TX- El Paso priest charged with sex offense, Victims react
For immediate release: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
A retired Catholic priest who lives in El Paso and has worked at St. Raphael's parish in El Paso has been charged with criminal sexual contact.
Fr. Philip Briganti allegedly assaulted a man after a wedding in New Jersey.
We hope that this was an isolated incidence. We doubt that's true. In 2005, according to the Observer-Tribune, Fr. Briganti suddenly left his Mendham, NJ parish after someone apparently tried to extort money from him for photos he sent over the internet, according to Mendham NJ police Lt. John Taylor.
Paterson Catholic officials claim they immediately called prosecutors when they learned about the recent charge. We hope that's true.
And we hope that El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz and Paterson Bishop Arthur Joseph Serratelli will use their vast resources to reach out to anyone else who might have been hurt by Fr. Briganti. We encourage anyone who saw, suspects or suffered abuse to report to law enforcement, not to church officials.
We also hope that Bishop Seitz doesn't “pass the buck” or split hairs, claiming that Fr. Briganti isn't his responsibility. We strongly suspect that Fr. Briganti has used his title to gain access to kids in El Paso too and has at the very least performed priestly duties on a substitute basis in Texas.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 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)
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.
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.