The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Predatory pries ousted; Sex abuse victims respond
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, national president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747)
We’re deeply saddened that yet another Catholic priest has molested yet another child. We’re also disappointed by the continuing secrecy of Stockton church officials, who apparently aren’t disclosing the predator’s whereabouts.
At the same time, we’re very glad this victim found the courage to speak up and expose a predator. We applaud such bravery and compassion. We hope this will encourage others with information about clergy sex crimes and cover ups to speak up. That’s the only way to protect kids.
Finally, we strongly suspect there are others with information about other possible crimes by Suarez. We urge anyone with any knowledge of his misdeeds – however slight, old or vague – to call law enforcement. The best thing that can happen now would be if other victims and witnesses stepped up and helped law enforcement successfully prosecute this child molesting cleric.
(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)
Priest who served in Stanislaus County removed over sexual misconduct
By Sue Nowicki - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rev. Leo Suarez, a priest who most recently served at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Modesto, has been removed due to sexual misconduct with a minor 20 years ago, the Stockton Diocese revealed today.
Under the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, established by the nation’s bishops in 2002, Suarez will never again be allowed to serve as a priest.
It is not known how old the minor was — whether a child or teen — or if the victim was a boy or a girl. But the timing shows that Suarez, born in Mexico and ordained in the diocese in 1988, was serving at St. Anthony’s in Hughson as an associate priest at the time of the misconduct. It was his first parish assignment.
He served there until 1991, and then moved to St. Stanislaus in Modesto for a year before serving at two Stockton parishes for the next 14 years. Following a study leave in Mexico, he served at Sacred Heart parish in Turlock in 2008-2009 and was moved to Our Lady of Fatima for a short time in 2009 before he was removed and sent to treatment.
It is unclear if the victim reported the abuse to the diocese or if the matter was brought to light in another way. There was no lawsuit filed, said Sister Terry Davis, spokeswoman for the diocese.
A press release from the diocese said no other allegations have been made against Suarez and asked that information about similar incidents be reported to Sister Barbara Thiella, victim assistance counselor, at 466-0636.
Suarez “has expressed deep sorrow over the hurt he has caused,” the press release said. Bishop Stephen Blaire added in the release, “I hold in prayer all who have been hurt by what happened.”
The nation’s most notorious pedophile priest, Oliver O’Grady, had also served at St. Anthony’s in Hughson, although most of his victims came from Stockton parishes.
Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at 578-2012.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests