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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Clergy sex abuse victims react to VT judge's ruling
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790)
We have very mixed feelings about this decision.
On one hand, most clergy sex abuse victims are still in considerable pain and desperately need, and deserve, help quickly. For that reason, there's some good in this ruling.
On the other hand, many clergy sex abuse victims find it very healing to "have their day in court." The chance to really confront in court the corrupt, self-serving church officials who often ignored or concealed horrific crimes may suffer.
In any event, we applaud each one of these victims for finding the strength to report their abuse, get help, take action, expose predators, protect kids, start healing and educate parishioners. We hope their courage will encourage others who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Vermont clergy to step up as well.
(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)
Judge orders priest-abuse cases combined
Free Press Staff Report • Tuesday, February 2, 2010
A Vermont Superior Court judge has ordered 18 cases involving a defrocked Roman Catholic priest's abuse of altar boys be tried jointly.
Judge Helen Toor, in a three-page order, said the 18 remaining cases against Edward Paquette -- already the subject of six previous civil trials -- would be joined.
Most of the cases against Paquette involve claims by former altar boys at Christ the King Church in Burlington who say they were molested by Paquette in the mid-1970s.
Three cases involving complaints against Father Alfred Willis also would be tried jointly.
Toor started investigating the idea of joint trials in November.
"We have all these cases, and I would like to see if there's a way to get them resolved," Toor told lawyers for the plaintiffs and the defendant, the state's Roman Catholic diocese, at a hearing.
"It would take years and years to do these cases piecemeal," Toor told the lawyers. "My concern is about the plaintiffs' sitting out there without a resolution, and the diocese having this hang over its head."
In her order dated Monday, Toor said, "Vermont courts rarely see multiple related cases of this number. Unless this court devoted all of its time to these cases to the exclusion of the many other cases pending on its docket -- an option neither practical nor fair to the many other litigants waiting their turn -- separate trials in all 25 cases will not be concluded for years."
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests