Victims blast Spgfld-Cape Girardeau diocese
Victims blast Spgfld-Cape Girardeau diocese
Seven accused clerics missing from its list, group says
SNAP begs those who “saw, suspected or suffered abuse” to speak up
It specifically urges victims, witnesses & whistleblowers to call MO AG
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, a clergy sex abuse victim and advocate will prod southern Missouri Catholic officials to
--add seven more names to their official list of “credibly accused” priests and
--blast them for their secrecy about abuse and cover ups.
They’ll also urge those who “saw suspected or suffered” abuse to “call police and get help.”
Wednesday, January 16 at 10 a.m.
On the sidewalk outside the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Annunciation, 615 William Street in Cape Girardeau
WHOTwo abuse victims: a St. Louis man who is theSt. Louis volunteer leader of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (and the organization's former long time executive director) and a Chicago man who is the group’s Chicago volunteer leader
In October, the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Catholic diocese added the names of three "credibly accused" priests to its list: Fr. John Brath, Msgr. John Rynish and Fr. Fred Lutz.
But the diocesan list does not include the names of seven other clerics accused of abuse who spent time in southern Missouri, mostly in parishes and other church settings:
--Fr. John Edward Ruhl, who was sued in October for abuse. He worked at St. Mary's Seminary in Perryville and St. Vincent's College in Cape Girardeau.
--Fr. John “Jack” V. Farris, who was sued for child sexual abuse in California and worked for St. Mary's Seminary and Christ the Savior Church in Perryville and the Evangelization Center in Cape Girardeau.
--Fr. Thomas Gregory Meyer, who lived in Belleville IL as recently as 2012. In 2017, his name was added to the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese list of clerics with “substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor." Meyer worked in Mansfield MO
--Fr. James Vincent Fitzgerald, who lived in Belleville until 2009 and worked in Ava, Mansfield and Gainesville and at two orphanages. He’s accused of abusing several boys and one girl. In 2015, one of his victims was awarded $8.1 million by a jury.
--Fr. Michael Charland, who is accused of abusing boys, including a teenager in confession. In 2015, his supervisors disclosed his name along with other clerics as “credibly accused” of abuse. He was a psychologist in the Twin Cities area in 2015.Charland attended seminary at Our Lady of the Ozarks in Carthage.
--Fr. John G. O'Flaherty, who worked in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Monett MO. He was accused of abuse in a 2011 civil lawsuit filed in Colorado.
---Msgr. Thomas J. O’Brien, who worked in Springfield but reportedly abused dozens of kids in Kansas City.
Ruhl and Farris are/were members of the St. Louis-based Vincentian order. Meyer, Fitzgerald and Charland are/were members of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. (firstname.lastname@example.org,1-888-330-6264). O'Flaherty was a member of the Society of Jesus (“Jesuits”).
Since these seven priests all belonged to religious orders and were not diocesan priests, it seems that Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocesn hierarchy does not believe it is responsible for order priests within its territory. That’s a technicality, SNAP contends. What matters, the group says, is that these priests worked in diocesan churches with diocesan staff and around diocesan kids, all of which are under the control of the diocesan bishop. SNAP notes that Jefferson City Bishop Shawn McKnight and other bishops included religious order clerics on their lists.
As head of the diocese, Bishop Edward M. Rice should “aggressively seek out others who may have seen, suspected or suffered” crimes by these clerics,” share that information with law enforcement and offer help to the wounded,” SNAP says.
Photos of all but Meyer and O'Flaherty can be found in the links above. Meyer and O'Flaherty are deceased, as are Farris and Fitzgerald.
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.