Victims ask US bishops to censure CA colleague
Clergy sex abuse victims are urging America’s Catholic bishops to denounce San Diego's top church official for restoring a priest to ministry barely a month after he pled guilty to molesting a teenage parishioner.
In a letter sent today to the prelates, leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, express concern about Fr. Jose Alexis Davila of San Diego. In April, he pled guilty to battery for groping a then-19-year-old parishioner at her home. He was given three years’ probation. A month later, San Diego Bishop Robert Brom quietly put Davila back into active parish ministry at St. Jude’s Catholic Church.
“It’s hard to imagine a more reckless move,” said Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, Western Regional Director of SNAP. “This basically sends the message that you can assault teenagers and go unpunished.”
According to a press release last week from the Diocese of San Diego, officials there “have no reason to believe that women or children are at a risk because of [Davila’s] return to ministry.”
Leaders of SNAP argue instead that his conviction shows that Davila is still a threat. They also believe that the decision to put Davila back into a parish so soon after being convicted of a sex crime flies in the face of the bishops’ sex abuse policy, and are hoping that other members of the church hierarchy will recognize the problem and work to fix it.
“A decade ago, America’s bishops pledged to ‘correct’ each other when clergy sex cases were mishandled,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director. “That’s what we want to see here. If wrongdoing is ignored, wrongdoing is encouraged. So we’re hoping that – formally or informally – at least a few bishops will be brave enough to publicly say ‘The San Diego Catholic hierarchy is acting irresponsibly.’”
America’s bishops hold their semi-annual meeting this week. They are scheduled to discuss their ten-year old national abuse policy. SNAP wants that policy “radically revamped” to include penalties for “church officials who “ignore, hid and enable child sex crimes.”
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.