Victims battle gag order
In a new court filing, a support group for clergy sex abuse victims is asking a Kansas City judge to let its director talk about a six hour deposition he was forced by church defense lawyers to give this week.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) formally asked Judge Anne Mesle to revise an order she handed down on Tuesday. It prohibits SNAP director David Clohessy from talking about the questioning he faced by lawyers for KC Bishop Robert Finn and for several accused pedophile priests.
“Kids are safer when victims, witnesses, journalists and advocates can speak and write freely about clergy sex crimes and cover ups and the tactics of Catholic officials in these cases,” said SNAP’s founder Barbara Blaine of Chicago.
SNAP leaders say this is the first time in the organization’s 23 year history any of its staff has ever been ordered to turn over records, or denied its ability to speak publicly.
Mesle’s order arises from the case of John Doe BP who is suing Fr. Michael Tierney and the KC diocese for alleged child sex abuse.
Defense lawyers are demanding potentially thousands of pages of SNAP’s records, going back 23 years, about every KC priest, accused of abuse or not. And earlier this week, St. Louis defense lawyers subpoenaed another SNAP staffer, Barbara Dorris, with a nearly identical demand for the group’s documents. That subpoena arises from a child sex abuse and cover up case called Jane Doe v. Fr. Joseph D. Ross and the St. Louis archdiocese.
SNAP is represented by Jeff Jensen of St. Louis (314 725 3939). John Doe BP, the plaintiff in the case, is represented by Rebecca Randles of Kansas City (816 931 9901). The diocese is represented by Chad Blomberg and Jon Hayden of KC. Tierney is represented by Brian Madden of KC.
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.