The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, June 2, 2010
DA says no charges yet vs. LA archdiocese; clergy sex victims respond
Statement by Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003 cell, 314-862-7688 home)
We know church officials and church lawyers are extremely shrewd. Still, it’s boggling that Cooley can’t find a single member of the hundreds on the Los Angeles archdiocesan staff who can be charged with endangering kids, concealing crimes, destroying evidence, obstructing justice or enabling or ignoring child sex crimes.
We know that California’s archaic, predator-friendly statutes of limitations are problematic. But we also know that in recent years, more prosecutors across the US have become more aggressive and creative and resourceful pursuing older child sex crimes and cover ups using novel legal theories and assertive investigatory techniques.
There are more than 250 publicly-named proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting Los Angeles archdiocesan clerics. (We suspect there are dozens of others who haven’t yet been publicly exposed.) It’s just hard to believe that not one of their colleagues or supervisors will or could face criminal charges for any wrongdoing at all.
If indeed, as Cooley claims, “reluctant victims” are an obstacle, we hope that he will use his “bully pulpit” to do more to prod fearful church members and employees, past and present, to do their civic duty and call police. We’ve seen how emphatic public pleas for more information about clergy sex crimes and cover ups can be very effective in encouraging those trapped in shame, silence and self blame to speak up.
It’s predictable but disappointing that Mahony’s PR man still mischaracterizes recklessness, callousness and deceit by church officials as mere “mistakes.” One reason kids keep getting molested by Catholic employees and the crimes keep getting concealed by Catholic officials is because most church employees can’t even bring themselves to admit that bishops took and take deliberate steps to ignore victims, stonewall police, deceive prosecutors, and protect predators. Until church staff starts acknowledging and accurately describing the crux of the crisis, there will be little or no reform within the church hierarchy.
(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), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003)
DA: Insufficient evidence found to charge cardinal
LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors haven't discovered enough evidence during eight years of investigation to charge the leaders of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles for their handling of the clergy abuse scandal, according to a memo provided Wednesday.
The investigation of alleged sex abuse by priests remained active, but a criminal conspiracy case against archdiocese officials was "more and more remote" because of the passage of time, said the memo written last week by Deputy District Attorney William Hodgman.
Investigators have insufficient evidence to fill in a timeline stretching over 20 years and are hampered by the statute of limitations, Hodgman wrote.
The district attorney's office did subpoena documents from the archdiocese and hoped to use the material to build more cases, but the effort was stymied by reluctant victims and insufficient evidence to corroborate what was in the documents, Hodgman wrote.
The memo was released in response to questions about District Attorney Steve Cooley's handling of the priest abuse investigation, which began in 2002. Cooley is in the final week of a campaign to become the Republican nominee for California attorney general.
Cardinal Roger Mahony has come under fire for his handling of several abusive priests during his tenure in the Los Angeles archdiocese and agreed to pay $660 million in 2007 to more than 500 alleged clergy abuse victims.
A federal grand jury is also probing the archdiocese's handling of the scandal.
The memo, which contains redacted portions, does not name Mahony as the subject of its investigation and only refers to the church hierarchy.
Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg said he had not seen the memo. Still, any suggestion of criminal wrongdoing by Mahony or others in the church leadership was false, he added.
"Our documents and actions have been scrutinized for nearly 10 years by judges and investigators, and numerous archdiocesan officials have spent hundreds of hours answering questions under oath," he said.
"While Cardinal Mahony has said that mistakes were made in dealing with individual cases of abuse in past decades, no facts have established that these mistakes were anything other than mistakes," Tamberg said.
Prosecutors have won convictions against six priests since 2002 and were forced to dismiss 11 cases in 2003 after the U.S. Supreme Court found a law that extended the statute of limitations in some sex abuse cases was unconstitutional.
Investigators are currently pursuing a case against another priest, the memo said.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests