The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, February 24, 2011
Statement regarding Fr. Gerald Wertz
We are clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our mission is to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable. We’re here today for three reasons.
First, we’re here to warn the public about a child molesting cleric, Fr. Gerald Wertz, who committed child sex crimes as a teacher and counselor at a Catholic school in Los Angeles but is now believed to be living at the Salesian Provincial Residence in San Francisco, a block away from the 1,100+ students at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory.
As recently as 2006, five of the eight Salesians holding positions of responsibility at this provincial house were also accused child molesters. http://www.sfweekly.com/2006-01-04/news/house-of-the-accused/
We urge Catholics and citizens to keep their kids away from Wertz. We urge his current and former church and school colleagues and those who live near him now to speak up and call the police if they see, suspect or hear of any in appropriate behavior by Wertz. When victims, witnesses and whistleblowers remain silent, kids remain at risk and predators remain free. But when victims, witnesses and whistleblowers speak up, at least there’s a chance for healing, justice and prevention.
Second, we’re here because the new lawsuit charges that “for more than 50 years,” the Salesians have “facilitated the sexual molestation of vulnerable children and covered up for their child molesters once abuse was known.” It names 22 other proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting California Salesian clerics.
We want Salesian officials to put their child molesting clerics in remote, secure, independently-run treatment centers for sex offenders, so that kids will be safer.
Third, we’re here because we want San Francisco’s archbishop to use his vast resources to reach out to anyone who might have been hurt by Wertz.
We know all the excuses: the Salesians are separate, they don’t report to the archbishop, Wertz isn’t on the archdiocesan payroll, bla bla bla. But these are, indeed, just excuses. There’s a chance Wertz molested a San Francisco Catholic child. There’s a chance Wertz might be prosecuted someday. There’s a chance Wertz might molest a San Francisco Catholic child in the future. So San Francisco’s archbishop has a duty to act to safeguard his flock.
Fourth, we’re here because we want to urge everyone with information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes to be strong and brave enough to come forward, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing. Staying silent helps no one. Speaking up is the first step toward helping others and helping yourself.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests