The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, April 16, 2009
Ex-Kansas City Catholic bishop accused of sex abuse
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're saddened to see that a second former Kansas City Catholic bishop is accused of child molestation. (They are Bishop Joseph Hart and now Bishop Joseph Sullivan.) We're equally sad to see the church hierarchy continuing to fight in court for secrecy and against victims.
We're grateful to the individuals who have found the strength to take legal action against this predatory cleric and other church officials who further betrayed them. We are especially grateful to Mr. Hymel who is trying to use the time-tested American justice system to shine a light on deeply held church secrets and expose the corruption of Catholic figures who shield child molesters.
Opening church records on child molesting clergymen is crucial if kids are to be kept safe, if wounded victims are to be healed and if this on-going crisis is to be fully understood. This judge should follow the brave example of dozens of other judges across the country, and rule on the side of truth and openness, not secrecy and deceit. Catholics, citizens, and children deserve no less.
We hope the courage of these individuals will inspire others who have been assaulted by church employees - lay or ordained, alive or dead, current or former - to come forward, call police, and get help.
(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 since 1988 and have more than 9,000 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), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688)
Judge: Dioceses must turn over records in abuse lawsuit
Man says he was victimized at minor seminary
By Denise Malan (Contact) April 16, 2009
CORPUS CHRISTI — A judge ordered two Catholic dioceses to turn over records in a civil lawsuit alleging that a Baton Rouge bishop sexually abused a boy in Corpus Christi almost 30 years ago.
In the suit, a Houston man alleges that Bishop Joseph Vincent Sullivan abused him from 1978 to 1982, nearly two years of which he spent in the Corpus Christi Minor Seminary. The man, now 42, was a teenage student in the Baton Rouge minor seminary and transferred to Corpus Christi after schools closed in Baton Rouge and Lumberton.
Sullivan remained bishop in Baton Rouge but would visit the boy at the Corpus Christi Minor Seminary, a high school for boys aspiring to the priesthood. Sullivan died in 1982.
The suit, filed in Nueces County, alleges the dioceses of Baton Rouge and Corpus Christi failed to protect the boy. The Diocese of Corpus Christi argues in court documents that it did not know Sullivan would subject anyone to harm.
The church says it already has turned over all pertinent records, but plaintiffs attorney Mynor Rodriguez said the church has only given him yearbooks and other records readily available from his client.
The accusers attorneys are seeking data the dioceses of Baton Rouge and Corpus Christi turned over to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice as part of a nationwide study in 2003 of abuse in the Catholic church. The study found that 96 percent of participating dioceses had received allegations of sexual abuse against priests by children younger than 18.
This data they have is going to show what they knew and when they knew it, Rodriguez said.
District Judge Jose Longoria limited the request to documents only about the accuser and Sullivan after attorney Gary E. Ramirez of Corpus Christi, representing both dioceses, argued the request was overly broad.
They want this court to allow them to put the Catholic church on trial, Ramirez argued.
Rodriguez said he was not looking for new victims and said the data will show the church knew about the abuse but did not take necessary action. Showing fraudulent concealment would be necessary to overcome the statute of limitations, which ended two years after the accuser turned 18.
The man did not remember the abuse until within two years of the filing of the lawsuit in 2007, according to court documents. Attorney Johnny Garza said memories resurfaced in therapy the man underwent after his second marriage collapsed.
A statement Wednesday from the Diocese of Corpus Christi said the church takes all allegations of abuse seriously and stressed that this incident did not involve any employees or priests of the local diocese.
We pray for the well-being and fair treatment of all parties concerned, the statement reads. Since litigation is ongoing, any further comment is not advisable.
The Diocese of Baton Rouge settled a lawsuit involving Sullivan and a victim with repressed memories in 2004 and renamed a local Catholic high school that had been named for him. It argues the Nueces County court has no jurisdiction over it in the Corpus Christi case.
The local case is set for trial in October.
Contact Denise Malan at 886-4334 at email@example.com
Former Student Sues Diocese, Claims Molestation
Updated: April 15, 2009 07:42 PM CDT
CORPUS CHRISTI - A former student at the School for Prospective Catholic Priests is suing the Diocese of Corpus Christi, claiming he was molested by a visiting bishop.
He says the abuse happened between 1978 and 1982 and the Diocese is partly responsible.
Attorneys for Glenn Hymel say he was honored to be selected for the local seminary school as a teenager.
Hymel is now 42 years old and claims it was only recently that he realized he had been abused, and that he had buried the memories until something recently made them resurface.
His attorneys say Hymel has had two failed marriages and he claims the abuse he suffered as a teenager is to blame for it.
Bishop Joseph Sullivan was with the Diocese of Baton Rouge before he died in 1982, but he frequently made trips to the local school.
The Seminary on Saratoga later closed and eventually became the current John Paul High School.
Hymel claims the abuse happened at the former school, as well as on trips that he took with Bishop Sullivan.
In court Wednesday, Hymel's attorneys were granted some of the records used in a nationwide clergy abuse investigation that came out in 2003.
They believe those records could contain details that would prove Hymel's claims.
"In that study, they gave a lot of information concerning sexual abuse in their midst. And we're seeking that information, because it goes to show what they knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it," Mynor Rodriguez said.
The Diocese of Corpus Christi has previously acknowledged that 13 victims have come forward with claims of sexual abuse involving eight local priests, and the settlements they received cost the Diocese about $1.3 million.
A spokesperson for the Diocese couldn't comment on the new claims by Hymel, but he did say that none of the church leaders or possible victims in the case are still in the area.
LIST OF OTHER BISHOPS WHO ARE ACCUSED OF HAVING MOLESTED KIDS
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests