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SNAP
Statement



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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Teen mental health counselor faces another child sex lawsuit; sex abuse victims respond

Teen mental health counselor faces another child sex lawsuit

He’s an ex-priest being sued for molesting teen in New Mexico

A new civil child molestation lawsuit has been filed against a former Catholic priest who now counsels teens and young adults in Lafayette. It’s the second such suit against the same man in the last 15 months.

Like the first lawsuit, it was filed in Navajo Nation District Court in Shiprock, New Mexico. The suit says that around 1980, when he was 15, a boy was “groomed, manipulated and sexually molested” by Fr. Charles (“Chuck”) Cichanowicz. The crimes took place at a hotel in Gallup, NM and on the Navajo Nation Reservation in St. Michaels, Arizona where the boy lived.

Cichanowicz is now a teen mental health counselor and addiction specialist at the Alpine Clinic in Lafayette, IN (AlpineClinic.com).

Leaders of a support group called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org) have blasted clinic officials for refusing to suspend Cicanowicz or launching an investigation into the charges.

“I can’t imagine anything more callous and reckless than letting a twice-accused child molester be around troubled kids,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP national director “How will clinic staff live with themselves if they learn that this predator has hurt an already wounded or confused youngster who came to the clinic seeking help?”

SNAP has also

-- prodded New Mexico Catholic officials to release information regarding Cichanowicz and

-- urged anyone who saw, suspected, or suffered clergy sexual abuse to come forward, get help, and call to law enforcement.

“It’s frightening that a predator would move from one group of vulnerable kids – Native Americans in an isolated setting – to another – kids with chemical additions and other problems,” said Clohessy. “We suspect Cichanowicz may have hurt kids in Indiana and, if so, we hope they’ll come forward, get help, and call the police.”

In 2007, SNAP leaders, along with victims’ attorneys, held news conferences outside the headquarters of the Gallup Diocese and Santa Fe Archdiocese in Albuquerque. (While in Shiprock, Cichanowicz was employed by the Gallup Diocese.) Both are defendants in the lawsuits, along with a religious order called the Cincinnati-based Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist, which included, for a time, Cichanowicz’s direct supervisors.

According to earlier news accounts, the Alpine Clinic’s medical director, Dr. Nizar El-Khalili, says he has heard no complaints about Cichanowicz.

Attorneys for the victims are Patrick Noaker of St. Paul, MN (612 961-1307 cell) and William R. Keeler of Gallup, NM (505-722-5608).

The latest victim, who filed using a pseudonym, still lives in Arizona.

Contact:

David Clohessy of St. Louis MO, SNAP National Director (314) 566-9790

Barbara Dorris of St. Louis MO, SNAP Outreach Director (314) 503 0003


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


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