WA--Yakima predator priests may be listed this month
For immediate release - Monday, March 7, 2016
A few weeks ago, Yakima Catholic officials said they MIGHT post names of predator priests on a church website this month. (Last week, a Pennsylvania bishop pledged to do this too.)
This move is long overdue. It’s the quickest, easiest way to warn parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners and the public about predator priests. It’s the very least bishops should do, since they recruited, educated, ordained, hired, trained, transferred and shielded these predators for years, often helping them evade prosecution by keeping their crimes secret until the statute of limitations expired.
Over the past dozen years or so, more than 30 US bishops have released such lists. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm
In January, the Seattle Catholic archdiocese released a list of 77 child molesting clerics who worked there.
That same month, the Yakima Republic reported that Yakima church officials may do the same thing in March.
On Thursday, the Altoona bishop promised to post predators’ names.
North Dakota bishops, however, recently refused to do this.
But for the safety of kids and the healing of victims, every Catholic bishop should make these disclosures.
Only 13 Yakima predators have been exposed, compared with 77 in Seattle, 41 in Spokane and 50 in Montana and 11 in Idaho (according to the independent website BishopAccountability.org). It’s sad that families just across the border from North Dakota are arguably safer from predator priests than families that are in North Dakota.
So we hope Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson will find the courage to do what he knows is right: protecting the vulnerable, healing the wounded and exposing the truth by posting predators’ names on parish and diocesan websites.
In a stunning cop-out, Yakima attorney Russell Mazzola, head of the Yakima church abuse panel, says that the names of accused local child molesting clerics have already appeared in the Yakima Herald-Republic.
So what? The fact that other organization has, over years, listed Yakima predator priests doesn’t absolve Yakima church officials of their duty to do likewise. Listing these sex offenders in two places doubles the chances that parents, police, prosecutors, relatives, neighbors and potential employers will learn of their horrific crimes and safeguard kids from them.
Finally, no matter what church officials do or don’t do, we hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by or cover ups by Catholic officials will find the strength to speak up, expose wrongdoers and protect kids. And we urge them to call secular authorities like police, prosecutors or independent sources of help like therapists and support groups, not church officials. And we call on legislators to repeal predator-friendly statutes of limitations, so victims of childhood violence can use the open, time-tested US justice system to expose predators and safeguard youngsters, again, no matter what church officials do or don’t do.
(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.
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.