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SNAP
Statement



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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

 

Monday, December 3, 2007

SNAP responds to settlement in Davenport

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP outreach director 314 503 0003 cell 

This settlement is a real achievement for the dozens of brave, wounded men and women who are showing courage, exposing predators, and protecting kids. We applaud them for being strong, wise, and compassionate enough to come forward, report horrific crimes, take legal action, endure diocesan delays and ultimately win some measure of justice, closure and healing. We especially admire and appreciate these victims for advocating and winning significant reforms that will help heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable in the future.

All Iowa Catholics should be grateful to these victims because, without them, dangerous child-molesting clergy would still be in parishes and other positions around kids. Had they not spoken up, at considerable personal risk, and alerted citizens about these predators, surely more kids would have been hurt and might even be being molested now.

When a bishop starts to threaten seeking bankruptcy protection, we often make a series of simple requests. First, we ask that he fully disclose his diocesan insurance, property, assets & cash. Then we asked that he move slowly before opting for bankruptcy protection and consult with parishioners. Then we ask that he give us ‘equal time’ to present our side to parishioners. Then we ask that he let just one victim have his or her day in court.

Not one of the five bishops who rushed to Chapter 11 took even one of these steps. So it's clear to us that when bishops claim they’re protecting church assets, they're lying. They’re really protecting themselves and their corrupt, complicit colleagues.

If money was indeed, the issue, Davenport's bishop had many options he never pursued.
He could have revealed his diocese’s wealth, to show he’s poor. He didn’t.
He could have sought a bank loan, if need be (like Orange County). He didn’t.
He could have sought a loan from church sources (like Boston). He didn’t.
He could have asked his flock to donate toward healing. He didn’t.
He could have asked for a gradual payment of any settlement. He didn’t.
He could have settled the insured cases. He didn’t.
He could have sued the recalcitrant insurers. He didn’t.

Instead, he took the self-serving, coward’s way out.
Instead of disclosing the truth, he’s hiding it.
Instead of fostering healing, he’s delaying it.
Instead of moving his diocese forward, he’s holding it back.

Why? So he avoids the hot seat. So he can keep hiding behind his PR team. So he can stay safe in his office. So he’ll never have to disclose, in open court and under oath – how much he and his colleagues and his predecessors KNEW and how little they DID about pedophile priests, nuns, seminarians, and other church employees.

Davenport Catholic officials were clearly hell-bent from Day 1 to avoid taking the oath, facing the questions, and disclosing the secrets.

So we have two messages today:

First, to our brothers and sisters in pain and recovery, the hundreds of Iowa men and women who have suffered and are suffering because of abusive priests and complicit supervisors and c-workers - be proud of what you’ve achieved and are achieving. You are getting better. You and are exposing predators. You are making this church and this community a healthier, safer place. Know that your courage, your persistence and your achievement are inspiring to victims across the country.

Please stay in recovery programs, support groups and therapy. This settlement will provide some relief for your pain, both temporarily and in the long term. But it is no cure-all. Please continue to take care of yourselves.You are getting better, doing what’s right, and helping others in the process.

Second, to Bishop Amos. . .

You and your colleagues claim your bankruptcy filing isn’t a ‘cop out.’ Yet your predecessor basically consulted with only a handful of the flock before launching this long, arduous, costly legal struggle. The least you can do now is to get out from behind your desk, show your face, and meet with directly with your parishioners in the weeks ahead. We challenge you to hold open question and answer sessions, with us, in every deanery in this diocese.

What happens now? Through well-crafted words and carefully-honed PR moves, Amos will issue platitudes about wanting all victims to be treated equally, about a "new day dawning in the diocese," while likely continuing to keep secrets and play legal hardball behind closed doors in courtrooms.and church offices.

He’s spent literally tens, perhaps thousands of dollars of hard-earned and generously-given donations from decent Catholics on high-priced lawyers who will protect him and his secrets. And this whole process has drug on needessly, postponing healing, disclosure, openness, and protection. Yet Amos will talk of the 'compassion' of the diocese, minimizing or ignoring the fact that each measure of truth-telling, disclosure, and resolution that has been achieved has been initiated by victims and opposed by church officials.

But no amount of 'spin' by the bishop's PR professionals can obscure the fact that brave victims dragged recalcitrant, complicit church officials, kicking and screaming, to justice. And the most important result is that kids are now safer.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org),a support group

CONTACT:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP national director 314 566 9790
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP president and founder 312 399 4747
Mary Grant of Long Beach, SNAP western regional director 626 419 2930
Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP southwest regional director 949 322 7434 cel
l

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, December 3, 2007

Clergy sex abuse victims settle bankruptcy case against Davenport Catholic Diocese

The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors reached an agreement with the Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport last Thursday, November 29th. The agreement calls for the Diocese and their insurance carriers to fund a reorganization plan with approximately $37 million, primarily for the benefit of victims of sexual abuse suffered at the hands of clergy and other diocesan personnel. The Committee represents the 156 people who have come forward as claimants in the bankruptcy case of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa.

The Committee recognizes that no amount of money would ever be adequate in providing a vehicle to compensate the claimants for their lifetime of pain, anguish, guilt and suffering. As most of the survivors have stated repeatedly, “This was never about the money. This was and still is about justice, prevention and accountability.”

In trying to attain some form of justice for this group of survivors and for those who may come forward in the future the Committee negotiated with the Diocese for a number of non-monetary reforms in the agreement. Among these provisions is one requiring mental health counseling for all currently known and future survivors. The Diocese will provide the opportunity for survivors to address the parish in which their abuse occurred as well as publishing their stories in the Catholic Messenger. The diocese will also publish the names of all known abusers in the continuing effort to reach those survivors of clergy abuse who may still wish to come forward for counseling as a step in their healing process. This step will also help prevent future abuse by these predators. To respect the wishes of privacy some victims have expressed, Bishop Amos has agreed to write a personal letter of

apology to any victim who wishes one, as well as any family members. The full list of the negotiated non-monetary items will be available in the Plan of Reorganization, which will be filed in the very near future.

The Committee wishes to thank Craig Levien of the law firm Betty, Neuman and McMahon and Pat Noaker of the law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates for their untiring efforts to help bring these issues to the public’s attention and to assist in the negotiations with the Diocese. The Committee also wishes to express its gratitude to the attorneys of the bankruptcy law firm of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones, in particularly Jim Stang, Hamid Rafatjoo and Gillian Brown, for their expert guidance through the bankruptcy process. Without the participation of any one of these fine people we are confident that the outcome would not have been as favorable toward the victims.

Most of all, the Committee members thank the men and women who have come forward to reveal the truth about childhood sexual abuse in the Diocese of Davenport. They have demonstrated true courage in their effort to prevent another child from suffering the abuse that they have lived with for so many years.

Attorneys:
Pat Noaker (612) 961-1307
Craig Levien (563) 327-2512
Hamid Rafatjoo (310) 871-7589


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


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