Catholic High School coach accused of child sexual abuse, SNAP commends the victim for coming forward and urges all dioceses to include lay perpetrators on their lists
We applaud the courageous woman who has filed the lawsuit in this case alleging repeated sexual assaults at the hands of a former water polo coach at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School. The survivor has named the coach, the school, and the Archbishop of Chicago as defendants. We believe that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops should mandate that all of those accused of abuse in Church institutions - whether clergy or lay - should be included on the diocesan lists.
The complaint alleges that the abuse occurred while the victim was a student at McAuley between 2012-2016. She was only 13 when she first met the coach. False accusations of child sexual abuse are extremely rare, so we believe this woman. Since the allegations are recent, we hope that local law enforcement will open their own investigation, subpoena or seize school and Archdiocesan records, and urge anyone who experienced, witnessed, or suspected the coach of abuse to come forward.
It is important to note that the epidemic of abuse in Catholic institutions goes beyond clergy. Brothers, nuns, lay employees, and volunteers have also been accused. In New York, 22% of the cases brought against the Catholic Church under the Child Victims Act involve lay employees. To us, that is a staggering statistic. In contrast, lawsuits filed against the public school systems in New York represent only about 2% of the complaints.
By including these lay perpetrators on all diocesan lists, that would likely mean a ballooning of reports. But the transparency would mean that those victimized by these abusers would know that they are not alone, which helps in the healing process. This heightened openness also would ensure that the public is aware of these perpetrators, which would make children and communities safer.
We hope this lawsuit encourages other victims that may have suffered abuse at the hands of a coach or layperson in a Catholic institution to speak out and report these crimes to law enforcement. Survivors can look for support as they come forward from family, friends, therapists, and groups like ours. No one needs to continue hurting in isolation and silence.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]) Larry Antonsen, SNAP Leader Chicago, ([email protected], 773-255-3382)
(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 SNAPnetwork.org)