do everything possible’ to prevent future clergy sex crimes,” SNAP wrote. “Voluntarily inviting credibly accused child molesters into Catholic facilities and settings contradicts not only common sense, but the Pope’s promise as well.”
Barrett’s appearance at the nun’s facility also “rubs salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds” of abuse victims, whether assaulted by Barrett or any predator, Clohessy says.
“It hurts to see the same church hierarchy that ignored or concealed hundreds of thousands of clergy sex crimes acting so callously even now,” he said. “If there’s any organization that should be working the hardest to root out predators, it’s the Catholic hierarchy. But in the Madison diocese, nuns are bringing in a credibly accused abuser. It’s just reckless.”
Clohessy says he knows one of Barrett’s victims well and that several others who report having been victimized by him in southwest Missouri.
“I look forward to putting others who were assaulted by Barrett on the witness stand as soon possible,” said Walker’s attorney, Rebecca Randles of Kansas City (510 2704 cell).
“The victim who is suing, Adam Walker, is a very credible and caring man who desperately wants to make sure that Barrett doesn’t get a chance to assault one more kid,” Clohessy said. “He’s represented by a very experienced attorney who has handled hundreds of child sex abuse cases, and he’s acting responsibly by warning others about this dangerous predator so they can keep their children away from him.”
Barrett is also set to lead a performance Tuesday, July 27 at the Iowa State Choral Directors Association meeting in Mason City. SNAP is sending a similar letter to that organization as well.
Walker’s lawsuit, filed in the Western Missouri District of the U.S. District Court, accuses Barrett of using his position as a teacher and "the promise of travel with high school choral programs as a means of gaining access to (Walker) and other similarly situated students."
Shortly after the suit was filed last year, the University of Northern Iowa suspended Barrett.
Barrett is represented by attorney, David Bell of Kansas City MO.
A copy of SNAP’s letter, sent today by fax and e mail, is below:
Bishop Robert Morlino
Dear Bishop Morlino:
We are writing about a credibly accused child molester who was recently sued and lost his teaching job but will soon lead a concert in your diocese.
He’s Bradley T. Barrett and this Sunday, he’ll be at the Sinsinawa Mound (near Dubuque), which run by Dominican nuns. Barrett leads the Chorale Midwest and the Chorale Midwest Chamber Singers.
Last year, he was sued for molesting a boy in Missouri. That lawsuit is still pending. Administrators at the University of Northern Iowa (Barrett’s most recent employer) have fired him. And in Missouri in the last few months, others have come forward reporting abuse by Barrett as well.
You are responsible for the safety and well-being of every Catholic in your diocese. A simple Google search would have shown that there’s a current civil lawsuit, filed just last year, charging that Barrett repeatedly molested a Missouri boy. Given this fact, it’s stunningly careless for you to let any Catholic group bring Barrett into your diocese.
We know the man who has courageously taken legal action to expose Barrett and protect other children. We know his attorneys, who are very experienced in this field, having represented hundreds of child molestation victims.
Even after filing suit, Walker continues to take other steps to warn parents and protect kids.
For these reasons and others, this is a credible allegation. Any reasonable decision-maker would think long and hard before giving a position of respect and honor, not to mention greater access to kids, to Barrett.
Yet that’s precisely what some Catholic nuns in your diocese are doing.
Letting this invitation stand is harmful in at least three ways.
First, it takes only seconds for a child predator to shove his hands into a child’s pants. So it’s very risky to let a credibly accused child molester like Barrett into any facility with children present or nearby. Why take this risk, Bishop, or allow others in the Catholic hierarchy do so?
Second, every ounce of credibility and respectability given to a child predator is dangerous. Giving such a man a position of honor or leadership, even briefly, boosts his ability to seem trustworthy and gain access to more unsuspecting families. Even if he doesn’t see or chat with a child while in Sinsinawa Mound, he may well use this opportunity to meet or further ingratiate himself with unsuspecting parents whose families he’ll visit later scouting for more prospective victims. Again, why take this risk?
Third, letting Barrett perform at a Catholic facility sends a hurtful message to all abuse victims – no matter their perpetrator may have been. It rubs salt into already deep and often still fresh wounds. It shows a lack of sensitivity and compassion toward victims by those who honor and trust and invite predators into their institutions.
Because of these concerns, we are urging you to cancel the concert. If you can’t or won’t do that, we urge you to insist that Barrett stay home and that you make sure that no one else in your diocese ever invites him back. Or you can insist that the concert’s organizers make it clear to participants and attendees that Barrett faces pending legal action charging him with repeatedly molesting a boy.
Our request may seem problematic to you – the sudden cancellation of a long-planned event might be controversial. But keep in mind that last year, the University of Iowa, because of the allegations against Barrett, cancelled its spring choral concert (with more than 300 students involved and parents flying in from all across the country). And keep in mind that the safety of innocent children and the healing of wounded victims trumps the convenience and preference of adults.
We know you will be tempted to split hairs and parse words and feign powerlessness. Your public relations staff and legal defense team may suggest that you point out that the nuns are a religious order, legally separate from your diocese itself.
True or not, these kinds of artificial distinctions are hurtful, not helpful. You realize, of course, that it is your duty (as it is the duty of every caring adult) to try and prevent child sex crimes. As shepherd of your flock and essentially the CEO of your diocese, it’s your moral obligation to try and safeguard that flock, especially when risks are being posed at Catholic institutions.
We strongly suspect that if the Dominican nuns were lobbying in Madison for the death penalty, abortion rights or gay marriage, you would not take a “hands off” approach. You would most certainly use all your influence and power to stop them.
So please don’t pretend to be uninvolved. Please use your considerable power to stop this reckless and callous move, and make sure that Brad Barrett is never invited back into your diocese.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests