The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, June 11, 2010
Catholic teacher arrested; SNAP responds
Statement by David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home)
A female parochial school teacher in North County stands accused of molesting a student. It’s troublesome that apparently Catholic officials knew enough to suspend her in April and refused to warn the public. Only when police arrest this suspected predator does the news surface.
Such secrecy and delay gives likely criminals ample opportunities to intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, fabricate alibis, destroy evidence, and sometimes even become fugitives. Why didn’t the archdiocese alert the public that she was suspended months ago?
Just a few weeks ago, in South County, police began investigating an alleged case of child pornography at a Catholic day care center. It was a similar scenario: Catholic staffers didn’t notify the public; the news media did. As much as Catholic officials want to pretend this crisis is waning, it’s clearly not.
We hope that every person who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by this teacher will find the courage and strength to report to law enforcement officials, not church officials. By speaking up, we can help protect others and heal ourselves. And by giving information to police and prosecutors, we can help keep sex offenders off the streets.
(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)
High School phys-ed teacher accused of molesting student
Kellie Ryan, of the 2000 block of Lakepoint Drive in Maryland Heights, was charged with two counts of statutory sodomy and one count of statutory rape. She was arrested Thursday and was being held in the St. Louis County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bond.
County police said Ryan engaged in a romantic relationship with the boy between Nov. 1, 2009, and April 16. Police said an anonymous caller alerted officials in April about the relationship by leaving a tip, including the student's name, on the Missouri Department of Social Services Family Support Division's hot line.
Police said they believe the crimes took place in Ryan's car but were not committed during school hours or on school property, said St. Louis County Police Officer Rick Eckhard.
A secretary at Trinity, 1720 Redman Road, said Principal Nancy Lydon was unavailable for comment. Elizabeth Westhoff, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said Ryan had been on administrative leave since April.
Westhoff said Ryan was in her first year at Trinity. Westhoff said a background check done before Ryan's hiring found nothing that would make her unsuitable for working with minors.
Trinity is a coed school of about 420 students. Annual tuition ranges from about $7,700 to about $8,400.
It's unclear whether Ryan's teaching career began at the high school. St. Louis County police have asked anyone with relevant information to call 314-889-2341
Police investigate claims of child pornography at church day care
KSDK -- The St. Louis County Police Department is investigating an incident allegedly involving child pornography at a local day care center run by St. Simon the Apostle Church in Affton.
On April 23, members of the Special Investigation Unit confiscated one computer inside Simon Says Early Childhood Center. Eighty students attend Simon Says, which is on the grounds of St. Simon.
The Special Investigation Unit tracks the distribution of child porn in St. Louis. Police sources tell NewsChannel 5 several people had access to the computer, but since this is an on-going investigation, parents have not been told much.
"Things are being handled appropriately. Parents were informed of as much as we could be. I think we need to see what authorities find out," said parent Maureen Brummet.
A spokesperson with the Archdiocese e-mailed KSDK, saying no one would be available to comment. The spokesperson also forwarded a copy of the letter sent to all parents:
"Simon Says Early Childhood Center was visited by the St. Louis County Police Department on April 23. While at the center, officials removed a computer that is not part of day-to-day operations. We have no reason to believe that the safety or well-being of any student of St. Simon or Simon Says has been compromised. We are working with St. Louis County law enforcement and will keep you apprised of any developments as we become aware of them.
"Let me assure you, your child's safety and well being are of utmost concern to each of us at St. Simon, and we are committed to maintaining a safe environment for our students. If you have any questions, comments, or information that you wish to share with the school, please feel free to contact us.
"Again, we will keep you updated as we learn additional information."
The letter does not mention that the investigation was focusing on child pornography, but parents we spoke too seemed to know what police were targeting.
One parent who is very concerned agreed to talk if we hid his identity.
"We learned it's about child pornography. Right now, I'm not comfortable and I'm thinking about pulling him out of school," he said.
Other parents were satisfied their children are safe.
"I wanted to make sure, if I wasn't given any information that my immediate teachers who I have a relationship with, that I felt safe leaving them, which I did," said parent Tara Siewing.
Forensics specialists are analyzing the seized computer. They're looking to see if child porn was downloaded, or sent out from that computer and whether they can link it to someone who had access.
Police would not tell us what led them to the day care center computer.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests