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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, June 3, 2010
Clergy sex victims seek info about man linked to JonBenet Ramsey
Statement by David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell)
Under then-Archbishop William Levada, John Mark Karr taught at an all-girls Bay Area Catholic school. Karr is in the news again today in connection with allegations of death threats and child sex abuse.
In 2006, when Karr first surfaced as a suspect in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, we urged the archbishop of San Francisco to aggressively seek out others who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes. Our pleas were ignored.
Today, we repeat and expand our request. We are begging all current and former Bay Area church employees and church members: If you have any suspicions or information (however old or slight or seemingly insignificant) about Karr’s misdeeds, please call law enforcement immediately. It’s crucial that adults do everything possible to expose wrong-doers and protect kids.
It’s especially important that Catholic officials, who keep pledging to do more to safeguard children, use their vast resources to seek out victims, witnesses and whistleblowers in cases like these. The San Francisco archdiocese has dozens of parish bulletins and hundreds of church staff who should be prodded to speak with their colleagues, examine their consciences, and share what they know with police and prosecutors. More importantly, having put Karr in contact with kids, the San Francisco archdiocese has a moral and civic duty to turn over his personnel files to law enforcement and aggressively seek out others who might help put this apparently dangerous man behind bars.
(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)
Ex-JonBenet suspect sought after alleged threats
SAN FRANCISCO — Police are seeking the whereabouts of the man who once falsely claimed to have murdered JonBenet Ramsey after a former acquaintance told authorities that he threatened to kill her if she revealed his attempts to form a cult of little girls to have sex with him.
Samantha Spiegel, 19, claimed in a request for a restraining order against John Mark Karr that he made "ongoing death threats" and "threats of sexual exploitation to children" in e-mails and instant messages. The order was granted on April 19, but Spiegel's attorney said Karr has not been served because he could not be found.
Officer Alberto Esparza, a department spokesman, said Wednesday that Karr's "whereabouts are unknown."
"Our primary concern is the victim's safety," he said. "San Francisco police takes these threats very seriously and we're doing everything we can to continue the investigation and bring it to a close."
Spiegel told NBC's "Today" show that she had known Karr since she was 9, when he was a teacher at her school in San Francisco. She said they later became engaged.
Karr is now living as a woman.
Her attorney, Robin Sax, told The Associated Press that Spiegel reached out to Karr after he confessed to the death of 6-year-old child beauty queen JonBenet, whose body was found in 1996 in her parents' home in Boulder, Colo.
"She sought him out trying to reconnect, wanting to find out what happened to him," Sax said.
Things moved quickly to Karr contacting her hundreds of times a day, Sax said.
Spiegel also said Karr told her to help him recruit children, and that she thought about letting him meet her niece. Spiegel now says she was brainwashed, and that she's speaking out to help other potential victims.
"I think this is something I would have liked someone to do for me when I was in his grip," Spiegel said.
Karr drew international attention in 2006 with his arrest in Thailand over his bizarre, detailed confession into JonBenet's death, but DNA tests failed to put him at the crime scene.
He legally changed his name in Washington state to Alexis Valoran Reich in 2008, according to court documents.
Messages sent to the e-mail from which the threatening messages came were not immediately returned.
Sax said she believes Karr is running a website that includes his writings and statements, but it could not be confirmed that he was involved with the site. A phone call and e-mail to the site's administrator were not returned.
A hearing on whether to extend Spiegel's restraining order was postponed Wednesday until June 23.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
June 3, 2010 6:25 AM
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/KPIX/AP) John Mark Karr, once considered a suspect in the murder of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenetRamsey, is trying to form a cult of little girls to have sex with him, according to a California teenager.
Nineteen-year-old Samantha Spiegel, who appeared Wednesday on NBC's "Today" Show, said Karr is trying to recruit girls 6 and younger, and preferably brunette, for a sex cult she called "The Immaculates," says CBS affiliate KPIX.
In a further twist, Spiegel also claimed John Mark Karr is now living as a woman.
Spiegel was granted a temporary restraining order against Karr April 19, but the courts have been unable to serve him with the papers because they can't find him.
Spiegel says she was nine when she first met Karr, who was a teacher's aide at her all-girls Catholic school. She lost touch with him, but attempted to reconnect after Karr confessed to the 1996 murder of JonBenet Ramsey, says Spiegel's attorney Robin Sax.
Sax is a Crimesider contributor.
Karr's bizarre, detailed confession in the Ramsey case was dismissed because DNA tests failed to connect him to the crime scene.
Unfortunately for Spiegel, she says she opened up a door for Karr that she could not close. According to Sax, Karr began emailing and instant messaging Spiegel over a hundred times a day.
The teen maintains that Karr, who now goes by the woman's name Alexis Valoran Reich, made what was described as "ongoing death threats" and "threats of exploitation to children" in emails.
Spiegel, who claims Karr brainwashed her, says she and Karr had been engaged, and that he told her to help him recruit children. She even thought about letting him meet her niece, says KPIX.
She says she's speaking out now to help other potential victims.
"I think I was just thinking that he was misunderstood. He was a victim of his childhood, of his family, of everybody, and that he needed to be saved in some sort of way," Spiegel said.
As for Karr's apparent name change, it was reported by media outlets as early as March that Karr was undergoing a full gender transformation, reports KPIX.
------------------------------SNAP MEDIA ADVISORY FROM 2006
Sex abuse victims to Catholic officials: do outreach in JonBenet Ramsey case
Alleged killer worked in San Fran parochial school just months before child porn charges
Archbishop should make public appeal for witnesses, victims to come forward, SNAP says
Public school superintendents should do the same, self-help group believes
They question Catholic administrator’s claim that Karr was “never with students alone”
SNAP believes the Archdiocese, with its extensive database of parents and students, could help find others who know of or suspect other crimes by Karr from his years in the Bay Area.
The group wants Archbishop George Neiderauer to reach out - through his website, newspaper, parish bulletins, personal appearances and letters to all parents, staff, and alums of Sacred Heart – and beg anyone with possible information about Karr’s alleged crimes to call the police.
SNAP is also criticizing a parochial school administrator who has publicly claimed that Karr was “never, ever was alone with students.” It takes only seconds to molest a child, and SNAP questions how any school staff member can make such an extreme statement.
Karr worked in at least four northern California school districts. SNAP will urge leaders of those districts to take similar outreach steps.
CONTACT - David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566-9790 cell
------------------------------------------ SNAP’s 2006 LETTER
August 24, 2006
Dear Archbishop Niederauer,
We write today, once again, to ask for your help in protecting the innocent and vulnerable members of your diocese. We ask that you forget about lawyers, legal technicalities and protecting the reputation of the church and for once focus on the safety of children.
First, let’s be clear: we know nothing more about John Mark Karr and his alleged crimes beyond what we have learned through the news media. He may or may not be guilty of killing Jon Benet Ramsey. He may or may not have molested kids. We know that then Karr fled the country.
What we do know is that Karr worked at Sacred Heart, an all girls Catholic grammar school. We know that within months, perhaps weeks, of working at this Catholic school, Karr was criminally charged with possession of child pornography in Sonoma County.
We ask that you do your moral and civil duty by personally visiting every school where Karr worked and remind parishioners of their duty to report abuse, suspicion of abuse or if they have witnessed abuse.
Please use the diocesan newspaper, church bulletins and your website. It is never easy to report abuse but with encouragement from their spiritual leader they may find the courage to contact police.
This is the time to take action, not create another policy, procedure or committee. Write alumni and their families, current students, faculty and staff at Sacred Heart. Ask them if they have any knowledge or suspicions of abuse; urge them to contact the police. All abuse is horrific but this crime was especially so, use this opportunity to help solve a crime and help a family to find some measure of peace and justice.
This is not the time to be on the defensive, “he was never alone with the children” this is the time to be open and cooperative, the time to put the safety of children ahead of all else. This is a chance to work with civil authorities to solve a horrific crime. This is a chance to be a spiritual leader, reach out to the lost lambs.
Abuse victims suffer in silence and shame, with your encouragement maybe they too can find the courage to report the crimes and begin the healing process. Abuse thrives in secrecy help us break the silence.
We await your response.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests