Victims want new bishop to "come clean"
He was allegedly told about a predator in 2002
SNAP asks prelate: “What did you do then, what are you doing now?”
They urge El Paso's prelate to explain his role in a clergy sex abuse case
And victims also seek names of all child molesting clerics on church website
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging El Paso’s new Catholic bishop to explain involvement in a predator priest case and to post on diocesan website the names of “proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests.”
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests are writing Bishop Mark Seitz about a Kentucky predator priest, Fr. James Hargadon who was convicted of molesting boys.
In 2002, Hargadon was sued by John Kaelin of Waxahachie, Texas, who says the cleric molested him as a child in 1974 at a cabin in Rough River.
Kaelin also said that he reported the abuse to Seitz in 1990 when Seitz was a parish priest.
"If you are to earn the trust of new flock, you must show - by deeds, not words - that you are capable of breaking from the long-standing hurtful patterns of secrecy that most of colleagues are still trapped today," SNAP says in letter.
“You can, of course, ignore case and your role in it," SNAP's letter says. "But by doing so, you will merely heap more pain on the already wounded and still suffering clergy abuse victims and on the already betrayed and still suffering Catholics.”
On Bishop Seitz’ first day in El Paso, SNAP wants him alert parishioners and the public about credibly accused clerics in diocese, like former Cathedral High School principal Stephen Furches, who accused of sexually assaulted an El Paso child in the 1980s.
Even before that, however, SNAP wants to know what, if any, action Seitz took when he was told by John Kaelin about Fr. Hargadon’s abuse in the 1970s.
The group is also cautioning El Paso’s Catholics to “resist temptation complacency” as the leadership of the diocese changes.
“Whenever a Catholic official is promoted, it’s tempting to be hopeful. When it comes to clergy sex crimes and cover ups, often Catholics assume that the new guy will be better than the old guy,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s executive director. “But that’s a reckless assumption. Complacency protects no one. Only vigilance protects kids.”
He urges El Paso Catholics to “be skeptical about Seitz. Judge him by his deeds, not his words, and by his performance, not his promises. And see whether he ignores acts on our request to explain his role in the Fr. Hargadon case.”
SNAP also hopes “that every single person who witnessed, suspected or suffered clergy sex and cover ups in El Paso will find the courage and strength to step forward, call police, protect kids, expose corruption and start,” Clohessy said. “And we hope they’ll contact secular authorities, not church officials.”
A photo Hargadon and a list of where he worked available at BishopAccountability.org
A copy of SNAP’s letter, sent today by email and fax, is below:
May 23, 2013
Dear Bishop Seitz:
Congratulations on your promotion. Before you formally are installed as El Paso’s new bishop, however, we hope u will publicly explain your role in the disturbing case of a twice convicted predator priest. And once u are installed, we hope u will put the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics on your diocesan and parish websites.
As you likely know, Fr. James Hargadon was sued at least four times by men who say he abused them when they were altar boys. Because of these accusations. Fr. Hargadon was suspended from active ministry. In 2004, he was convicted of abuse twice, receiving separate eight year sentences in two counties.
And as the Louisville Courier Journal has reported, you were told about Fr. Hargadon’s crimes by one of his victims.
The question is: What did you do when you learned this information? And what did you do with it years later, in and after 2002, when Catholic officials promised to be “open and transparent” about clergy sex crimes? You owe it to your flock in El Paso to “come clean” about this.
The Courier Journal article disclosing your knowledge of Fr. Hargadon’s abuse is 11 years old. So you’ve had ample time to seek a clarification or a correction if the newspaper was wrong in any way. You’ve had plenty of opportunities to explain your actions or inaction. As best we can tell, you’ve said nothing about this troubling situation.
But now you are a bishop. Now, you will have more authority and involvement in clergy sex cases. Now, your honesty is more crucial than ever.
Please, we beg u, come clean about these troubling questions now – clearly and publicly.
We are also calling on you to permanently post - on your diocesan website, your diocesan newspaper, and in your parish bulletins – the names of all proven, admitted and credibly accused El Paso area child molesting clerics.
This is one of the simplest, quickest and cheapest ways to keep kids safe. It is, we believe, the bare minimum every bishop should do, especially every newly-promoted bishop.
You will recall that Pope Benedict instructed bishops to “do everything possible” to help victims heal. Exposing the truth in this way is very healing to victims.
Even more important, revealing the names of predator priests is a public safety move. It enables families to better safeguard their children when parents know who and where dangerous and potentially dangerous individuals are.
As u know, bishops recruit, educate, ordain, train and often transfer and protect child molesting clerics, again. At least some of the 14 publicly accused El Paso predator priests would be in jail had not their crimes been concealed for years and years by church officials. Given these facts, we believe u have a moral and civic duty to be more forthcoming about these men than your predecessors have been.
Roughly 30 US bishops have posted such names of their predator priests, usually after considerable public pressure. As best we can tell, not one of those bishops has expressed regret for having done so.
So for the safety of kids and the healing of victims, we urge you to make the names and whereabouts of these clerics easily found on line, especially by unsuspecting neighbors, families and employers.
We look forward to hearing from you. Tks.
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
David Clohessy of St. Louis, Executive Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com