The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Wednesday, Sept 22
Trial is next week for accused predator priest
Victims group begs anyone with info to contact police
Cleric worked in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia
SNAP: “Wheeling, Allentown and Manchester bishops must reach out”
Next week, an accused child molesting cleric is scheduled to go on trial on charges that he sexually assaulted an 11 year old girl last summer.
Fr. Felix Owino was arrested in July and indicted by a Fairfax, Virginia grand jury. His trial begins Sept. 29.
“Now more than ever, it is crucial that bishops reach out to every current and former staff, student and parishioner who was around Owino,” says Barb Dorris, Outreach Director of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "If anyone has information of crimes and misconduct by this priest they need to contact police right away."
Owino, a native of Kenya, spent time at three Catholic colleges: Dusquene University in Pittsburgh, Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia and Magdalen College in Warner New Hampshire. He also worked at a parish in Reading PA in the Allentown diocese and one in Pittsburgh.
After being prodded by SNAP, Pittsburgh’s bishop sent a notice out urging other victims to come forward. But SNAP is upset that bishops in New Hampshire, West Virginia and Allentown PA “have done little, if anything, to help encourage those with knowledge of Owino’s misdeeds to come forward,” Dorris said.
SNAP wants top church officials to personally visit each place where Owino worked, reminding them of their “civic and moral duty” to contact law enforcement, Dorris said.
“Often, these predator priests get top notch defense lawyers, play on the court’s sympathy, and get off on technicalities or receive very light sentences,” said Judy Jones, SNAP’s Midwest Associate Director.
"Owino was recently working at a Weirton, WV parish with an elementary school,” said Jones. "We fear that children may have been harmed there but are too afraid to speak."
In a letter earlier this month to bishops in three states where Owino worked, SNAP leaders wrote “Because of archaic, predator-friendly statutes of limitations, and lengthy, effective cover ups by Catholic officials, few priests ever face criminal prosecution. It's crucial that when one does, everyone involved do everything they can to help police and prosecutors do their jobs so that child molesters can be kept away from kids and future child sex crimes can be prevented.”
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests