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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, August 6, 2010
Ex-pastor to be released as sex offender for touching girl; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)
It's disturbing to see that some apparently believe this proven child predator is somehow innocent. Impartial jurors carefully heard and weighed the evidence against Rev. Procanick and determined he molested a child. Yet a few of his flock somehow feel they're more qualified to find the truth than veteran police, experienced prosecutors, jurors and the time-tested US justice system.
It's heart-breaking to think of the pain these congregants are causing Procanick's victim. They are being extraordinarily callous and reckless. The church members are endangering other kids by their public support of a convicted criminal. And they are rubbing even more salt into the already-deep and still fresh suffering of the girl this shrewd predator abused.
It's crucial that others who have seen, suspected or suffered Procanick's crimes come forward now. Victims and witnesses must call police so that others can be protected, the truth can be known, this predator can be jailed again, and true healing can begin.
(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. 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)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747 cell), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)
Ex-pastor to be released as sex offender for touching girl
A former Clinton pastor convicted in 2008 of inappropriately touching a 7-year-old girl at his home is due to be released from prison in September as a registered sex offender.
When the Rev. William Procanick returns to the community on Sept. 21, he will be registered as a Level 1 sex offender, the lowest rating for such an offender, Oneida County Court Judge Michael L. Dwyer said Thursday.
As Procanick, 56, walked into the courtroom in shackles, he took a moment to smile to more than 20 friends, family and members of his congregation who had gathered to show support for the man who once led their church, Resurrection Assembly of God on Kirkland Avenue.
After the brief proceeding, the group came together outside the courtroom for a brief prayer.
“He has remained faithful in Christ, and he has remained like a person with a strong heart and a hopeful disposition,” said Procanick’s attorney, Robert Wells of Syracuse.
In February 2008, Procanick was sentenced to three years in prison after he was found guilty of first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the March 2007 incident.
The girl’s mother was never told about Thursday’s proceeding, and she wasn’t aware that Procanick is due to be released in several weeks. Upon hearing this news, she said she felt shock and disgust that so many people still are acting like Procanick didn’t do anything wrong.
“My daughter is scared. We all are, and we don’t want to run into him,” said the mother, whose daughter is now 10 years old. “I don’t think he’s a decent person, and there’s nothing decent about him.”
The O-D does not identify victims of sex crimes.
Since Procanick still denies he did anything wrong — Procanick previously told jurors he was only giving the girl a backrub and massage at her own request — the girl’s mother is fearful that the one-time religious leader has manipulated people into believing he is innocent.
He put the girl’s family through a nightmare that they just are starting to recover from, the mother said.
“I hope people take this seriously, because I don’t think anybody is taking it seriously right now,” she said. “But you just have to trust God that he is going to take care it.”
As Procanick stood trial more than two years ago, the courtroom was filled to capacity every day with people showing their support for Procanick.
They came to tears when he was found guilty of sexually abusing the girl, and they wrote about 80 letters to the judge on Procanick’s behalf before he was taken into custody to begin his prison sentence.
Since Procanick was last in court, he has grown a gray goatee, but his friendly demeanor remained the same in the courtroom.
Procanick, however, became argumentative at times as the prosecutor, then-Assistant District Attorney Doug DeMarche Jr., said Procanick went beyond a simple backrub by caressing sexual and intimate parts of the girl’s body for his own sexual gratification.
Also, Procanick’s own voice could be heard in a recorded phone call talking with the girl’s mother about his possible interest in her daughter’s “muscular body.”
The girl was wearing clothes at the time while she spent the night at the Procanick residence, prosecutors said.
Once Procanick is released in about 45 days, it remains unclear in what capacity he will return to any church activities, his attorney said after Thursday’s brief proceeding.
While Wells would not speculate about what lessons Procanick might have learned from this experience and his time behind bars, Wells was hopeful that Procanick will move forward with his life despite the shadow of being a sex offender.
“I’m all about the future tense now, and so is everybody here,” Wells said after a brief prayer with Procanick’s supporters.
Copyright 2010 The Observer-Dispatch. Some rights reserved
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests