The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, January 8, 2010
Priest accused of child sex crime ousted; Sex abuse 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)
We’re glad that Jefferson City’s Catholic bishop has temporarily ousted a priest accused of a possible child sex crime. But we’re troubled by the fact that Fr. Seifner’s suspension is made public two weeks after it occurred and only because of the news media. When Bishop Gaydos knows of or suspects a sexual predator on his payroll, he has a duty to tell all citizens, not just a few dozen Catholics, about the alleged crimes. That’s the responsible course of action. And he has an obligation to do so promptly and publicly.
This diocese is apparently incapable of being honest and forthcoming about clergy sex crimes and cover ups. In virtually every case for the past five or six years, church officials have delayed disclosing proven, admitted or credible child sex allegations until forced to do so by police, prosecutors, litigation, or journalists.
Anyone with information about Seifner’s alleged misdeeds should come forward, get help, and call police so that kids can be protected and so that healing can happen.
(According to church records and websites, Fr. Thomas Seifner was ordained in 1992 and worked at churches in Westphalia, Pilot Grove, Loose Creek, Clifton City, Wardsville, Chamois, Palmyra and Mokane.)
(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)
Catholic priest in Loose Creek removed pending investigation
By Gerry Tritz
Fr. Thomas Seifner accused of 'inappropriate' behavior, relieved of duties
Published: Friday, January 8, 2010 6:06 AM CST
The pastor of the Catholic churches in Loose Creek and Bonnots Mill has been accused of "inappropriate electronic communication" with a minor and removed from his duties while an investigation takes place.
Bishop John Gaydos placed Father Thomas Seifner on temporary administrative leave Dec. 18.
Gaydos, along with Monsignor Gregory Higley, the diocesan vicar general, personally informed both congregations during Masses on Dec. 19 and 20.
The reported incident took place five years ago, and the minor is now an adult, according to a statement from Mark Saucier, a spokesman for the Jefferson City Diocese.
He would not elaborate on the statement, except to say he's not aware of any other accusations against Seifner.
Several parishioners described Seifner as an affable man who fit in perfectly in the tight-knit town of Loose Creek, population 554. A deer hunter and devout follower of the Kansas City Chiefs, he was well-liked by adults as well as students in the church school.
"I haven't heard anybody here with a negative comment" about Seifner, said Dan Thoenen, a lifelong resident of Loose Creek and member of Immaculate Conception Church.
When Seifner was assigned to Immaculate Conception in July 2009, "we thought we landed a jim-dandy," Thoenen said. "He was one of the first priests that we noticed who was teaching religion in the school like when we were children."
Parish members said they haven't heard from Seifner since the bishop's announcement. They said he's left the rectory, and they don't know where he's living.
"Our experience has been if they remove a priest, there's a lot of evidence. Rarely if ever do they remove somebody and put them back and say, 'Oops, we goofed,'" said Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
"I hope everything turns out for him, because you always hope and wish for the best of your community and everyone around you," Thoenen said. "We want everything to go back to the way it was. But if there is something (to the accusation), the bishop has to do what he has to do."
Read expanded coverage in our newspaper or e-Edition for Friday, Jan. 8, 2010.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests