The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
Judge grants possibility of punitive damages; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell)
We applaud this ruling because even the possibility of punitive damages helps stop future sex crimes and deter recklessness and secrecy by decision-makers.
When an employer hires, shields, transfers or protects a serial child molester, that employer must face consequences. Otherwise, other employers will take similar dangerous chances and make similar callous moves in the future. Enabling corrupt supervisors to dodge legal responsibility is, in fact, irresponsible. Holding corrupt supervisors accountable isn't vengeance, it's common sense and simple justice.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 17 years and have more than 8,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688), Mary Grant (626-419-2930), Mark Serrano (703-727-4940)
May 9, 2008
The judge in the Burlington clergy sexual abuse trial involving claims the Rev. Edward Paquette repeatedly fondled an altar boy in the 1970s said the victim can seek punitive damages against the state’s Roman Catholic diocese for negligent supervision of the priest.
“Plaintiff here has presented evidence that this errant priest had an almost 10-year history of molesting young boys, in his role as priest,” Judge Matthew Katz wrote in an order issued late Thursday. “This diocese had notice of that problem.”
Katz acknowledged in his ruling that the diocese has yet to put on its case but said the evidence that the diocese knew about Paquette’s past history as a child sexual abuser and did not appear to have supervised him accordingly.
“The evidence of actual supervision is actually noteworthy for its total absence,” Katz wrote.
The ruling is significant because large-money figures are often involved when a jury is allowed to award punitive damages.
The case is in its fifth day. Friday morning, the alleged victim’s wife and five former altar boys testified on behalf of the plaintiff in the case, a 40 year-old man now living in Colorado.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests