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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Sex abuse victims beg choir directors for help
They’re letting an accused child molester perform
Teacher has been sued for sexually assaulting a student
And other victims are coming forward, support group says
Case is pending, so inviting him to event is “reckless,” group believes
A support group for child sex abuse victims is writing a statewide Iowa music organization about an upcoming performance headed by an accused child molester. The support 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 officers with Iowa State Choral Directors Association about Bradley T. Barrett of Iowa, who directs the Chorale Midwest choir, which is set to perform at the association’s meeting on Tuesday in Mason City.
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 everyone in your organization, and as teachers, you should be especially concerned about the safety of kids,” SNAP’s letter to the association’s board 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 the association to cancel the concert, or insist that Barrett not come, and pledge that Barrett will never be invited to similar association events again.
SNAP fears that the organization’s leadership is being swayed by their personal experiences with Barrett.
“Child predators are often very likeable, even charismatic individuals,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s director. “And it’s much easier to side with someone some of your members probably know like Barrett over someone you don’t know, like his victims.”
“Still,” Clohessy says, “Voluntarily inviting credibly accused child molesters to events and giving them roles of prominence is inviting disaster.”
Barrett’s appearance at the event 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 allegedly responsible adults acting so callously even now,” he said. “If there’s any organization that should be working the hardest to root out predators, it’s those in education. But teachers 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 Sunday, July 25 at Sinsinawa Mound, Wisconsin hosted by Dominican nuns. SNAP is sending a similar letter to Madison Bishop Robert Morlino urging the cancellation of that event too.
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.
The Choral Directors Association board members live and work in the following towns: Altoona, Washington, Council Bluffs, Decorah, Jefferson, Goodell, Arthur, Cedar Rapids, Mount Pleasant, Ames, Iowa City, Dedham, Newton, Grinnell and West Des Moines. Its president is Roger Henderson of Grinnell High School (641 236-2720, 641 236-4301). Its president elect is Norm Grimm of Newton High School (641 792 5797, 712 441 0138.) The group’s website is http://www.iowachoral.org/directory/exec.html
A copy of SNAP’s letter, sent today by e mail, is below:
July 21, 2010
Dear Mr. Henderson and Mr. Grimm:
We are writing about a credibly accused child molester who was recently sued and lost his teaching job but will soon lead a concert sponsored by your organization.
He’s Bradley T. Barrett and this Tuesday, he’ll be at the statewide meeting of your group. 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 member of your association. A simple Google search would have shown that there’s a current civil lawsuit, filed just last year, charging that Barrett repeatedly molested this Missouri boy. Given this fact, it’s stunningly careless for you to let a man like Barrett into your organization’s statewide meeting.
We know Adam Walker, 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 safeguard 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 your group is 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 performance or meeting at which children may be present or nearby. Why take this risk? How will you feel years from now, when Barrett is arrested for molesting a child whose parents he met and befriended at one of your organization’s events?
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 at your Mason City meeting, 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 your meeting sends a hurtful message to all abuse victims – no matter who 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 association 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.
Please don’t pretend to be uninvolved. Please use your position 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