VT--Abusive seminarian is sentenced; Victims respond
For immediate release: Friday, July 1, 2016
A former Catholic seminarian from Vermont who tried to arrange to sexually abuse babies was just sentenced, but the crux and cause of his crimes has basically been ignored - a secretive, self-serving clerical culture that gives troubled clerics repeated chances to hurt kids.
Joel A. Wright, a Vermont native, spent time in Kentucky and Ohio. Today, a San Diego judge decided Wright will be locked up for 188 months and be supervised for life. We are glad he’ll always be monitored by the secular justice system and not purportedly monitored by his church colleagues.
Over 40 seminaries rejected Wright. But because so few men want to become priests, church officials – including Steubenville's Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, Columbus's Bishop Frederick F. Campbell and Josephinum seminary staff - recklessly rolled the dice on him. In the most narrow and selfish sense, their gamble paid off: none of them are experiencing any consequences for their irresponsible actions.
And sadly, none of them are aggressively reaching out to others who may have knowledge of or suspicions about other crimes by Wright.
Let's hope that Vermont Bishop Christopher Coyne, and his colleagues in Columbus and Steubenville, will use pulpit announcements, parish bulletins and church websites to do what they should have done long ago – do outreach to others who may be suffering from Wright’s wrongdoing.
No matter what church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.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.