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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Child sex victim speaks publicly for the first time

His new lawsuit charges child sex abuse in Africa

It’s first such case arising, in part, from Oct. national church report

Presbyterian panel has already acknowledged that crimes happened

Despite awareness of earlier crimes, church failed to stop predator, lawsuit says

Victims urge others who “saw, suspected or suffered” sex crimes overseas to come forward

WHAT
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy abuse victims will disclose and discuss a new child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit against the Presbyterian Church in the US (PCUSA) involving sex crimes and church complicity in Africa. They will also
--- blast Presbyterian officials for doing little or nothing to stop the child molester,
--- prod church authorities to join with them in trying to reform predator-friendly state child sex laws, and
---urge other “missionary kids” who were assaulted overseas in Presbyterian facilities to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrong-doing, protect children and start healing.

WHEN
Monday, Dec. 13 at 1:30 p.m.

WHERE
At the office of the Oldfather law firm, 1330 S. Third Street, in Louisville, KY

WHO
The victim, his wife, his attorney, and two other clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)

WHY
According to the new suit, at the age of 14, in 1988, Sean Thomas Coppedge was molested in the Congo by an older teenager. At the time, Sean’s parents were Presbyterian missionaries. Both Sean and the predator attended the American School of Kinshasa which was, according to the suit, “established, maintained, controlled and supervised by” officials of the Presbyterian Church USA, headquartered in Louisville (502 569 5000).

Sean reported the crime immediately to church officials but little was done.

A national church panel, set up in 2004, “confirmed that (Sean) was at least the second victim of this predator, and that (church officials) "failed to prevent" his abuse. (The predator is named in the report.) In October, that committee completed its work and confirmed 29 incidents of sexual abuse of missionary children. Missionary kids, SNAP says, are especially vulnerable to pedophiles because they are often in the care of others and separated from their parents.

The lawsuit maintains that PCUSA staff were “aware, or should have been aware, of the predator’s harmful conduct and/or molestations of students, yet negligently failed to report (it), concealed (it), failed to take any action to investigate (it), failed to protect (Sean), and failed to warn and inform (Sean) of the predator’s propensities.” The suit, which seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages), will be filed in the Jefferson County Court.

The victim and others will also urge top Presbyterian authorities to honor a recent recommendation by church experts that “support changes in state laws for suspending the statute of limitations.” He is also pushing for other action and reforms by denominational authorities to seek out and help others who have been assaulted and prevent such crimes and cover ups in the future.

The predator is believed to be living now in Orlando FL. Sean, now 36, is married and lives in California.

Sean is represented by St. Paul MN attorney Jeff Anderson (651 227 9990, 612 817 8665 cell) Louisville attorney Ann Oldfather (502 637 7200) and Cincinnati OH attorney Konrad Kircher (513 229 7996, 513 218 1252 cell).

CONTACT - David Clohessy SNAP director 314 566 9790 SNAPclohessy@aol.com, Barbara Dorris, SNAP outreach director 314 503 0003 SNAPdorris@gmail.com


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