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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, August 26, 2010
Twice accused priest is kept in ministry in OK
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, executive director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
In a short, terse letter, Tulsa Catholic officials today notified a clergy sex abuse victim that they are “not able to substantiate” his report of childhood sexual abuse by Fr. Paul Eichhoff, so Eichhoff will remain as pastor of a Claremont/Claremore church, despite allegations of child sex abuse leveled against him by two different men, neither of whom filed lawsuits.
This is proof-positive that the Catholic hierarchy continues to protect predators instead of children.
On August 12 the brave and compassionate victim paid his way from Colorado to Tulsa, disclosed his identity, discussed his abuse, and warned parents and parishioners about this dangerous cleric. He filed a police report about the crimes he suffered. He opened himself up to questioning. Months ago, he spent four hours talking to a so-called investigator hired by the Tulsa bishop.
He has done everything a caring, responsible adult, who was molested as a child, should do.
Now that bishop and his secretive, lame process have betrayed this courageous victim. Worse, that bishop has opted for inaction over caution, and is choosing, again, to put kids at risk of devastating child sex crimes by one of his priests.
Because of his concern for other vulnerable kids, the victim spoke out to alert parishioners and the public about a child molesting cleric and a corrupt church hierarchy. The biased and inadequate so-called “investigation” by Tulsa Catholic officials shows that top church staff is, indeed, corrupt, still recklessly and callously putting kids in harm’s way.
Bishops sometimes ask child sex abuse victims to tell church officials about child sex abuse. This irresponsible decision to keep a twice-accused child molesting cleric on the job should make it clear that reporting child sex crimes to church staff is problematic. We urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered sexual misdeeds by clergy to call independent sources of support first – police, prosecutors, therapists, support groups – before calling church employees.
If ever a bishop genuinely feels unclear about an allegation, there's an easy way to get at the truth in child sex allegations: go to parishes the accused child molester works or worked and strongly urge anyone with information that could prove or disprove the allegation to come forward. That's essentially what bishops have promised - to be "open" about child sex cases. That's clearly what bishops could do - they have websites and PR staffs and parish bulletins and diocesan newspapers. But that's still what bishops virtually never do, preferring instead to quietly settle cases behind closed doors and hope that the crimes and cover ups remain covered up.
Regarding “false” allegations, consider this from the New York Times:
“Patrick Schiltz, dean of the University of St. Thomas law school in Minnesota, said that over more than a decade he had defended Catholic dioceses against sexual-abuse lawsuits in more than 500 cases, and that he had concluded that ‘fewer than 10’ of those cases were based on false accusations.”
In light of this, Tulsa Catholics should ask themselves one simple question: What are the odds that two men, neither of them seeking money, would wrongly accuse the same priest of childhood sexual abuse?
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members across the country. 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, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests