Vermont Diocese to Release “Some” Names, SNAP Responds
Catholic officials from the Diocese of Vermont have announced today that they will release “some” names of priests accused of sexual abuse.
We are glad that Bishop Christopher Coyne is choosing to take this step, but given how it was announced we have little faith that this is a full and transparent release. We do not understand the decision to release the names of only some of the priests accused of abuse, nor do we understand why it has taken years for the Diocese of Vermont to take this very simple, easy step. We do understand, however, that this is yet another example of why independent investigations by outside law enforcement are so critical to getting to the truth.
If these lists are to carry any weight, they should be determined by independent investigators, not any committee empaneled by and for the church. Trained law enforcement professionals should be in charge of investigating who knew what, when they knew it, and what a credible accusation of abuse looks like. As we have recently seen in Buffalo, we cannot count on church officials to be forthcoming, and Bishop Coyne has already promised that he will be holding some information back.
We hope that citizens in Vermont will call on their attorney general and local prosecuting attorneys to follow in the footsteps of Pennsylvania and twelve other states by immediately launching an aggressive, independent investigation. And we also hope that when Bishop Coyne does release the names, that he will also put by each name the date when the Diocese first learned of the allegation against that priest. We believe that these lists should be permanently and prominently posted on Diocesan and parish websites and should include the current or last known address of each accused person – whether living or dead, religious order or diocesan, along with accused seminarians, bishops, nuns, brothers and lay employees.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. 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.
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.