TX – SNAP weighs in on testimony in trial of former priest accused of murder

TX – SNAP weighs in on testimony in trial of former priest accused of murder

For immediate release Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Statement by Melanie Sakoda of California, Volunteer Member of SNAP’s Board of Directors (925-708-6175melanie.sakoda@gmail.com)

Three women who knew John Feit more than half a century ago, when he was still an active clergyman, testified to disturbing behavior by him as his trial for the murder of Irene Garza continued. Ms. Garza, a young and beautiful female parishioner, reportedly went to the former priest for confession before her death. According to the three women’s descriptions, Father Feit was “anything but priest-like.”

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2017/12/02/witnesses-describe-odd-behavior-former-hidalgo-county-priest-accused-beauty-queen-murder

As survivors, we are familiar with the practice of judging a priest by his collar instead of his character. Often, when people come forward saying that a clergyman is not living in accord with his priestly image, these observations are automatically discounted.

This appears to have one of the things that happened in this case. Shortly after the assault on America Guerra, to which the priest pleaded no contest and paid a fine, Cleotilde "Tilly" Sanchez received a call from a man telling her that she was “next.” Ms. Sanchez identified Father Feit as that man to police, but she was told by Church officials that she was “mistaken.”  

We commend all the witnesses who have come forward in this case, and we applaud Texas authorities for pursuing this prosecution. Whether or not Mr. Feit is ultimately found guilty or not, the fact that he is on trial for Ms. Garza’s murder is a victory for all the survivors and witnesses who have persisted in telling their truths. 

Thankfully, it appears that the tide has turned and priests are no longer being given a pass simply because of their vocation. We encourage anyone who has experienced, witnessed or suspected crimes by clergy to take advantage of this sea change and make a report to law enforcement.

(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 members. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org) 

CONTACT

Melanie Sakoda 925-708-6175 melanie.sakoda@gmail.com, Joelle Casteix 949-322-7434jcasteix@gmail.com, or Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Executive Director (314-503-0003bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)

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