The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, June 3, 2010
Lawyer urges Italian bishop be charged in child abuse case; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-203-0003 cell, 314-862-7688 home)
For the sake of justice and prevention, we wholeheartedly agree that law enforcement should consider filing criminal charges against Bishop Reali. It’s incredibly wrong, callous and reckless for well-educated, powerful men to essentially enable child molesters to keep molesting by refusing to call police when suspicions arise.
Most child molesters are compulsive, driven and deeply troubled men who won’t be deterred by threats of punishment. Some bishops, however, may well change their behavior if they see their colleagues arrested and charged for keeping quiet about alleged child sex crimes. So criminal charges against Reali or other top Catholic officials could do much to stop predatory priests much more quickly.
(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)
Lawyer urges Italian bishop be charged in child abuse case
Rome, Italy (CNN) -- A second lawyer is calling for charges to be filed against an Italian Catholic bishop for failing to report the alleged sexual abuse of minors by a Roman priest.
Fabrizio Gallo represents an alleged victim in the trial of Rev. Ruggero Conti, who is accused of molesting seven boys at a parish in Rome.
Gallo said Thursday he believes there is enough evidence to prove the bishop, Monsignor Gino Reali, knew about the alleged abuse and did nothing to stop it -- making him an accomplice to the crime.
A lawyer representing other alleged victims of Conti urged the prosecutor last month to charge Reali on similar grounds.
Reali testified at Conti's trial last month that he was aware of the accusations against the priest, and although he found them "alarming," he did not stop the priest's contact with children.
He said he spoke to more than 20 other people, including priests, about the allegations and afterward told Conti to take on "more prudent behavior" toward children.
Reali testified that he even established a diocesan tribunal to investigate Conti's actions based on a victim's account, but a hearing never took place because the victim backed down from testifying.
When Reali was asked by the civil lawyers representing some of the victims at the trial why he didn't stop Conti's contact with children, given the gravity of the accusations, Reali replied it was because he tried to get the facts and not just rely on rumors.
Under Italian law, a bishop is not obliged to tell police about a priest accused of committing sexual abuse.
Vatican guidelines regarding clerical abuse state the local diocese must investigate "every allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric," and that "if the allegation has a semblance of truth," it must be referred to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith so it can decide whether a canonical trial should be launched.
Reali testified he was aware of his obligation under the guidelines but did not inform the congregation.
Gallo said he requested Monday that prosecutors charge Reali with aiding and abetting the crime of sexual abuse.
Reali had no comment about the trial or Gallo's request, his office told CNN on Thursday.
At last month's hearing, lawyer Nino Marazzita, who represents other alleged victims of Conti's, urged the prosecutor to charge Reali with aiding and abetting the crime of pedophilia.
The "crime of pedophilia must be fought by eradicating the pedophiles and also by eradicating those who allow it," Marazzita said last month.
It was the first time such an indictment request had been made against an Italian bishop in relation to the sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric, Marazzita told CNN.
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, head of the Italian Bishops Conference, told reporters last week "it is possible" that in Italy there are cases in which priests covered up accusations against pedophile priests.
The conference has said there have been about a 100 allegations of clerical sexual abuse over the past decade.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests