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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yakima priest suspended in child sex case, SNAP responds

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)

Once again, a Catholic priest fails to call 911 about a child sex abuse report.

Once again, a Yakima priest says nothing about a child sex abuse case and Yakima’s bishop says nothin too, until contacted by the media.

Those repeated promises by Catholic officials to put the safety of kids first and to be “open” about child sex cases are clearly just insincere public relations gestures.

We call on Bishop Carlos Sevilla to send a strong signal by severely disciplining Fr. Milich. No matter what Sevilla’s hand-picked panel may or may not recommend, Milich clearly violated his civic and moral duty, and for months, enabled a credibly accused child molesting cleric to be near kids. This kind of callousness and recklessness by Catholic employees will never stop unless it is severely punished.

We hope that anyone who saw, suspected or suffered Fitz-Henry’s crimes will come forward. It’s crucial that no one get complacent and assume he’ll be convicted and jailed. In fact, many times, child predators get terrific lawyers and exploit legal loopholes and escape responsibility or get light sentences. So it’s important that anyone with information about Fitz-Henry call police and prosecutors immediately.

It’s also important that anyone else who may have confided in Milich about known or suspected child molesters come forward. We fear this isn’t the only case in which Milich put the well-being of his brother priests above the safety of children.

It’s rare for a child molester to strike just once or twice. So we strongly suspect there are others who were assaulted by Fitz-Henry who are still suffering in shame, silence and self-blame. We urge Catholic officials in California to aggressively seek out other victims and prod them to contact law enforcement.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 10,000 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, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2011/02/22/priest-from-yakima-suspended-in-california

Priest from Yakima suspended in California

By Jane Gargas - Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A priest from the Catholic Diocese of Yakima has been suspended from duties while on a long-term assignment in California.

The Rev. Nicholas Milich is being disciplined by the Diocese of Monterey, Calif., because he didn't report sex-abuse allegations made against another priest.

Milich has been working in Monterey for two years while on loan from the Yakima Diocese so he could be closer to his elderly parents who live in the area.

Locally, Milich, 62, served in Richland, at Holy Redeemer Church in Yakima and in Ephrata, which was his last assignment here.

The Rev. Robert Siler, chief of staff for the Yakima Diocese, said that the Monterey bishop suspended Milich last Friday for failing to report to either the diocese or the police that a parishioner told him that he had been molested by the Rev. Edward Fitz-Henry.

The alleged victim came to Milich about two months ago, saying that he had been molested by Fitz-Henry several times in 2005 when he was 14 and serving as an altar boy.

According to Siler, Milich told the Monterey bishop that he didn't report the incident because the young man is an adult and that he already had contacted a lawyer.

However, the alleged victim was a minor at the time of the incident, which the Monterey Diocese considers a mandatory reporting issue.

Police in Monterey are now investigating the young man's allegations, which Fitz-Henry has denied.

The Yakima Diocese also requires staff and volunteers to report to diocesan authorities or to the police any allegations of clergy sex abuse of a minor.

Washington state does not require clerics to report abuse allegations, but the diocese here has written that requirement into its clergy sex abuse policy.

Yakima Bishop Carlos Sevilla has spoken with Milich, but it is unclear whether the priest has asked to return to Yakima.

If Milich does ask to come back, Siler said that the lay advisory board would be consulted on how to proceed. Siler said that the diocese would take steps to make sure, in the event that Milich does return, that he clearly understands the sex abuse policies here.

"What he did was certainly not malicious, but it was a serious error in judgment," Siler said.

He also added that Milich, who was ordained nearly nine years ago, was a well-respected priest here.

"He's one of the kindest persons I know," Siler said.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
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