The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, May 25, 2010
In Brief to High Court, U.S. Supports Vatican in Sex-Abuse Case; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Blaine, president and founder of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747)
We're glad this brave victim still has a chance to expose Vatican complicity in horrific child sex crimes. We are certain he's known from the outset it would be an uphill struggle seeking justice against the world's largest and oldest monarchy. We're disappointed that a man who has suffered so much will likely see this as another setback, though at the same time, we realize that any time a clergy sex abuse victim clears any hurdle, it's progress, even if it doesn't feel that way at the time.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world'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 globe. 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)
Contacts: David Clohessy (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Mark Serrano (703-727-4940), Peter Isely (414-429-7259)
In Brief to High Court, U.S. Supports Vatican in Sex-Abuse Case
For the most part, the U.S. government has stayed on the sideline while big-ticket litigation against the Vatican over sex-abuse claims has played out.
But you can rest assured that folks at the U.S. State Department are paying close attention. After all, it’s not every day that litigation against a foreign nation makes its way to the steps of the Supreme Court.
In a filing made late last week, the U.S. government weighed in, largely siding with the Vatican’s argument that the Ninth Circuit erred by allowing a sex-abuse case to go forward against the Vatican. The move represented a rare foray by Washington into the highly sensitive litigation.
In the filing, the solicitor general’s office urged the Supreme Court to set aside the Ninth Circuit ruling and order the Ninth Circuit to reconsider it in light of a different reading on the law of sovereign immunity. Click here for the WSJ story; here for the filing.
The lawsuit, Doe v. Holy See, was filed in 2002 on behalf of a man who claimed he was sexually abused by a priest in Oregon in the mid-1960s. The plaintiff named the Holy See as a defendant, in addition to a handful of other parties.
The plaintiff’s theory: Since the accused priest had previously been accused of abusing children in Ireland and Chicago, the Vatican should be held accountable for moving the priest to Oregon and continuing to let him serve, where it was conceivable he would continue to abuse. Jeffrey Lena, attorney for the Vatican, noted that the plaintiff has not provided evidence that the Vatican moved the priest in question around, or had control over the priest.
Specifically, the solicitor general’s office argued in its brief that the Ninth Circuit misapplied the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a 1976 federal law governing when U.S. courts can hear cases against other countries.
Commenting on the brief, David Bederman, an international-law expert at Emory University School of Law, said that, “the door may still be cracked a bit,” for the plaintiff, “but there’s not a lot of daylight showing.”
Jeffrey Anderson, the lawyer for the plaintiff, called the Solicitor General’s brief “a little perplexing,” but said he remained heartened that the government didn’t recommend more-drastic action, such as dismissing the case altogether.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests