AR - Victims seek bishop’s help

Victims seek bishop’s help

Accused teachers go court next week

One pled guilty to molesting female student

And a fellow teacher didn’t report the crimes

Group wants Catholic officials to help prosecutors

SNAP to Little Rock diocese “Do aggressive outreach now

For immediate release: Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging Little Rock’s Catholic bishop to “aggressively seek out” others who may have “seen, suspected or suffered crimes” by two former Catholic school teachers who will be in court next week on child sex charges.

One of them, Kelly Ann O’Rourke, admitted molesting a student. The other, Kathy Gene Griffin, allegedly concealed O’Rourke’s crimes.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are begging Bishop Anthony Taylor to use his “vast resources” to urge prod others “who might have knowledge or suspicions about the two teachers’ crimes or school or church cover ups” to call law enforcement officials immediately, “so the two might face or be convicted of more charges and end up behind bars so kids will be safer.” SNAP also wants Taylor to give the accused teachers’ personnel files to the prosecutors if he hasn't done so already.

The group sent a letter to Taylor about their concerns this morning by fax and email.

On Sept. 16, O’Rourke will appear in Pulaski County Circuit Court (Room 220) on charges of violating her parole by repeatedly calling the girl she molested, then a teenaged Mount St.  Mary (MSM) School student. (The school is at 3224 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, 501-664-8006).

O’Rourke is expected to enter a plea.

The following day, Griffin, who taught at the same school, is scheduled to appear before the same judge on charges that she failed to report the abuse.

SNAP is urging Bishop Taylor to announce the two impending court hearing at masses this weekend, and prod anyone with information about the teachers’ crimes to also contact the police and prosecutor.

“Taylor could help or hurt prosecutors. For years now, largely by his inaction, he’s hurt them. And he’s still doing so right now,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “Both teachers may well have committed more crimes than police know about.”

“Catholic officials run and fund schools like MSM, hire and supervise the teachers,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. “But then, reports of child sex crimes and cover ups by these Catholic employees surface, and Catholic officials passively sit back and do little or nothing to really help anyone involved – police, prosecutors, victims or other affected students or staff. It’s inexcusable.”

SNAP believes Catholic officials have a moral and civic duty to actively help law enforcement prosecute and convict child molesting church staff through “aggressive outreach” using parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements.

“This is especially crucial in Catholic institutions for three reasons,” Clohessy said. “First, because bishops have long ignored and concealed child sex crimes by Catholic employees. Second, because bishops have repeatedly promised to change their ways in child sex cases. And third, because child sex cases are especially difficult for police and prosecutors to pursue, because predators – and those who help them - are usually very shrewd, while their victims are often frightened or confused.”

Eleven years ago, SNAP notes, US bishops adopted their first-ever national child sex abuse policy. In it, they promised to be “open and transparent” in church child sex abuse cases. So SNAP maintains that bishops can’t keep quiet and merely suspend child predators and do little or nothing else to safeguard kids.

In the vast majority of child sex abuse cases, Dorris believes, offenders are charged with only a fraction of the crimes they actually commit. “So a vigorous public awareness effort by church employees – from bishops and monsignors to secretaries and custodians – can make a major difference in how successful prosecutors are in keeping predators away from kids,” she said.

The prosecutor is Teresa Ball Defense and O’Rourke’s defense lawyer is Jack Lassiter (501-374-9010). The judge is Barry Sims.

SNAP believes that O’Rourke attended the University of Minnesota. She is a graduate of MSM and now lives at 8 Beachfront Trail, Santa Rosa Beach, FL (in Walton County), according to the Florida sex offender registry.

For a copy of SNAP’s letter to Taylor, please contact:        

David Clohessy 314 566 9790, [email protected], Barbara Dorris 314 503 0003, [email protected]

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