The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Clergy sex abuse victims blast Spokane Catholic bishop
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)
Spokane’s bishop wants to have his cake and eat it too. He seeks bankruptcy protection, then challenges the bankruptcy process. He should be ashamed.
We are grateful to the wounded men and women who continue to find the courage to report their abuse, even through a long and odious legal process. We hope they’ll get the validation, closure and healing they deserve.
The bishop got what he wanted - a largely secretive process that
Now however, as deeply wounded victims keep coming forward, he’s suddenly dissatisfied. Shame on him.
If a bishop wants a convenient, “one size fits all” legal maneuver, he can get it (through a diocesan bankruptcy). If a bishop wants to aggressively challenge the veracity of those who report clergy sex crimes, he can do so (through litigating cases individually).
He just can’t have it both ways.
Either way, since the crimes and cover ups have spanned decades, victims will keep stepping forward for years to come. The bishop should realize this and stop complaining.
We’re not lawyers, but it’s clear that when two sides in a dispute agree to arbitration, they agree to accept the arbitrator’s decisions. But Catholic bishops are monarchs, and very accustomed to excessive deference. They often find it very tough to submit to the dictates of judges and courts. That’s what seems to be happening here.
(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), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)
Diocese appeals bankruptcy court rulings
John Stucke - firstname.lastname@example.org, (509) 459-5419
The Catholic Diocese of Spokane has appealed a recent series of bankruptcy court rulings that could cost it millions of dollars more.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams last month affirmed the powers of a court-appointed reviewer who weighs the merits of clergy sex abuse claims and determines cash awards to victims. Williams rejected diocese motions to seal court records and then challenge the reviewer's decisions in an attempt to unwind recent cash awards to some sex abuse victims.
Diocese officials contend the claims reviewer, Kate Pflaumer, a former U.S. attorney for Western Washington, made mistakes and acted outside the scope of her authority by rewarding claims that should have been deemed technically invalid and others that are perhaps scurrilous. At stake is possibly millions more dollars that the diocese may have to collect from parishioners or borrow to settle these new allegations, called future claims.
None of the new allegations has been made by children alleging recent abuse. Rather, they are accusations by adults who contend they were sexually abused by priests and other clergy years ago and are just now able to link that abuse to problems in their lives.
While the diocese attempted to use federal bankruptcy laws to bring an end to the sex abuse scandal by setting a deadline for victims to file claims, the $48 million settlement fashioned by all sides left a narrow opening for future claims.
Attorneys representing some of the victims said the diocese is now attempting to subvert the settlement and the authority of the reviewer – similar to an arbitrator – as the numbers of new claims exceed expectations.
More than 20 such claims have been filed. They are separate from the 184 sex abuse claims initially filed.
Diocese attorney Greg Arpin said an appeal is necessary to ensure the reviewer's decisions can be challenged.
The appeal has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Lonny Suko.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests