WA- Abuse victims settle but more must be done, SNAP says
For immediate release: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Thirty brave child sex victims have settled their abuse and cover up suits against Seattle Catholic officials. We applaud these courageous and determined individuals and suspect that there are dozens more victims in the Seattle area – from these two parochial schools and other schools – who remain trapped in silence, shame and self-blame.
We hope this settlement will encourage them to step forward, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.
It's tough for any abuse victim to speak up. But it's especially tough when the perpetrator is a powerful religious figure. And it's especially tough to report abuse in Catholic schools. The classes tend to be closely knit, so many victims fear that if they speak up, others will find out who they are and what happened to them. And many who graduate from Catholic high schools carry a mass of confusing feelings. On one hand, they are convinced they got a good education and they're grateful for it. On the other hand, they know they should never have been assaulted. But deep loyalty to their alma mater is one added factor that keeps many Catholic school victims quiet.
We are grateful these 30 individuals have worked so hard and long to hold complicit church officials accountable for their reckless actions. It's a shame that Catholic officials drag these cases out for years, but we appreciate the persistence of these victims who have suffered so much for so long.
Paying reparations is not enough however. Seattle Catholic officials should aggressively reach out to anyone else who was hurt and is likely still hurting. Archbishop Peter Sartain should visit every parish or school where a predator worked begging witnesses, whistleblowers and victims to come forward, report to police and start healing.
He should also, for the safety of kids, post the names of all credibly accused clerics in parish bulletins and church website.
Finally, one of the child molesting clerics involved in this settlement is Br. Edward Courtney. He is accused of abusing more than 50 children across the country and now lives in Hawaii. Seattle officials helped him in getting a job in a public school.
Catholic officials can't dodge their responsibility here. They recruited, educated, ordained, trained, hired, and supervised Br. Courtney. Then they hid and enabled his crimes. They have a duty now to warn Hawaii citizens and Catholics about him, in every way possible: parish bulletins, website notices and pulpit announcements. Anything less is continued callousness and selfishness.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have 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.