Survivors and Supporters Demand Investigations in Every State
For immediate release: August 22, 2018
For more information: Tim Lennon, SNAP President, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org, 415-312-5820
Victims & advocates urge more investigations into church
Groups wants every state attorney general to "act now"
"Exposing cover ups will prevent more cover ups," SNAP says
Even if no charges are brought, groups say kids will be safer
We find in Pennsylvania that the church hierarchy will only report child sex abuse by when forced to clergy when forced to by outside agencies like a grand jury. We are outraged at the new information of historic and systematic sexual abuse of children
Therefore, we are urging survivors and supporters to demand every state’s attorney general follow Pennsylvania's lead and launch formal investigations into how US bishops deal with victims and predator priests.
"These probes protect kids by exposing those who commit and conceal abuse. They help victims heal and make institutions safer. And they deter similar reckless and callous behavior in the future," said Tim Lennon, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
At least ten US jurisdictions, mostly county prosecutors from New York to Ohio, have used grand juries to investigate charges against child molesting clerics and their supervisors. Most have issued scathing reports that are highly critical of the church hierarchy.
At least two states, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, empaneled similar, statewide investigations. New Hampshire law enforcement officials won a five-year commitment from the Diocese of Manchester to allow AG oversight as to how the diocese dealt with abuse.
Governmental bodies in Australia and Ireland have completed probes as well ending with detailed reports being made public.
SNAP says the findings, in nearly every case, are "almost identical," and conclude that church officials time and time again put protecting clergy ahead of protecting kids.
"Catholic officials themselves estimate that 100,000 US children have been violated by priests," said Lennon. "But only a handful of complicit church hierarchy have ever been prosecuted. That's a tragedy and that's why these devastating crimes keep happening." (Lynn in Philly, Finn in MO, and Wilson in Australia)
"Archaic statutes of limitations and other predator-friendly laws enable church officials to ignore and hide credible abuse reports and to evade prosecution," said Melanie Sakoda, also of SNAP. "Until these laws are reformed, grand jury reports are a terrific tool for cutting through the dangerous secrecy that still shrouds child sex crimes in the church."
"Kids are safest when predators and enablers are jailed. But when that can't happen, kids are safer when predators and enablers are publicly exposed," said Lennon. "Nothing does this better than an impartial investigation by professionals in law enforcement."
SNAP is notifying the 25,000 survivors and supporters of its network and asking them to contact their attorney general and demand a grand jury in their state.
"It's time that everyone who cares about kids turn their attention to prodding secular authorities instead of church figures," Lennon stressed. "And who better to safeguard kids than each state's top law enforcement official?"
In addition to this initiative with state attorneys general, SNAP and Center for Constitutional Rights (CCRJustice.org) wrote an open letter to the Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein at the Department of Justice calling for a nationwide investigation into historic and systematic abuse of children. This letter says the “Department of Justice must step up and conduct a thorough, full-scale investigation into this system-wide network of sexual violence and cover-up.”
SNAP will also ask the survivors and supporters in their database to write letters to the DOJ.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - Tim Lennon (415-312-5820, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org); Melanie Sakoda, (925) 708-6175 firstname.lastname@example.org, Becky Ianni (703-801-6044, email@example.com)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.