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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

For immediate release: Wednesday, Dec. 22

For more information: David Clohessy 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com

Clergy sex abuse victims blast Bar Harbor officials

Group urges background checks by Housing Authority

They also want Maine bishop to reach out to others hurt by predator priest

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is criticizing Bar Harbor officials over a twice-convicted predator priest who lives now in publicly-financed housing and was, until two weeks ago, on a government housing panel.

Leaders of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) are writing members of the Bar Harbor Housing Authority board and the Bar Harbor Town Council about Fr. Walter Dayton Salisbury.

Earlier this month, the Bangor Daily News revealed that Salisbury is a twice-convicted child molester who has, for years, been living in public housing and serving on the housing authority’s board.

SNAP wants both bodies to apologize for their “recklessness” and to aggressively reach out to anyone who “may have seen, suspected or suffered” any crimes Salisbury may have committed in Maine.

They also want him kicked out of public housing.

“We don’t mean to be punitive, but there are plenty of low income people who aren’t twice-convicted child predators and who need and deserve publicly-subsidized housing,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. :”And if Catholic officials choose to keep a twice convicted child molester on their payroll, the least they can do is to house him in a secure, remote treatment center so that kids are safer and so that he can get professional help.”

http://www.bangordailynews.com/story/Hancock/Former-priest-who-is-convicted-sex-offender-resigns-Bar-Harbor-board,160547

Copies of SNAP’s letters to the Housing Authority Board and the Town Council, sent today by fax and mail, are below:
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Dec. 23, 2010

Dear Members of the Bar Harbor Housing Authority board:

Regardless of whether Fr. Walter Salisbury must legally register as a sex offender, this much is clear: at least twice he’s been convicted of molesting kids and he’s kept this fact hidden from your staff, board and residents. We believe he should not be living in public housing and that you have a moral obligation to aggressively seek out anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered any crimes he may have committed in recent years in Maine.

We understand that he lives among elderly people for the most part. But that’s no consolation. He’s a well-educated predator who has assaulted children. We seriously doubt that he has somehow magically “reformed,” and we strongly suspect he has hurt other kids in Maine in recent years.

But speculating isn’t particularly helpful. Nor is inaction or complacency. Only three steps can make a difference now to vulnerable kids and wounded adults.

The first is to remove Salisbury from public housing. This is helpful in several ways. First, it sends a strong signal to anyone associated with the Bar Harbor Housing Authority – whether staff, resident, volunteer or vendor – that child sex crimes and deceit about child sex crimes will not be tolerated. Second, it uproots a predator that may right now be molesting a child who lives nearby or visits relatives nearby. Or he might be slowly and carefully “grooming” a vulnerable child right now. If Salisbury has to suddenly move, his routines and access to some kids is at least temporarily disrupted. That may sound insignificant. But when it comes to the safety of children, any delay or difficulty thrown in the path of a child molester is helpful.

The second helpful step is assertive outreach to others who may have knowledge of Salisbury’s possible misconduct. In our 22 years of working with victims, time and time again we’ve seen that when caring people in authority reach out to others who may have been hurt, it can make a real difference. Such a compassionate approach helps reduce the shame, confusion, fear and self-blame that many abuse victims feel. In addition, it’s just the right thing to do. We strongly urge you to use mailings, newsletters, websites and news releases to prod others who may be suffering in silence to step forward, share their secret, and begin to heal.

The third helpful step is of course to adopt policies and practices that help weed out convicted child molesters from your housing and your panels in the future. We trust you will do this soon.

But just to be clear - we are mainly worried about anyone who may have been hurt by Salisbury in Maine during the time he’s been in your housing and on your board. Again, we emphasize that outreach is crucial. You can, of course, take the “penny-wise, pound-foolish” and morally irresponsible course of action: doing nothing to seek out and console those he may have injured. Or you can act responsibly and use your resources to beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing. We hope you will show courage and compassion and do what’s right.

David Clohessy
Executive Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790 cell

Barbara Dorris
Outreach Coordinator, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
6245 Westminster
St. Louis MO 63130
314 503 0003

Dec. 23, 2010

Dear Town Council:

Through public comments made earlier this month by Ruth Eveland in the Bangor Daily News, it’s clear that the Council does little or nothing to make sure that individuals it appoints to various boards are safe. We’re troubled by this news, and hope that, for the sake of Bar Harbor families, you have already taken steps to remedy this failing.

We also hope that you will go further. We hope that you will apologize to citizens for your lax approach to children’s safety and take immediate steps to reach out to anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by Fr. Walter Salisbury.

Assertive outreach to others who may have knowledge of Salisbury’s possible misconduct can make a real difference. Such a compassionate approach helps reduce the shame, confusion, fear and self-blame that many abuse victims feel. In addition, it’s just the right thing to do. We strongly urge you to use mailings, newsletters, websites and news releases to prod others who may be suffering in silence to step forward, share their secret, and begin to heal.

But just to be clear - we are mainly worried about anyone who may have been hurt by Salisbury in Maine during the time he’s been in public housing and on the local housing authority board (because, in part, your council appointed him). Again, we emphasize that outreach is crucial.

You can, of course, take the “penny-wise, pound-foolish” and morally irresponsible course of action: doing nothing to seek out and console those he may have injured. Or you can act responsibly and use your resources to beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing. We hope you will show courage and compassion and do what’s right.

David Clohessy
Executive Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790

Barbara Dorris
Outreach Coordinator, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
6245 Westminster
St. Louis MO 63130
314 503 0003


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