The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Police, church, province failed to protect children in Cornwall according to inquiry; sex abuse victims respond
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home)
This inquiry proves three key facts.
First, tremendous good can happen when even one child sex abuse survivor finds the courage and strength to report the horrific crimes perpetrated against him or her. (Remember: this entire inquiry was launched because of one brave clergy sex abuse victim who spoke up.) When victims, witnesses and whistleblowers step forward, there's at least a chance for healing, justice and prevention.
Second, tremendous good can happen when even one official refuses to be intimidated and puts the safety of kids first. (Remember: one police officer played a key role in exposing this recklessness and deceit.) We urge others in leadership positions, especially law enforcement, to make the well-being of kids their top priority, even if it means taking career risks or being unpopular.
Third, every institution in society can, and must, do a better job of safeguarding the most vulnerable among us.
With law enforcement and government agencies, there's at least some degree of openness and external oversight. So we worry most about private organizations, like churches, whose hierarchies tend to be insular, secretive, and beyond any 'checks and balances' that might make decision-makers act more responsibly.
Finally, we hope that Canadian lawmakers will look long and hard at the report and devise reforms that will deter future recklessness and deceit by those in authority over kids who may still be tempted to ignore or conceal child sex crimes.
(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), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home)
Police, church, province failed to protect children in Cornwall: Inquiry
Ottawa CitizenDecember 15, 2009 12:03 p.m.
OTTAWA — In an exhaustive and massive report Justice Normand Glaude has levelled a damning indictment of the system of justice that he says should have protected youths from the predations of pedophiles.
The judge said that from the Cornwall police department, through the Ontario Provincial Police, and two ministries of the Ontario government, institutions acted to cover-up the actions of people who were abusing teenagers because they feared the embarrassment such a revelation would cause.
"When faced with allegations of historical abuse institutions were ill-equipped," said Glaude at a Cornwall, Ont. press conference.
The inquiry — which cost about $50 million — was called in 2005 and testimony began in February 2006.
Glaude heard testimony from about 175 witnesses who ranged from victims of sexual abuse to contextual experts and current and former officials at institutions such as the Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese, Cornwall police, Ontario Provincial Police, Children's Aid Society and Upper Canada District School Board.
The inquiry came about after a sweeping investigation known as Project Truth that began in 1992, provincial police laid 114 charges against 15 people, including a doctor, a lawyer and three members of the Roman Catholic clergy.
Only three cases made it to court, with one man pleading guilty.
Police said they found no evidence a pedophile ring operated in the city.
The inquiry heard a "moral panic" swept Cornwall when local institutions did not respond appropriately to allegations of widespread child sexual abuse.
Some institutions placed much of the blame for the community's fears on the work of former Cornwall police officer Perry Dunlop — whose investigation helped touch off a sex scandal in the city — painting him as a rogue officer involved in a conspiracy theory.
However, a victims group, comprising sexual assault victims, argued that Dunlop "filled a hole created by inept, ineffective, incompetent and corrupt public institutions in Cornwall," emerging as a "trusted figure to whom victims of abuse could turn in the hopes that someone would listen with compassion and understanding."
Dunlop refused to testify at the public inquiry, saying he had lost faith in the judicial process.
As a result, he was jailed more than seven months for contempt of court.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests