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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Stunning 68 page new report on crimes at overseas mission is released
Statement by Kari Mikitson (a Seattle woman in her 30s who was victimized in childhood at the NTM school in Senegal Africa) 312 505 0160 firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, we’re outside a police station for one simple reason. This is where child sex crimes should be reported – to law enforcement.
No matter what anyone thinks of how any church officials handle any abuse cases, child sex crimes – both known and suspected- should be reported here – to secular authorities, not church authorities.
I returned to Senegal in 2008 to explore the country of my childhood. While I was there, I began hearing stories of sexual abuse at the missionary-run boarding school I attended. This was my first inkling that the sexual abuse that I suffered and reported to New Tribes Mission in 1989 did not happen to me alone.
I talked with another missionary kid from my school. She too was eager to find out the whole truth. As we began contacting other MKs (missionary kids) and asking questions, the reports of abuse snowballed. We took our findings to the current NTM Executive Board expecting outrage and sorrow. After several meetings with the Executive board and other leaders, we realized that New Tribes Mission was still treating us as an inconvenience. We felt powerless and marginalized. For such a large mission who claimed to be acting in the will of God to have such a stance on pedophilia and physical abuse of children concerned us, to say the least. We feared for other children in NTM schools around the world. We still do.
The Fanda Eagles blog began as a response to NTM’s unwillingness to go back and find out what really happened.
Today, I am still grieved about the whole sordid ordeal. I grieve that NTM has to date still not publicly acknowledged these accusations and offered to stand with us. I feel as if we are still being treated as an inconvenience as evidenced by the corporate lethargy NTM has shown in handling these claims. I am saddened that NTM did not call this press conference immediately after the report was released on August 23 or any day since then. My colleagues and peers were not protected then or now. I grieve for the children today in NTM boarding schools around the world who do not have adequate child protection policies in place.
We call upon NTM to immediately implement all the recommendations listed in the report and to immediately launch investigations into all NTM schools where abuse was reported worldwide. We hope to see NTM not only fulfill the listed recommendations but to go above and beyond in an effort to restore trust with those children who have been hurt as a result of their inaction. We call upon NTM to adopt a stance of transparency in these matters. Transparency benefits corporate entities who have nothing to hide.
We call upon churches to read the report and begin to examine their own abuse manuals and make changes as necessary. We call upon the church to live with transparency and hold their members accountable to the same laws that the secular world lives by.
We call upon NTM to investigate the laws regarding child abuse in all countries where they operate schools and provide this information to school officials and parents.
We ask for NTM to act swiftly using their influence within the Christian world to set a precedent on how missions respond to abuse allegations. If NTM truly experiences heartfelt and organizational change, they will not be angry at the involvement of the press, but will welcome any platform to tell pedophiles that they are no longer welcome in NTM. They will stop with the secrecy that is so damaging to victims while protective to abusers.
This investigation would never have been launched had it not been for the work of the Fanda Eagles who told their stories on the fandaeagles blog. Thank you so much to my peers, our parents, the commenters on the blog, the readers and all who listened.
Statement by Barbara Dorris of SNAP, 314 503 0003
“Telling the truth is a tiny first step that, by itself, doesn’t protect the vulnerable or heal the wounded. So let’s not confuse ‘disclosure’ with ‘reform’ nor ‘recommendations’ with ‘action.’ We should all avoid the temptation to assume this report alone will ensure genuine change on the part of these church officials.”
Statement by Martha Jean Lorenzo of SNAP (727-512-1689 cell, 813-879-6290 home)
On one hand, this report, though long-overdue, is impressive. Its authors are blunt and their recommendations are sound.
On the other hand, however, a report is just words, and words alone don’t protect the vulnerable or heal the wounded. That takes action, and no one can tell whether the NTM will follow through with concrete steps and reforms.
It’s worth remembering that the NTM was prodded into commissioning this investigation by the brave, compassionate and relentless efforts of deeply wounded women and men. These are victims who, as the report says, were “shamed” and “shunned.” Today, they are heroes, each one of them.
I applaud the strength, courage and determination of Kari and her colleagues who have fought so hard and long to be heard.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests