The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statements

Statement Regarding Mediation
with Archdiocese of Milwaukee

For Immediate Release:
March 25, 2004

Peter Isely (414-429-7259) or Mary Guentner (414-418-3191)

Statement by the 70 Clergy Sexual Abuse Victims in Group Mediation with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Today we are asking Archbishop Dolan to trust the priests and leaders of the archdiocese with the names, locations and information concerning the dozens of known clergy sex offenders living in our community.

When the 70 victims of clergy sexual abuse from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee agreed to group mediation with Archbishop Dolan last December we were hopeful but very, very weary.

Would the archdiocese continue to use the unfair advantage given to them by the laws in the State of Wisconsin, which immunize clergy sexual predators and church leaders from the consequences of the horrific crimes committed against us? We are victims of priests and nuns who raped and sodomized and sexually abused us as children.

Unlike the rest of the nation, in Wisconsin we have never been given our day in court. That is all we have ever wanted. What every crime victim wants. Their day in court. We believe it should make no difference that the criminals who harmed us as children are ordained priests and the men who covered up for their crimes and allowed them to
hurt children again consecrated bishops. But in Wisconsin, it does make a difference.

In Wisconsin, sadly, it makes all the difference.

So, as group settlements with victims have been concluded around the nation here in Milwaukee -- an archdiocese with one of the worst histories of sexual abuse and cover-up -- there remains no settlement with victims and no resolution for the church.

Over the past two years we have worked hard to make sure that victims in the future will never have to be left without the protection and the rights that the law must give to every man, woman and child in our state. And so, this month, new legislation has been passed, thanks to the courage of victims like those in our group to come forward, tell our story, and press for needed reform. But these new laws will do nothing for those of us who have been already victimized. We desperately need of help and restitution today. We need counseling. We need financial help to get our lives in some kind of order. We need
our church to tell us the truth about what they knew of the criminal histories of those that harmed us.

But, we have repeatedly put our needs aside to put the safety of children first. When asked what we wanted out of mediation, one of our members said it simply and eloquently: “Whatever it takes so this does not happen again.”

One of the important changes in the new state law will require clergy to be mandatory reporters of child sexual abuse.

Our new proposal today to the Archbishop flows from this basic wisdom of the law that professionals responsible for the care of children must be given the tools they need to fulfill their duty.

That is why we 70 victims are proposing that the names, locations and other crucial information the Archbishop Dolan has concerning the dozens of known clergy sex offenders be released to all Roman Catholic pastors and priests, the trustees of every Catholic parish, the principals of every Catholic school, guidance counselors in those
schools and all other professionals charged with the safety of children. Most of these individuals are now mandatory reporters of child sexual abuse under state law. They have a right to this information and will act responsibly with it.

We know that some sexual predators will not cease in their efforts to have access to children. Clergy and former clergy identified as sex offenders by the church are now being discovered around the country working in schools, day camps, and other institutions.

If the bishops of Wisconsin, including Archbishop Dolan, do not trust the public or Catholic parents with the information they have concerning known clergy sex offenders, surely they will trust the priests and lay leaders of our church.



Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests