Victims challenge new Fresno bishop on Harrison case

Victims challenge new Fresno bishop

They want him to denounce a lawyer & a priest

SNAP: “He should also tell flock how to act when accusations arise

Groups urges him to pass out their flier in all parishes

Survivors also disclose 9 publicly accused but ‘under the radar’ clerics

WHAT

Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, two clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will disclose that 9 publicly accused priests spent time in Fresno, but have mostly escaped scrutiny here.

They will also push Fresno’s bishop to

--post his own list of those accused, including nuns, deacons, priests, brothers, bishops, seminarians, and lay and volunteer workers, and

--publicly denounce a local priest and local lawyer who made insensitive remarks concerning a pending abuse case.

WHEN

Tuesday, May 7 at 12:30 PM

WHERE

On the sidewalk outside the headquarters of the Diocese of Fresno, 1550 N. Fresno St., (corner E. Carmon Ave.) in Fresno 

WHO

Two-three members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)including a survivor who is a former Bakersfield resident.

WHY

1) SNAP has discovered and is disclosing the names of, and information about, 9 publicly accused abusive clerics who have spent time in the Fresno area but have attracted little or no attention locally. 

More information about them will be posted on the SNAP website and handed out at the news conference. Some of them may still be in the Fresno area.

According to an independent on-line archive called  BishopAccountability.org, in addition to Msgr. Harrison, there are 11 publicly accused child molesting clerics from the Fresno Diocese: John "Jack" A. Bradley, Tod D. Brown, Hermy Dave O. Ceniza, James Collins, Miguel Flores, Benjamin Gabriel, Robert Gamel, Louis Aloysius Garcia, Anthony G. Herdegen, Vincent A. O'Connell and Eric Swearingen.

2) More than half of US Catholic bishops have released the names of child molesting clerics, many of them under pressure over the last few months. Just last week, the Dioceses of Sacramento and New York City did so. The first bishops began doing so 17 years ago.

The Fresno Diocese has not disclosed these names, which SNAP believes is "a long overdue, bare minimum step towards protecting children." The group wants Bishop Joseph Brennan (559-488-7400) to do so immediately, or to at least identify the still-living abusers "who likely pose a present day threat to boys and girls."

The list, SNAP says, should be permanently and prominently posted on parish websites and include the names of ALL accused child molesting church staff (nuns, priests, bishops, deacons, seminarians, monks, brothers and lay employees and volunteers). That list should also include photos, current whereabouts, full work assignments, with dates, as well as when the Diocese learned of each allegation, and when it took action, the group says.

3) When child sex abuse allegations surfaced recently against Msgr. Craig Harrison, Msgr. Perry Kavookjian publicly said he “has never, to my knowledge, done anything to bring harm to another person. ... To think that he would somehow take advantage of a minor is beyond credibility.

The monsignor's lawyer, Kyle Humphrey, "feels the diocese's call for anyone with information to come forward is like 'inviting the pigs to line up at the trough for whatever their needs are.When you blast that out you invite a lot of damaged people or people with unsuccessful lives to feel important. They need attention.'"

These remarks are wrong and hurtful. For two reasons, Bishop Brennan must publicly denounce Mr. Humphrey and publicly discipline Msgr. Kavookjian.

First, this rubs salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of thousands of victims of child molesters, whether priests, parents, relatives, scout leaders or day care providers.

Second, it impedes the criminal investigation into Msgr. Harrison because it depresses and scares victims, witnesses and whistle blowers into staying silent. “What’s the use of me calling the cops or sticking my neck out. Look at how powerful members of the community are instantly and unequivocally rallying around this accused abuser. I'm afraid of what will happen to me if I say anything.

4) Finally, SNAP wants Fresno’s bishop to circulate this document in all parishes,  What to do when your priest is accused of abuse.

CONTACT: Joey Piscitelli, SNAP California (caljoey1@aol.com, 925-262-3699), Esther Hatfield Miller, SNAP Los Angeles (562-673-9442, estherhatfield@yahoo.com), Dan McNevin, SNAP Board Member (dmcnevin@aol.com, 415-341-6417), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator, (msakoda@snapnetwork.org, 925-708-6175), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.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)


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  • Joe Charles
    commented 2019-05-08 11:03:28 -0500
    Bishop Brennan needs to be ashamed of himself. He never should have permitted the vigil for Msgr. Harrison and should muzzle the attorney. The Diocesan investigation must be conducted in a professional atmosphere of neutrality (vis a vis “blind justice”). That’s sure not the way that Bishop Brennan is allowing this matter to proceed.

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