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Former FBI Child Sex Abuse Expert on What Parents Should Know About “Grooming”

Sunday, August 07, 2022 GoLocalProv News Team   Photo: FBI file A former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) expert on child abuse — and “grooming” — said there are a number of steps parents can take if they have concerns their children could be in danger.    On Monday, GoLocal unveiled that priest Eric Silva had been reassigned to a Narragansett church after being removed from two other churches earlier in the year for asking children "inappropriate questions" about sex. On Friday, amidst mounting pressure, Tobin announced he was rescinding Silva's appointment to the parish.  GET THE LATEST BREAKING NEWS HERE -- SIGN UP FOR GOLOCAL FREE DAILY EBLAST Kenneth Lanning, who was a special agent with the FBI for more than 30 years and has worked as a consultant in the area of crimes against children, said that while some behaviors of adults interacting with children might not rise to the level of criminality, there are steps parents can take if they believe their child is potentially being “groomed” for abuse.  Moreover — he has published both books and research on the steps that organizations that work with children need to take to keep children safe.  “Many effective parental responses to suspected sexual victimization are easy to say but hard to do. The most important thing parents can do is, starting when they are young, establish open communication on diverse topics with their children. Communicate love and caring,” Lanning told GoLocal.  “Openly and honestly communicate with their child without inferring blame. Parents know their children well but often are not objective. Their own religious belief may even get in the way with a priest,” Lanning continued. “Depending on why their child is in close contact with the priest, the best approach may be to find ways to limit their alone contact. A child has a right to respectfully express discomfort with behavior that is not a crime. Start soft, move to hard if necessary.” According to parents, Silva asked male children if they were gay and accused them of lying if they said no. And, Silva reportedly asked females were asked if they were sexually active and, according to reports, similarly accused of lying if they answered in the negative. He made the comments when he was offering confession. Tobin said at the time, “I have asked Fr. Silva to take this period of leave as an opportunity to reflect on these priestly responsibilities and to engage in additional formation.” Silva has now been removed from three parishes -- and Tobin has refused to say what Silva's future is in the church.  Lanning -- who was the 1996 recipient of the Outstanding Professional Award from the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, the 1997 recipient of the FBI Director’s Annual Award for Special Achievement for his career accomplishments in connection with missing and exploited children, and the 2009 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Service from the National Children’s Advocacy Center --- said if parents do not believe the organization’s response is sufficient enough, there are steps they should take.  “When institutions that are designed to protect your children don't actually do so, parents need to try to be objective and find creative ways to limit contact. In order to be involved in simultaneous sexual relations with multiple victims, a pedophile must know how to manipulate and control children,” said Lanning. “The pedophile uses seduction techniques, competition, peer pressure, child and group psychology, motivation techniques, threats, and blackmail. The pedophile must continuously recruit children into and move children out of the ring without his activity being disclosed. Part of the manipulation process is lowering the inhibitions of the children. A skilled pedophile who can get children into a situation where they must change clothing or stay with him overnight will almost always succeed in seducing them.” VIEW LARGER + Bishop Tobin Organizational Accountability    Lanning also discussed what organizations that work with children need to do when allegations arise.  The four most important protection practices for organizations are screening; management, and supervision; response to suspicions, allegations, and complaints; and prevention and awareness programs, wrote Lanning in the 2014 publication, “Acquaintance molestation and youth-serving organizations.” One problematic area, said Lanning, is when organizations utilized their own “experts” to determine whether an adult who has been accused of inappropriate behavior can remain in the organization.  “These organizations need to have rules and monitoring,” Lanning told GoLocal. “The other big problem is they decide to go out and get their own opinion. They might get a sexual abuse expert — but oftentimes those ‘experts’ don’t really understand these cases involving an acquaintance molester, someone who the child knows who they are.” “How is the offender able to access the child — that’s what grooming is all about,” says Lanning. “It starts young, and they get better and better.” Related Articles Tobin Rescinds Priest Assignment After GoLocal Report Tobin Should Have Police Investigate Reassigned Priest, Says Top Lawyer for Church Sex Abuse Victims Providence Priest Arrested for Child Porn by RI State Police Former RI Catholic Priest Indicted on 11 Counts of Child Molestation RI Priest Faces Up to 20 Years in Federal Prison on Charges of Receiving & Distributing Child Porn Former RI Priest Strips Worcester’s Nativity School’s Catholic Ties Over Gay Pride & BLM Flags Former Catholic Diocese of Providence Priest Indicted for Sexual Assault Priest Who Worked at St. Joseph’s School Suspended by Fall River Diocese After Sex Abuse Allegations NEW: Providence Diocese Suspends Priest for Sexual Misconduct

Department of Justice Announces Investigation Into The Southern Baptist Convention

(For Immediate Release August 12, 2022)  According to an Aug. 12 statement from all SBC entity leaders and SBC President Bart Barber, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has been told that the US Department of Justice has launched an investigation against the SBC that would cover "many SBC institutions." We welcome this news, it is something SNAP has long called for. The Department of Justice has given survivors around the nation hope with today's news. Too frequently, institutions are able to avoid accountability through a combination of antiquated legislation like statutes of limitations, coercive agreements to silence survivors, and fostering a culture that prevents survivors from speaking out. This is undoubtedly a positive development. SNAP Leader Bobby Sas commented,’ As a survivor of abuse within the SBC, it was concerning to see the list of abusers and alleged abusers because it does not tell the true scope and length of time these abuses have been going on. This announcement by the DOJ may give us the justice we deserve.’ We encourage anyone who has suffered traumatic harm at the hands of trusted faith leaders, laypersons, or volunteers from the SBC to report their information to the Department of Justice or local law enforcement. We know it is difficult to revisit the horror, and so we hope victims have support in place and seek counsel. CONTACTS: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Bobby Sas, SNAP Leader, ([email protected]), Dave Brown, SNAP Leader Tennessee (901-569-4500) (SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is  

Accused Priest Stands To Inherit $2 Million; SNAP Responds

(For Immediate Release August 11, 2022)  Despite the protests of her relatives, an Erie County court has decided that David W. Bialkowski, a Catholic priest suspected of sexually assaulting minors, can spend a dead parishioner's $2 million fortune as he pleases. We echo the statement of counsel representing the family, "Just as he apparently 'groomed' young boys, he has become the sole beneficiary under the will of a wealthy elderly widow," attorney Sean A. Fitzgerald, a court-appointed guardian representing relatives of Peters, said of Bialkowski in court records. “The methods of grooming (a) boy or teenager are the same as the methods of exercising undue influence over a person.” As we see it, Bialkowski does not deserve stability in his life, and yet, he barricades what he believes is rightfully his, adding a grieving family to his list of alleged victims. We also applaud the attorney representing two men who claim Bialkowski abused them as children. A motion has been filed asking the court to freeze the funds until their Child Victims Act lawsuits are resolved, which are stayed by a state judge while the Diocese of Buffalo is in bankruptcy proceedings. It is no surprise to us to learn of Bialkowski’s greed. He denied accusations that date back to 2011, quiet and content on his leave of absence until he found his pearl. It takes a morally bankrupt person to befriend a parishioner in hopes of monetary gain. If he had any ounce of decency, he would relinquish all rights to the $2 million. We hope the Judge hearing the motion to place these funds in escrow can see the greed and dirty hands in this case and makes the right decision to not allow Bialkowski these funds. CONTACTS: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) (SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

Diocese of Harrisburg reaches an agreement in their Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

(For Immediate Release August 5, 2022)  The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and the Tort Claimants Committee for Sexual Abuse Survivors struck an agreement to possibly resolve the Diocese's Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring lawsuit. The Diocese hailed the proposed plan's child safety measures as "the most thorough and in-depth child protection protocols of any Diocese in the United States" in a statement. Once finalized, the deal will be filed to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for approval "as soon as practicable." The diocese issued this in a statement, ‘The agreement between the Diocese and the Committee will be incorporated into a plan of reorganization and that plan will be voted upon and submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval. Of greatest importance, the plan will seek to establish the most comprehensive and in-depth child protection protocols of any Diocese in the United States.’ In addition to the above, the RCDH and related entities will establish a Survivor Compensation Trust and provide funding to the trust in an amount equal to $7.5 million to provide financial restitution for survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The Survivor Compensation Trust may also be funded through additional settlements with the RCDH’s current and legacy insurance carriers. The details of this settlement will be embodied in the joint plan of reorganization referenced above, which will be co-drafted by the RCDH and the Committee and filed with the Bankruptcy Court as soon as possible. Once established, a Trust administrator, and not the Diocese, will determine compensation amounts and claim eligibility for abuse survivors. We thank the survivors of sexual assault from the Diocese of Harrisburg for standing out for their rights and the rights of other victims. Given the church's wealth, it is a drop in the bucket in the overall scheme of things. No amount of money will compensate for the lifetime of pain caused by sexual assault. Furthermore, we know that these approaches are intended to maintain the impression of assistance for survivors, but no actual action has been taken by church leaders to ensure justice for victims. If Harrisburg church authorities want to assist survivors and establish safer settings within their congregations, they must be open and honest with their congregations. They should promptly update their list of abusers to incorporate the new names discovered during the bankruptcy process, and then utilize every resource available to guarantee parishioners and parents that children and adults are safe. Similarly, they should be turning over all information regarding sex crimes, regardless of the status of the abuser, to local law enforcement. We know that no institution can police itself and so we hope that police and prosecutors in Pennsylvania are looking long and hard to find creative pathways toward justice for survivors and to prevent more cases of abuse in the future. A critical step in preventing abuse is ensuring that those who covered up and enabled abuse are prosecuted. CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267) 261-0578 ), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386 ), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) (SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is ###

Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has been investigating institutional child sexual abuse for almost 4 years

(For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 2, 2022) Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has been investigating institutional child sexual abuse foralmost 4 years Survivors call for the indictment of individuals who have abused children or covered up cases ofchild abuse Call for the release of the report before the new AG and lead investigator are replaced Call for openness and transparency on the part of the OAG WHEN Tuesday, August 2, 2022, at 11:00 AM WHERE On the public sidewalk outside Maryland OAG office in Baltimore(200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202) WHO Several members of the international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network ofthose Abused by Priests, victims of abuse from other Maryland institutions, and supporters. WHY At a sidewalk news conference in front of the Maryland AG’s office, survivors, and supporterswill call on the Maryland Attorney General, Brian Frosh and the lead investigator, ElizabethEmbry, to hand down promised indictments concerning child sexual abuse in order to rid thecities and towns of Maryland of abusers and their enablers. This will protect the children ofMaryland from further abuse. In addition, we will request that, prior to leaving their currentpositions at the beginning of the year, Mr. Frosh and Ms. Embry release, at a minimum, apreliminary report on their 4-year investigation into institutional abuse. DETAILS Nearly 4 years ago, following the release of the scathing PA grand jury report on abuse by theCatholic Church, we sat down with representatives of the OAG’s office to brief them on theworkings of the Catholic dioceses represented in Maryland and to show them the level of abuseknown through public documentation at that time. The OAG promised that they wouldthoroughly investigate this issue by contacting survivors and/or their families. They did informus at the time that their investigation would be silent. But that was 4 years ago and it took thePA grand jury half that time to perform their investigation with more than twice as manydioceses! They have contacted countless numbers of survivors over those 4 years and in the lastyear have promised survivors that indictments would be coming in months. Other states havebeen carrying on similar investigations and when they have enough evidence to indict an abuser,they do so in order to make their state safer. We are afraid that the Maryland OAG is stringingsurvivors along with no incentive to complete the investigation, allowing known abusers to runfree, and not calling institutions to account for covering up. See the recent article about twosurvivors who have been interviewed by the OAG and are frustrated at the silence. CONTACTDavid Lorenz of Bowie, MD. SNAP Maryland Leader ( [email protected] , 301-906-9161,Becky Ianni, SNAP DC Leader ( [email protected] , 703-801-6044), Melanie Sakoda, SNAPSurvivor Support Coordinator ( [email protected] , 925-708-6175), Mike McDonnell,SNAP Communications Manager ( [email protected] , 267- 261-0578), Zach Hiner,SNAP Executive Director ( [email protected] , 517-974-9009

Survivors and Advocates Gather to bring attention to the Dark Chapters of Abuse within the Catholic Church

What: Demonstrators will demand that Catholic establishment use their power and influence to DO THE RIGHT THING!● Demand full and complete list of ALL the names of accused clergy and laity from non-compliant diocese.● Develop a National Database of abusive priests, foriegn and domestic, through the USCCB.● Enforce a zero-tolerance policy for clergy and staff.● Release records pertaining to abuse and cover-up.● Comply with Attorneys Generals’ Investigations throughout the US.● Hold bishops accountable.● Protect whistleblowers. Who: Survivors of clergy abuse and allies. When: Saturday morning, July 30th, from 8:30a-10a, as top donors, political supporters, and clergy arrive for the day’s events. Where: Outside Napa Institute Annual Conference, Napa, California.  CONTACT: Dorothy Small, SNAP Sacramento ([email protected], 530-908-3676), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Dan McNevin, SNAP Treasurer ([email protected], 415-341-6417), Joelle Casteix, SNAP California Media Contact ([email protected], 949-322-7434), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578) 

Clergy Abuse Survivors Gather as Powerful New Documentary on Abuse within the Catholic Church Premieres

Media Advisory (For Immediate Release June 16, 2022)  Clergy Abuse Survivors Gather as Powerful New Documentary on Abuse within the Catholic Church Premieres THE NEW RATLINE Exposes Ongoing Abuse and Cover-up in the United States and Abroad “Immigrant women and children are being abused and silenced by the Catholic Church,” says SNAP   WHAT: Holding signs, childhood photos, and posters at a sidewalk press conference, survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their advocates will: Share information regarding the case of Fr. Jesus Suarez and other cases of clergy abuse and cover-up that are contemporary with the cases explored in THE NEW RATLINE, Draw attention to today’s premiere, and Recognize the brave survivors and advocates who helped make this important documentary possible. WHO: Several members of survivor support and advocacy group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including a Houston-area man who helped with the research for the film and other local California survivors of clergy abuse. WHEN: Survivors and advocates will gather at 2 PM and the Press Conference will begin at 3 PM on Friday, June 17 WHERE: Outside the TCL Chinese Theater, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood CA 90028 WHY: A powerful new documentary on clergy abuse and cover-up called THE NEW RATLINE is premiering at the Dances with Films festival, and survivors of clergy abuse and advocates are gathering to draw attention to the film, its premiere, and most importantly, the stories that the film details. From Dogtooth productions, THE NEW RATLINE is “a relentless search into one of our generation’s greatest cover-ups” and tells the story of Fr. Jesus Suarez, a priest from Colombia who is accused of sexually abusing young girls in his home country before being brought to the US – apparently with the full knowledge of local Church leadership – where his crimes were brought to light. After Fr. Suarez fled, investigative journalist John Carlos Frey went to find him and hopefully bring his victims some sense of justice. THE NEW RATLINE is the story of those efforts. “We are honored to have been able to work with John on this important film that tells a modern story of a problem that so many people think ended long ago,” said Eduardo Lopez de Casas, SNAP Board Member. “If we want to truly put a stop to this problem, we need more people to take the time to learn that it is still happening and that they can be a part of the solution.” CONTACT: Eduardo Lopez de Casas, SNAP Houston ([email protected], 361-571-7106), John Carlos Frey ([email protected]), Dorothy Small, SNAP Sacramento Area Leader, ([email protected], 530-908-3676), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) (SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have upwards of 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is 

SNAP Virtual Mini Conferences

These virtual mini conferences are free to all and will feature opportunities for survivors and advocates to learn about topics like healing, advocacy, and self-care from a variety of different speakers throughout the year. Our next mini conference will be on September 10, 2022.

We are especially grateful to the Ribera Law Firm of San Francisco, California for being a Gold-level Sponsor for our mini-conferences. Their support is critical to our ability to hold these free events and we are grateful to them for their support. Learn more about the Ribera Law Firm here.


Additionally, SNAP is very grateful for the generous support of our 2022 mini conferences that has been provided through a grant from Oak Foundation Children First Fund, a fund of Tides Foundation.


Take Action and Stop Child Sexual Abuse

If you see child sexual abuse, or have a reasonable suspicion of sexual abuse or your child has been sexually abused, call 911 or your local police immediately. 

If you suspect abuse, call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or visit the Child Help Hotline. Trained crisis operators staff the lines 24/7 to answer your questions. If necessary, they will show you how to report in your local area.

Child pornography is a federal crime. If you see or suspect images that may be child pornography, report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTip Line



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