MN--Others beside cult leader should be prosecuted
For immediate release: Sunday, March 1, 2015
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
A fugitive serial child molesting cult leader, last seen in Washington state, has been caught in Brazil. But prosecutors should also vigorously pursue those who suspected wrongdoing at his compound but kept silent about it.
News accounts quote several of Victor Barnard’s former Minnesota neighbors who said:
“I didn’t expect it to be anything good that was going on down there"
“It’s been the buzz around here [with regard to the sexual abuse allegations]”
We strongly suspect that some individuals in Washington also saw, suspected or suffered his crimes and stayed silent too.
We are appalled that these individuals - and who knows how many more - kept quiet about this. We also strongly suspect there are former Barnard cult members who could and should have called police long ago.
Anyone who knew about or suspected child sex crimes and refused to call 911 should be prosecuted and punished harshly.
There always have been and will be charismatic predators like Barnard. There’s probably little we can do to prevent them.
We can, however, help ensure they’re reported to law enforcement after their third crime, not their 33rd crime. The way to do that is simple: throw the book at those who stay silent in the face of known or suspected child sex crimes.
When will people finally realize that they should trust their instincts and call the police when anything unusual seems to be happening to or with children? When will people finally start erring on the side of acting responsibly instead of acting timidly? When will people finally understand that where there's smoke, there very often is indeed fire? And when will people finally understand that we need not wait to see fire before calling police but should call police when we first see smoke.
It’s not too late. We call on each and every one person – in Washington, Minnesota, Brazil or anywhere - who saw or heard or experienced unusual behavior at Barnard’s compound to contact law enforcement officials immediately.
Barnard has been charged with dozens of counts of sexually assaulting young woman and girls. We commend the brave victims who have come forward and to law enforcement for tirelessly working to find this dangerous predator. But they need help, the help of witnesses, whistleblowers and other victims.
So we hope anyone who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Barnard will immediately call police. It is never too late to report the truth and help protect other children and vulnerable adults.
(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 15,000 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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Frank Meuers of Plymouth MN (952-334-5180, firstname.lastname@example.org), Verne Wagner of Duluth MN (218-340-1277, email@example.com)