SNAP Sends Letters to Seven Bishops Regarding Dallas News Series
Tuesday, July 6, 2004
For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director (314) 566 9790 cell
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, President (312) 399 4747 cell
Mary Grant of Los Angeles, Southwest Regional SNAP Leader (626) 419 2930
Sex Abuse Victims Seek Help From Cardinal Egan
Group Wants Catholic Leader To Reach Out To Possible Victims
Father Enrique Vasquez Fled Criminal Accusations in Costa Rica in 1998
Father Enrique Vasquez transferred to New York Archdiocese between 1998 and 2002
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is asking Cardinal Edward Egan to help them search for men and women who may have been hurt by a priest who was briefly assigned to the Archdiocese of New York but who has since left America. The priest is one of over 200 child-molesting priests who have been transferred overseas according to a recent series in the Dallas Morning News reporting on its twelve month investigation.
SNAP is the nation's largest, oldest and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious authority figures. The group wants the cardinal to "do everything in your power to urge survivors to come forward and seek help, and report these priests' crimes to the law." They also want the cardinal to use the diocesan newspaper, church web sites, and parish bulletins to encourage witnesses to contact police too, so "these dangerous men can be apprehended and kids can be safeguarded."
A known child molester, Fr. Enrique Vasquez, recently profiled in the Dallas Morning News series, was assigned to the New York Archdiocese during his stay in the United States beginning in 1998. Vasquez spent time in South Carolina leading retreats for Hispanic catholics and also was assigned in Connecticut. While in the US he spent time at a church-operated treatment facility in New Mexico.
Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez (a possible successor to Pope John Paul II) moved Vasquez to various assignments around the world despite knowledge of the priest's criminal behavior.
Rodriguez put Vasquez to work in parishes until March 2004, when Vasquez fled the village of Guinope days ahead of police. Vasquez had fled criminal accusations in Costa Rica in 1998 before arriving in the US and fleeing again.
SNAP is asking Cardinal Egan to notify his flock through personal visits to parishes, notices in parish bulletins and ads in the diocesan paper that their children have been exposed to a dangerous pedophile. They are asking that the cardinal fulfill both his civil and Christian duty by actively seeking information about this molester and asking anyone who was harmed by Vasquez or has knowledge of his criminal activities to report it to police and prosecutors
Another cleric profiled in the Dallas Morning News series, Salesian Father Frank Klep, is already behind bars in Australia, after he was kicked out of Samoa for concealing his criminal child molestation conviction on his via application. Klep spent time in New York and New Jersey in the late 1980s.
"We know that child molesters rarely stop molesting," said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP's national director. "The odds are very high that some of these predator priests abused kids here. If so, those victims deserve and need to know there is help out there for them. And anyone with information about the crimes should be urged to call the law."
Clohessy said, "There is no reason why bishops can't use diocesan resources to urge those with any knowledge of these priests' crimes to come forward with information. It's what Christ would do - reach out to the lost sheep."
Leaders of SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), are writing bishops in California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia and South Carolina about known or suspected abusive priests recently identified as part of a year-long investigation by the Dallas Morning News.
Copies of the letters, which were sent Tuesday (7/6) morning by e mail to the seven US bishops, are available on the SNAP website: SNAPnetwork.org
Additional information about other known/suspected abusive priests who have been sent or moved overseas and were exposed in the DMN series include:
NAME: Fr. Nicolas Aguilar (also Augilar-Rivera)
HOME COUNTRY: Mexico
US DIOCESE WHERE HE LIVED/WORKED: Los Angeles (Cardinal Roger Mahony)
YEARS: 1987 ( May 7, 1988 charged with 19 counts of child molestation in Los Angeles County. The day after he was charged he fled to Mexico. In August 2003, Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, asked the help of Mexico’s President Vincente Fox in bringing to justice four criminals- (Aguilar was one of them).
STATUS NOW: Courts upheld his conviction, but decided he was too old to punish. Now serves mass in the Archdiocese of Puebla and the Diocese of Cuemavaca
NAME: Fr. Carlos Peralta
HOME COUNTRY: Peru
US DIOCESE WHERE HE LIVED/WORKED:
Chicago IL, VA, NJ
STATUS NOW: 1998 sent to Chicago, 1999 sent to treatment center in Virginia, then to Salesian residence in New Jersey, 2001 begins work in Mexico City. In 1999, a lawsuit is filed in Chicago alleging that Peralta molested four boys. He's worked in at least six countries. His supervisors in Peru claim they don't know where he is but DMN reporters recently found him in Mexico City across the street from a parish and a school run by nuns.
NAME: Fr. Enrique Vasquez
HOME COUNTRY: Costa Rica
US DIOCESE WHERE HE LIVED/WORKED: New York, Hartford, CT and Charleston, SC (spent time in treatment center in New Mexico)
STATUS NOW: Vasquez had fled criminal accusations in Costa Rica in 1998. Officials in both U.S. dioceses claim Vasquez had a letter from the Costa Rican diocese indicating he was in good standing. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez (a possible successor to Pope John Paul II) put Vasquez to work in parishes from last year until March 2004, when Vasquez fled the village of Guinope days ahead of police.
Vasquez had fled criminal accusations in Costa Rica in 1998 and served in dioceses in New York and Hartford, Conn., before fleeing again and spending time in a clergy treatment center in Mexico, the newspaper reported. Officials in both U.S. dioceses said Vasquez had a letter from the Costa Rican diocese indicating he was in good standing. The newspaper also reported that Vasquez was in South Carolina leading retreats in the Hispanic community between 1998 and 2002.
Once the Costa Rican prosecutor learned that Father Vasquez was gone, she didn't ask Interpol to follow his trail - which led to Casa Alberione, a clergy treatment center near Guadalajara, Mexico. Bishop San Casimiro acknowledges that the priest, in a phone call made while driving across America, revealed his destination.
In the case of one priest from Peru, his superiors have ignored a church panel's 1995 demand that he have no contact with children, as well as Chicago police's subsequent request to question him.
Convicted of child molestation as a priest in Australia. The Salesians sent him overseas, first to an order facility in Rome for a few months, then to the United States. He enrolled in late 1987 at Fordham University, a private Catholic school near the Salesians' offices in New York City, and pursued a master's degree. While studying, he also helped at Masses in the area, he said.
SNAP LETTER TO CARDINAL EGAN:
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
PO Box 6416
Chicago, IL 60680
July 6, 2004
His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan
Archdiocese of New York
1011 First Avenue
New York, NY 100022
Dear Cardinal Egan:
We are writing to you on behalf of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). SNAP is the nation's largest, oldest and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious authority figures (priests, ministers, bishops, deacons, nuns and others). We wish to bring to your attention a matter of serious concern and ask for your help.
The Dallas Morning News recently conducted a year-long investigation which found 200 cases of known and suspected abusive priests were sent to foreign countries. Half of those molesters were running from the law. One of those priests, Father Enrique Vasquez of Costa Rica, was transferred to the Archdiocese of New York between 1998-2002.
We need your help in notifying your flock that some of their children may have been exposed to a dangerous predator. We also need your help in urging anyone who experienced, suspected or witnessed abuse to contact law enforcement.
As you are aware, child molesters rarely stop abusing children. The odds are incredibly high that Father Vasquez sexually abused New York Metropolitan area youngsters. This means there are hurting and troubled survivors of Father Vasquez who need support and counseling.
We ask you to do everything in your power urge survivors to come forward, seek help and contact the police - appeals from the pulpit, personal visits to parishes where he spent time, announcements in parish bulletins and your diocesan newspaper. We believe it is imperative that you also notify the media of Father Vasquez's presence in New York in order to reach as many survivors as possible.
We at SNAP are more than willing to offer assistance in this outreach campaign. We believe it can perhaps spare other innocent and vulnerable children the horrific trauma that thousands of us experienced as youngsters. (We are happy to report that another of the abusive fugitive priests profiled in The Dallas Morning News, Salesian Fr. Frank Kelp, has already, thanks to considerable publicity and public pressure, been apprehended by authorities in Australia.)
Cardinal Egan, now is the time to do the right thing. New York Catholics deserves complete disclosure and information related to Father Vasquez's activities in your archdiocese. Survivors need to know they are not alone. We urge you to do your civic and moral duty, and be diligent and aggressive spreading the word about Vasquez and his crimes.
We look forward to your prompt response.
National Director, SNAP
314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915
312 399 4747 cell
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.