Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Monday, March 30, 2009

Child molesting bishop dies; Sex abuse victims respond

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)

Paulk will be remembered for his abuse of innocent kids, exploitation of vulnerable adults, and his unseemly and mean-spirited legal maneuvers designed to mislead his flock and protect his secrets. His 'ministry' will be forever clouded and tarnished by his self-serving and repeated abuses of power.

We know his passing makes Atlanta a safer place. We hope his passing brings some comfort to his victims. And we hope that others who saw, suspected or suffered Paulk's crimes and misdeeds will step forward, get help and start healing.

(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 7,000 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

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688), Mary Grant (626-419-2930), Mark Serrano (703-727-4940)

Bishop dogged by abuse allegations dies

Bishop Earl Paulk died near midnight Saturday at the Atlanta Medical Center

Paulk was accused several times of molesting various church members

Paulk was battling cancer, according to a blog posting by his nephew

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Bishop Earl Paulk, a charismatic preacher brought down by a series of sex scandals, has died. He was 81.

Bishop Earl Paulk died this weekend at 81.

Paulk died near midnight Saturday at the Atlanta Medical Center, a nursing supervisor confirmed to CNN. The bishop had been at the hospital for several days, she said.

Paulk's death came after an "extended and horrible battle with cancer," Paulk's nephew, Bishop Jim Swilley, wrote in a blog post.

Paulk founded the Chapel Hill Harvester Church in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta. It quickly grew to become one of the first megachurches in the country. Paulk also had his own television show.

But his success as a preacher was overshadowed time and again by allegations of sexual impropriety.

One allegation ended in a civil suit that was settled out of court in 2003. The accuser said Paulk molested her when she was a child.

A second woman claimed the bishop forced her into a 14-year affair. She filed, withdrew and refiled a suit.

Dennis Brewer, an attorney for Paulk, admitted to the Atlanta Journal-Constitutio n that Paulk had a brief adulterous relationship with the woman, but said she was the initiator.

During a deposition in the case, the bishop said under oath the woman was the only one he slept with outside of marriage. But a court-ordered paternity test showed that he also fathered a child with his sister-in-law.

Other allegations -- some true, some unfounded -- cost the church membership, as worshippers dwindled from 10,000 to about 1,000.

"As most of you know, my family has been walking through a very long nightmare season in connection with things concerning him," Swilley wrote in his blog post. "Please pray for some much needed healing and closure for us all."

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests