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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Rulings upheld in boys ranch case; sex abuse victims respond
Statement by Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003)
We're saddened that victims will be isolated by this ruling and that jurors will be denied a chance to learn the full extent of crimes and cover ups at this facility.
If kids are to be safer, judges must be more understanding about abuse and its impact on deeply wounded victims.
Many child sex abuse victims often feel the justice system is stacked against them and in favor of predators. This court decision reinforces this impression and may make it harder for other victims to step forward in the future and get help, expose predators an safeguard others.
(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)
Rulings upheld in boys ranch case
A state appeals court panel has declined to review a judge’s decision to limit the number of witnesses who may testify in the second child sex abuse lawsuit against Morning Star Boys’ Ranch.
George H. Minehart II has sued Morning Star, claiming to have been abused by the ranch’s former director, the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, and other staff members while a resident of the ranch in 1980 and 1981.
Attorneys for Minehart hoped to bring several witnesses who also claim to have been abused while living at the ranch.
But Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor ruled that only those witnesses who reported their alleged abuse at the time of the incident may testify. Minehart’s attorneys moved to have the state Court of Appeals for Division III review O’Connor’s ruling.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the appeals court denied the motion, saying the trial court “is in a far better position at this time to determine the value and prejudice of the information” that may be provided by witnesses.
The appeals court judges also denied a motion by Morning Star’s attorneys to review other rulings by O’Connor, including her decision to exclude a polygraph examination of Weitensteiner.
Neither side showed that O’Connor was in error, appeals court Judge Kevin Korsmo wrote. Judges Dennis Sweeny and Laurel Siddoway concurred.
Minehart’s trial was stayed last month while the appeals court considered the evidentiary ruling. The lawsuit, the second of 19 claims against Morning Star filed in Spokane County Superior Court, now will be rescheduled.
In February, a unanimous jury found against the first plaintiff, Kenneth Putnam.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests