SNAP
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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

SNAP on new federal probe in LA

For immediate release: Thursday, January 29, 2009

Barbara Blaine's statement (Wed. nite)
Mary Grant's statement (Thurs. morning)
Joelle Casteix's statement (Thurs. afternoon)
Peter Isely's statement re "pitchforks" (Thurs. nite)
Other federal prosecutors' involvement in clergy sex cases

Barbara Blaine's statement

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, national president member of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747)

Even the launching of this probe is a vindication and validation for thousands of deeply wounded victims and betrayed Catholics. While dozens of pedophile priests have been criminally convicted, hundreds of complicit church officials have ignored or concealed known or suspected clergy sex crimes and experienced no consequences whatsoever. Morally, that's wrong. Practically, that's reckless.

More than 250 Los Angeles archdiocesan priests are proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesters. Most were repeatedly moved to unsuspecting parishes time and again despite suspicions and reports of their crimes. Some in the hierarchy must be held accountable for the devastation caused by this deceit and callousness.

If employers can enable child molesters and escape punishment, more employers will do just that. Justice must be done so that future wrong-doing is deterred and future sex crimes prevented.

Our biggest worry now is complacency. It's a long way from investigation to conviction, and it's crucial that anyone with information about clergy sex crimes and cover ups comes forward now. We especially appeal to church employees and members - current and former - to search their consciences and find the courage to call law enforcement and share what they know. Even information that may seem old or inconsequential might make a difference, so we beg every person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy misdeeds to contact police and prosecutors immediately.

Some have asked whether victims will be disappointed if church officials end up not facing charges. Our view is that while dashed hopes are sad, no hope at all is even sadder, and that's what thousands of clergy sex abuse victims have felt for decades.

(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 20 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)


Mary Grant's statement

Statement by Mary Grant of Long Beach, western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (626-419-2930)

We welcome this investigation. We know every victim will be glad to cooperate. We hope every single church employee and church member will cooperate. Hundreds of them, we believe, have information about clergy sex crimes and cover ups. It may be old or partial or even second hand. But it's information, and it should be given to prosecutors. We hope church workers and members - current and former - will come forward and cooperate.

We've heard Mahony's lawyer claim he will cooperate. We don't believe him.

Some ask "Will this succeed?"

We of course don't know. But we know it's worth the effort. Justice demands that there are consequences for those who help predators escape the law, get new positions and molest kids again.

Some ask whether Mahony himself is a target.

Again, we don't know. If he's not now, he may be later. And in one sense, it may not really matter.

Some church officials must be held responsible for the thousands of kids who've been raped, sodomized and molested by LA Catholic clergy. If this gaping wound is to be healed, and if kids are to protected, decades of recklessness and deceit and secrecy must be punished. Highly educated, powerful men in huge, wealthy institutions can't get by with ignoring and concealing felonies against kids.

Some ask about this apparently somewhat novel legal approach.

Frankly, it doesn't seem so innovative to us. It sounds like common sense. Mahony pretends that serial child predators are celibate spiritual guides, when he knows they aren't. So Catholics trust these priests. And these priests sexually assault kids. How can this NOT be considered fraud?

Let's talk about Mahony's response to this news. It's classic Mahony. He doesn't respond. He sends out his lawyer.

And his lawyer responds by attacking the source of the information.

We're not lawyers, but here's our view:

Is it possible someone broke the rules in disclosing this investigation? Sure.

Have Mahony and his staff concealed and enabled horrific child sex crimes? Absolutely.

Which of these offenses is worse? That goes without saying.

In the last few days, if someone in the Justice Dept. broke the rules, we suspect they'll face consequences. But for decades, Mahony has been callous and reckless and deceptive, enabling child predators to hurt innocent kids. So far, he's escaped consequences. That must change.

As we understand it, this is about fraud. It’s not about Mahony’s view of forgiveness. It’s not about whether he got perfect advice. It’s not about whether predators can be ‘healed.’ It’s about whether Mahony lied to his flock. We believe the evidence will show that he did.

Finally, Catholic officials claim they’ve ‘reformed.’ We haven't seen it. There's lots of policies and procedures and public relations. There's little real change in behavior. Church officials, here and elsewhere, still fight to keep clergy sex crimes concealed, victims silenced, and records hidden.

But even if someone believes that a tiger can change his stripes and a fox can safely watch the chicken coop, it’s crucial that men who deceptively and callously put kids in harms’ way, time and time again, here and elsewhere, must be held accountable.

(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 20 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:

Mary Grant of SNAP (626) 419-2930, David Clohessy of SNAP (314) 566-9790, Joelle Casteix of SNAP (949) 322-7434, Barbara Dorris of SNAP (314) 862-7688 home, (314) 503-0003 cell, Esther Miller of SNAP (562) 673-9442 bilingual/Spanish


Joelle Casteix' statement

Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP southwestern regional director (949 322 7434)

-- We're hopeful because federal laws differ from state laws. At the state level, a number of prosecutors have tried to prosecute bishops but have been hamstrung, in part, because of arbitrary, archaic, predator-friendly statutes of limitations. We hope that federal prosecutors will succeed where their local counterparts have largely failed.

-- This is another step in a long, slow trend in law enforcement to be more creative and determined in going after predators and those who protect predators. We welcome this and encourage this. The FBI estimates that fewer than 10% of all child molesters are ever prosecuted. That alone is proof that more aggressive and resourceful measures must be taken.

-- No event - a pedophile being jailed, a predator being defrocked, a bishop being charged - can magically restore the shattered trust and stolen childhoods of thousands of once trusting and now devastated Catholic kids and adults. So it's crucial that victims keep taking care of themselves, attending support group meetings, going to recovery programs, and realizing that we must heal one another regardless of what does or doesn't happen in the church or the courts.

-- It's silly for Mahony to claim he's mystified by this. He and his colleagues deceived four million Catholics about more than 250 predator priests, and those priests assaulted hundreds, if not thousands, of kids. That's what this is about.

And the deception continues. Just this week, we in SNAP learned about Fr. Loren Riebe. He faces several credible abuse reports. Church officials admit this. He's fled the country. He works for the church in Mexico. He was a Los Angeles area priest.

But Mahony and his staff have disclosed little or none of this to the parishioners and the public. To this day, Riebe benefits from the on-going secrecy of Mahony and his colleagues. How is this any different than what's gone on for decades in the church?


Cardinal calls victims 'mob'

Statement by Peter Isely of Milwaukee, SNAP Midwest Director (414 429 7259)

Mahony's public relations man today issued a statement claiming that "SNAP runs to every investigation and rumor with torches and pitchforks, shouting half truths and outright un-truths."

It's a shame that Mahony would rather attack victims than work with victims to bring forward the truth.

We wish the Cardinal would join us, instead of insulting us, in begging witnesses, whistleblowers and victims to speak up and help the investigation.

We suspect Mahony is upset by our impassioned plea to current and former church employees to search their consciences and share their knowledge of cover ups with the prosecutor.

It's ironic that when they feel vulnerable, church officials threaten to call the law promptly (re the alleged grand jury leak). Sadly, when hundreds of LA priests were molesting kids, church officials rarely called the law.

We again repeat our call to every current and former church staffer and member who knows anything about clergy sex crimes and cover ups: "Please, for the safety of kids, call police and prosecutors with anything you know about pedophile priests and their corrupt supervisors."

(for a copy of archdiocesan release: http://cityofangels5.blogspot.com/)

CONTACT: David Clohessy 314 566 9790, Mary Grant 626 419 2930, Joelle Casteix 949 322 7434


Other federal prosecutors' involvement in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases

An AP article on US Attorney Sullivan of Boston & his investigation of Bishop Murphy for falsifying a federal document:
http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/2005_11_18_Lavoie_ArchdioceseProsecutors.htm

Boston Globe reporter Michael Paulson's article on Murphy case describes it as the first deal between a diocese and federal prosecutor:
http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/2005_11_19_Paulson_ArchdioceseWill_William_Scanlan_2.htm

And from Western Massachusetts, here's a story re the US Attorney's secondary involvement with the Bishop Dupre investigation:
http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2004_01_06/2004_03_05_Barry_USAttorney.htm


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