Victims want local PA county prosecutors to take action on Catholic abuse
For immediate release, August 17, 2018
Statement by Tim Lennon, President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (415-312-5820, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org)
Just this week, a grand jury concluded that thousands of clergy sex abuse victims in Pennsylvania have yet to come forward. And separately, a judge ruled that serial abuser Harvey Weinstein can be sued - through an innovative use of a federal sex-trafficking law - even though most of his alleged crimes fall outside the statute of limitations.
These facts should be a wakeup call for all Pennsylvania law enforcement officials that it's very likely possible more legal action can be taken against Catholic officials.
It's another reminder that "where there's a will, there's a way," perhaps especially in pursuing sexual predators and their enablers. We believe that if police and prosecutors are more assertive and creative, even under Pennsylvania's out-of-date predator-friendly laws, they can find novel ways to pursue those who commit or conceal assaults on children.
We applaud Attorney General Josh Shapiro, his staff and secular officials in Philadelphia and elsewhere who have used grand juries to shine sorely-needed light on long-hidden church secrets.
We also believe that more can and should be done by law enforcement at the county level to go after these wrongdoers. With thousands of police, prosecutors and victims in Pennsylvania, we find it very hard to believe that not a single complicit current or former church official who concealed child sex crimes can now be charged with obstruction, fraud, perjury, destroying evidence, intimidating witnesses, endangering children, or similar offenses.
Again, where there's a will, there's a way. Remember: Al Capone was nailed for income tax evasion. And prosecutors in recent years have developed new techniques for going after gangs and white-collar crimes.
And finally, as always, we renew our call on legislators to help deter crimes and cover ups by enacting a civil "window" that will enable victims to expose molesters and their allies in court. This is the single most effective step Pennsylvania politicians can take to make an immediate difference in this crisis.
NOTE: At the federal level, SNAP is working with the Center for Constitutional Rights to prod the US Justice Department to open a nationwide probe into the church's continuing scandal.
And at the state level, SNAP is urging its 25,000 survivors and supporters and concerned citizens, to contact state attorneys general outside Pennsylvania, urging those officials to also empanel grand juries or similar investigative bodies in their jurisdictions.
SNAP has a fact sheet about other innovative legal moves to suggest for civil society, community, county prosecutors, newspapers. See: http://www.snapnetwork.org/blog
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - Tim Lennon (415-312-5820, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org); Judy Jones (636-433-2511, email@example.com), Becky Ianni (703-801-6044, firstname.lastname@example.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.