The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Ex-Columbus priest guilty of abuse; 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're grateful that it's now clear that Fr. Cote is a child molester, though we're upset that he likely won't be locked up. That's the only sure way to safeguard kids from predators.
We believe there are others in Ohio who were hurt by Cote who are still suffering in shame, silence and self-blame. This court decision, we hope, will inspire them to break their silence and get professional help.
We hope that this ruling brings some measure of comfort to Brandon and other brave but wounded victims who found the strength to come forward, report crimes, protect others, and warn citizens. They are true heroes for taking risks and preventing abuse. Because of their courage, vulnerable youngsters have been spared devastating pain.
Let's hope that someday Catholic officials - in Ohio, Maryland, Rhode Island, and New York - will have to explain, and face consequences, for their callousness, recklessness and deceit in moving a credibly accused predator priest to unsuspecting parishes with no warning.
(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 21 years 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), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688)
Ex-Columbus priest guilty of abuse
Probation expected in Maryland case
Tuesday, July 14, 2009 10:30 PM - By Meredith Heagney - THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
A Catholic priest who worked at a parish in Columbus and two in Somerset is expected to be sentenced to 10 years of probation after being convicted of sexually abusing a child in Maryland.
The Rev. Aaron Joseph "AJ" Cote, 57, entered a plea of "not guilty, agreed statement of facts" Monday in Montgomery County Circuit Court. That means he did not admit guilt but does not contest the state's presentation of the facts, said Emily White, a spokeswoman for the Office of the State's Attorney for Montgomery County.
Cote will be sentenced Oct.14, White said, but his attorneys and the prosecution have agreed to a deal that gives him five years of supervised probation and five years of unsupervised probation. She couldn't say yesterday exactly how he would be supervised.
He is considered a convicted felon and will be on Maryland's sex-offender registry for the rest of his life, White said. He also will undergo a sex-offender evaluation and possibly treatment.
Cote was accused of sexually abusing Brandon Rains, now 22, when he was 14 and attending the Germantown, Md., church where Cote served as youth minister.
The Dispatch does not generally publish the names of sexual-abuse victims, but Rains has chosen to speak publicly about Cote.
His stepfather, Joe McMorrow, said yesterday that it's hard to accept Cote will not be imprisoned, but said the family is happy he will be accountable for the abuse.
"I feel it's vindication for Brandon," McMorrow said from his home in Florida. He said Rains is doing well in young adulthood.
Because of Cote's registration as a sex offender, "children are safer," McMorrow added.
Rains won a $1.2million settlement against Cote's Dominican order in 2007.
Cote worked at St. Patrick Church in Columbus and St. Joseph and Holy Trinity in Somerset in Perry County from 1986 to 1989.
The Columbus diocese has asked for anyone with accusations against Cote to come forward, but no one has, said Deacon Tom Berg Jr., vice chancellor.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests