The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, October 19, 2009
Victims worry about new Cheyenne Catholic bishop
Statement by Barbara Dorris, SNAP National Outreach Director 314 862 7688
Because of Indiana's archaic, predator-friendly child sex abuse laws, the public has learned little of how Fr. Paul Etienne has dealt with or might deal with child molestation and cover up cases. But there's no reason to assume he'll be any better at protecting kids or healing victims than his predecessor. It's best to err on the side of caution, not complacency.
Etienne does come from an archdiocese with a particularly secretive and callous track record on abuse cases, exploiting every possible technical legal defense, no matter how far-fetched or mean-spirited. We've seen no evidence that he ever spoke up about or objected to such hardball tactics, and we're troubled by this.
Among his first acts in office, we hope that Etienne will insist that the children's home will re-name the wing that honors retired Bishop Joseph Hart, who has been credibly accused of molesting kids and against whom several child sex abuse lawsuits have settled.
Liberal or conservative, outspoken or quiet, almost all US bishops still tend to do the absolute bare minimum when it comes to child sex cases, opting to safeguard their own reputations from public damage instead of safeguarding their flocks from real harm.
We urge Catholics, citizens and especially abuse victims, to not be complacent about child safety efforts or victim outreach efforts. It’s still crucial that anyone with information about clergy sex crimes and cover ups contact independent sources first - police, prosecutors, therapists, support groups - before contacting church staff. No matter who is bishop, child sex crimes should be reported to and investigated by the independent professionals in law enforcement, not the biased amateurs in the church hierarchy.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests