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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

New child sex abuse & cover-up lawsuit is filed

It’s against alleged predator priest & Catholic officials

Diocese admits that the cleric was credibly accused years ago

Crimes began in 2004 when child was in the confessional

Group begs victims, witnesses & whistleblowers to “come forward, call cops”

WHAT:
At a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will discuss a new civil child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit that accuses a long-time Monterey priest of child sex crimes. The suit says diocesan officials knew that the priest :
-- was a risk to kids,
-- had been credibly accused in the past,
-- had abused at least one boy as late as 2004, and
-- officials conspired to conceal the crimes.

The victims will urge Monterey Bishop Richard J. Garcia to:
-- publicly name all abusers who work or have worked in the diocese,
-- release all secret records on Fitz-Henry and other predator priests (including one about to stand trial for molestation), and
-- personally visit each parish where predators have worked and urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered abuse to call law enforcement, not church officials.

WHEN:
Wednesday, February 16 at 1 pm

WHERE:
Outside the Monterey diocese headquarters, 485 Church Street (at Figueroa) in Monterey CA

WHO:
2-3 members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), the nation's largest and oldest support group for men and women sexually abused in religious organizations

WHY:
A lawsuit filed late Tuesday in Monterey County Superior Court accuses Father Edward Fitz-Henry of sexually abusing a then-14-year-old student and altar server at Madonna Del Sasso Catholic Parish in 2004. When the boy told Fitz-Henry that he wanted to become a priest, Fitz-Henry solicited him in the confessional and began sexually abusing him. The victim is now 21 and has filed a report with the Salinas Police Department.

According to news reports, another victim came forward to the Diocese of Monterey and said that Fitz-Henry molested him/her 20 years ago (also at Madonna Del Sasso). The diocese admitted that the accusation is credible, and removed Fitz-Henry from his current assignment at San Juan Bautista Mission. http://www.kionrightnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=14030324.

SNAP contends that by keeping Fitz-Henry in ministry after he’d been credibly accused of child sex crimes, that Monterey’s bishop violated the 2002 US Conference of Catholic Bishops' “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which requires zero tolerance for abuse. Had the bishop promptly removed Fitz-Henry, SNAP says, the current victim would not have been abused. http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/weblogs/news-blog/2011/feb/14/dirty-deeds-intimated-mission-priest-investigated/

Another Monterey diocesan priest, Fr. Antonio Cortes of St. Mary of the Nativity Church, faces a child molestation trial in April. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2011/01_02/2011_01_06_Vijayan_JuryTrial.htm

The victim in the new suit lives in California. He is filing as John Doe and is represented by attorney Vince Finaldi of Manly and Stewart in Newport Beach (949) 683-8373, VFinaldi@manlystewart.com.

Copies of the lawsuit will be available at the event. The victim will NOT be there.

CONTACT:
Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP Western Regional Director, (949) 322-7434
Barb Dorris of St. Louis, MO, SNAP Outreach Director, (314) 503-0003


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