Survivors Network of
those Abused by Priests
Friday, June 27, 2003
Abuse Victims Seek New California Laws and More Vigorous Prosecution
SNAP Urges DAs to Release Names of Suspects Not Criminally Charged
and Asks Legislators to Toughen Existing Laws
(Statement by Joelle Casteix
of Corona Del Mar, CA, who was sexually abused in the Diocese of
"First a few words of thanks are in order.
at Friday's SNAP news conference in Los Angeles.
(AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
to all the lawmakers who voted for the 1994 criminal law. Thanks
to the governor who
signed it. Thanks to the police and prosecutors who used it to keep
our children safe, if only temporarily. Because of the collective
efforts of these public officials, some 800 predators were taken
off the streets, if only temporarily. Every parent in California
should be grateful for this.
But now, because of the decision of the US Supreme Court, every
parent in California should be worried.
And now, for our public officials, it's back to the drawing board.
was a bleak day for everyone who wants to keep children safe. It
was the beginning of what can be best described as a public safety
crisis in California. Hundreds of dangerous men who committed heinous
and disgusting crimes against children will now go free. Hundreds
more will now never be exposed or jailed. Hundreds of people who
covered-up these crimes will go unpunished. Hundreds of victims
and their families are worried. And thousands of kids are now at
Today, despite yesterday's Supreme Court ruling, we in SNAP, the
Survivors Network, are urging political leaders and prosecutors
to keep pursuing child molesters by
reforming existing laws,
- passing news laws, including an expanded statute of limitations
to protect every child well into adulthood, and
- more aggressively using
We call upon Governor Gray Davis to lead the charge.
As men and women who were molested by clergy and agents of the church,
we in SNAP have one overriding concern. We want to do everything
we can to safeguard children. So we are calling for increased efforts
from three groups.
First, we want legislators to enact new laws and strengthen existing
laws so that abusers and those who shelter them can be prosecuted,
and kids can be protected.
How can this be done?
- Perhaps these dangerous men can be required to register
as sex offenders, even though their sentences
are cut short or their prosecution is thwarted.
- Maybe the penalties for failure to report suspected
abuse can be increased.
- Maybe California's statute on vicarious liability can be strengthened,
so that those who supervise people who work with children can be
more clearly held accountable for the misbehavior of their employees.
- Maybe the state can enact laws that revoke the tax-exempt
status of any group the harbors, protects and hides molesters
- Maybe other states have more effective laws on child endangerment
that can be used, as was done in New Hampshire, to hold employers
and supervisors responsible for crimes committed against kids on their watch.
Abuse victims across the country have always looked to California
as a pioneer in laws designed to safeguard kids. We call on state
legislators work harder and smarter, and pass new laws and toughen
existing laws so that abusers can be jailed, parents can be reassured
and children can be safe.
Second, we want prosecutors to keep pursuing child molesters by
more aggressively using current laws and by publicly naming suspects
who were about to be charged under the 1994 law overturned yesterday
by the Supreme Court.
One brave prosecutor has already done this. Because of the archaic
and dangerous statue of limitations, Bristol County (MA) District
Attorney Paul Walsh, Jr. was able to charge only a handful of the
21 alleged abusive priests in his county. ''We're prohibited from
an effective prosecution and the priests are prohibited from an
effective exoneration. That's the injustice for the victims and
the guys on the (suspected abusers) list,'' he told the Boston Globe
(9.27.02). So Walsh publicly named the other perpetrators he would
have criminally charged if he had been able.
SNAP is asking California prosecutors to do the same.
We in SNAP also want prosecutors to more aggressively use existing
laws, such as:
- Aiding and abetting
- Failure to report
- Child porn,
- Child endangerment
to go after abusers.
It's important to remember that notorious gangster Al Capone was
charged with income tax evasion, and we want to see police and DAs
work even more creatively to arrest and charge molesters. There
are many ways to make sure the perpetrators are punished.
Third, and finally, we want abuse victims to keep coming forward.
for the sake of vulnerable children, we implore and trust that police,
prosecutor and political leaders will come up with ways to charge
If you do come forward, you may or may not get justice. You will,
however, begin to heal.
For more information:
Mary Grant, Los Angeles (626) 419 2930 cell, (562) 433 3249 home
Joelle Casteix, Orange County (949) 322 7434 cell, (949) 644-7287
David Clohessy, St. Louis, National Director (314) 566 9790 cell
Terrie Light, San Francisco, Board Member (510) 517 3338
Mark Serrano, Leesburg VA, Board Member (703) 771 9606
Barbara Blaine, Chicago, President (312) 399 4747 cell
District Attorney Paul Walsh, Boston, (508) 997-0711
of those Abused by Priests