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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Child sex abuse victims want bishop to do “outreach”

Serial child molesting cleric abused while at local church

Six men resolved civil lawsuit last fall in Dallas against predator priest

Despite multi-million dollar settlement, he’s never been “outed” in Oklahoma

SNAP says local Catholic officials should “aggressively seek out & help” other victims

Group begs those who “saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes” to “come forward”

WHAT
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will
-- discuss a $4.6 million child sex and cover up lawsuit settlement last fall with Catholic officials, and
-- beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered the Oklahoma pedophile priest’s crimes or misdeeds to get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, and start healing.

They will also prod Oklahoma’s archbishop to
--explain and apologize for his secrecy about the allegations and the settlement, and
--permanently post on his website the names and whereabouts of all proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.

WHEN
Thursday, Aug. 12, at 10:30 a.m.

WHERE
Outside the Catholic headquarters (chancery office), 7501 NW Expressway in Oklahoma City

WHO
Two clergy sex abuse victims who are members of SNAP the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a Missouri man who is the group's long time executive director

WHY
Last October, a $4.65 million settlement was announced involving lawsuits by six men who were abused as boys by Fr. Thomas Behnke, a Catholic priest. Although most of them were abused at a parochial school in Dallas, some of the abuse took place while Behnke worked in Oklahoma City at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Thérèse, (popularly known as "Little Flower Catholic Church) at 1125 S. Walker Ave.

Overall, Behnke worked in the Oklahoma City archdiocese for at least eight years, according to the Official Catholic Directory. From 1954-1955 and again from 1969-1974, Behnke lived and worked at Little Flower. He also staffed the mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 2123 SW 11th Street (Packingtown), Oklahoma City. In addition, for two years (1966-1968), he worked at Holy Rosary parish in Hartshorne, now part of the diocese of Tulsa.

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news13/2009_10_17_TurleyLawCenter_465Millon_Thomas_Benhke_1.htm
http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2009/09_10/2009_10_17_Hodges_6Men.htm

As best SNAP can tell, Behnke’s crimes and his presence in Oklahoma have never been publicly disclosed by Oklahoma City Archbishop Eusebius Beltran or local news media.

SNAP will challenge Beltran to publicly apologize for and explain his silence, and to seek out others hurt by Behnke who may still be “suffering in shame, silence and self blame.” Specifically, SNAP wants Beltran to use church websites, parish bulletins, local pulpits, and his archdiocesan newspaper and website to publicize Behnke’s crimes.

All six boys known publicly to have been abused by Behnke were about 11-12 years old when the abuse began. Most were students at St. Mary of Carmel School in Dallas. The crimes happened in the rectory and during trips.

Four years before being sent to Dallas, Behnke spent five years working at Little Flower in Oklahoma City. While at Little Flower is also allegedly abused at least one child although it’s not clear where the victims lived.

He also worked for three years at Dallas’ Catholic Cathedral and was then sent to work in San Antonio.

Behnke belongs to an Oklahoma City-based religious order called the Discalced Carmelite Friars (405-235-2037), which was one of the two defendants in the cases. (The other was the Dallas Catholic diocese.) Behnke also allegedly molested at least one child in San Antonio Texas in the 1950s. Behnke died in 2008 at age 86.

The victims are represented by Dallas attorney Lori Watson and Linda Turley (214-691-4025, loriw@wturley.com).

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-settle_17met.ART.State.Edition1.4c3aec2.html

Six weeks ago, Pope Benedict promised that the Catholic hierarchy would “do everything possible” to prevent future abuse. In light of that pledge, SNAP is urging Beltran to follow the lead of 24 US bishops and disclose the names of all proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics and church workers who have lived or worked in his archdiocese. In recent months, bishops in two Massachusetts dioceses (Boston and Springfield) have said they will release such lists. http://www.cbs3springfield.com/news/local/96332319.html and http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/13/cardinal_sean_omalley_cites_progress_made_against_clergy_abuse/

SNAP wants the list to include ALL credibly accused clerics - living and dead, diocesan and religious order, those ordained here and those ordained elsewhere, and those in all religious positions (deacons, brothers, nuns, bishops, seminarians and lay workers). The group wants the names permanently posted on the archdiocesan website and included periodically in each of the hundreds of weekly parish bulletins given out at mass. The information should include the cleric’s seminary background, assignment history, and current status, and be regularly updated to include newly accused individuals.

In 2002, Baltimore became the first US diocese to disclose names. A good current example is the Philadelphia archdiocese: http://archphila.org/protection/Updates/update_main.htm.) Here is a list of all the dioceses that have disclosed names: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm

CONTACT
David Clohessy 314 566 9790 cell (SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris 314 503 0003 cell


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