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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Sex abuse victims worry about new Catholic bishop
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)
For many reasons, we’re troubled by Fr. LaValley’s promotion and his history of secrecy surrounding child sex crimes.
For years after Fr. John J. Fallon was convicted of child porn, LaValley and his colleagues let him be listed as “on sick leave” and quietly sent him to another diocese where he lived in a church retirement home for clerics.
As recently as 2003, LaValley’s diocese suspended Fr. Paul F. Worczak after Woirczak was accused of sexually abusing a boy but refused to say why.
Later that same year, LaValley refused to provide details about the removal of other accused pedophile priests in the diocese.
(This kind of secrecy is one of the key reasons thousands of priests were able to molest tens of thousands of boys and girls, and contradicts the repeated pledges by Catholic officials to respond to abuse allegations with “openness and transparency.”)
As recently as 2003, LaValley’s diocese was cited by national church officials for not adequately performing background checks for all staff and failing “to establish liaison with civil authorities regarding reporting allegations of sexual abuse and cooperation in the ensuing investigations.”
In 2002-03, LaValley headed the diocese’s review board which looked into child sex abuse reports. It’s callous and insensitive, we believe, to have a priest overseeing a panel looking at charges against fellow priests. (Most dioceses have a lay person in this role.)
LaValley may try to blame his predecessor for some of these failures. But it’s important to remember that for almost the last 15 years, he has been a high-ranking diocesan insider (as an “episcopal vicar” and “chancellor”). As such, it’s virtually inconceivable that he wasn't a key player in these decisions.
We also see no evidence that at the time of these reckless or secretive moves, or in the years afterwards, he made any apologies or efforts to un-do some of the damage caused by these decisions.
LaValley’s promotion raises a troubling question: Is it that hard for the Vatican to find good, smart priests who have not been accused of secrecy surrounding clergy sex crimes?
As long as Catholic officials continue to promote corrupt colleagues, child sex crimes and cover ups will continue happening.
(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 22 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), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests