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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Friday, September 18, 2009

Ex Fairfield University chaplain molested kids; Clergy sex 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)

Regarding the Doug Perlitz' situation, we are disturbed by the response of Fairfield University authorities to accusations that a former school chaplain molested kids in Haiti. School officials should be begging anyone with information about the allegations to do their civic and moral duty and contact law enforcement. Instead, they seem more preoccupied with distancing themselves from the accused criminal.

(According to one news account "Fairfield University said that it had no role in the project's oversight or management adding, 'several Fairfield University employees have independently supported Project Pierre Toussaint but no organization at Fairfield University is related to Project Pierre Toussaint.'" http://www.wfsb.com/news/20974078/detail.html)

Because child sex crimes are so devastating and a criminal probe is happening, school and church officials should be aggressively trying to protect kids, not their own images and reputations.

We are also highly skeptical about the claim by a university vice president that "We had no prior knowledge" of the allegations. (http://www.connpost.com/breakingnews/ci_13358895)

(One news account says that Haitian media reported the allegations last year. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2009/07_08/2009_07_18_JosephJr_CharityAt.htm)

We say this, in part, because of the school's reckless, callous, and secretive response to recent disclosures involving a credibly accused child molesting cleric who headed the university's prep school from 1983-85.

Last year, we discovered and exposed Msgr. Eugene J. O'Brien, a Jesuit priest, as an accused molester. In 1997, church officials quietly paid $25,000 to a New York man who was sexually victimized as a child by O'Brien. The secret settlement included a ‘gag order’ forcing the victim to say nothing about O'Brien's crimes. At the time, Jesuit, diocesan, and Fairfield prep and university authorities told no one about the credible allegation. O'Brien was moved to Fordham University in New York.

For more than a decade, church and university officials have let O’Brien live among Catholic college and high school students there, and present himself as a priest around the world, without warning parents, students, staff or the public about the accusations or the settlement. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news5/2008_10_21_Vitello_JesuitSchool.htm

Six months ago, we hand delivered a letter to Fairfield's president, urging him to publicly admit that a child sex abuse allegation against O'Brien was made, and a settlement was paid. We begged him to use the school's considerable resources to seek out and offer help to anyone else O'Brien may have hurt. We prodded him to urge anyone who saw or suspected O'Brien's crimes to call police. Thus far, we've seen no evidence whatsoever that any such steps have been taken.

At least two other pedophile priests have worked at Fairfield College Prep: Fr. Edmund Power and Fr. James Pratt. (According to one newspaper account, "Power was a Prep chaplain and teacher from 1962 to 1965 and again from 1968 to 1976. Pratt was a Jesuit seminarian when he taught at the school from 1981 to 1983.") http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/2003_03_21_Reilly_2ExPrep_Edmund_Power_1.htm

Much like Fairfield University is trying to distance itself from Perlitz, we suspect Bridgeport Bishop William Lori will try to distance himself from the school and Perlitz. But in most instances, ties between Catholic schools and the diocese's in which they operate are very close. (In 2006, for example, we in SNAP discovered and exposed that another Catholic university president was quietly letting a defrocked, credibly accused Bridgeport Diocese predator priest live in his New York home. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/2006_04_20_Tepfer_DefrockedPriest.htm)

Lori, it should be noted, personally visited Perlitz in Haiti. And one of Perlitz' board members is Philip Lacovara, a lawyer representing the Diocese of Bridgeport.

To help protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded, we call on the Bridgeport diocese, the Jesuits, Fairfield University, and Fairfield University Prep to call off their 'spin doctors' and publicize any other settlements or credible allegations against O'Brien, Pratt, Power, Perlitz or others who work or work at these institutions. Church and school officials should disclose where these and any other proven, admitted and credibly accused predators are living, alert their neighbors, and work hard to find and help their victims.

(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)


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