Creative Lawsuit by West Virginia A.G. Against Catholic Officials is Dismissed, SNAP Reacts
The creative angle taken by West Virginia’s attorney general in order to force more transparency in his state’s Catholic leaders has been dismissed by a circuit court judge. We hope that A.G. Patrick Morrissey will appeal this ruling soon and that he prevails before another judge.
We continue to be disappointed that West Virginia's new bishop is exploiting legal technicalities to evade responsibility for the crimes and cover ups of his predecessors. It would be better if Church officials at the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston would cooperate with external probes by secular law enforcement in order to prove to the public that their record is as clean as they claim. Absent such proof, we can only assume that the scandals that have repeatedly been demonstrated by investigation after investigation are also occurring in West Virginia.
We are not attorneys, but believe that the issue raised by A.G. Morrisey in his suit is fundamentally about the safety of children. It is terribly disingenuous for Catholic officials to take advantage of church-state separation when it is advantageous for them - such as when it enables them to keep hidden information about clergy sex crimes - while simultaneously trying to erode that separation when it is disadvantageous, such as when lobbying against state and federal laws.
We hope victims, witnesses, whistle-blowers and concerned Catholics in West Virginia are not deterred by this ruling and will continue to turn to law enforcement officials and the justice system. We know that reports to secular law enforcement are the best ways to protect children and expose wrongdoing, and we hope that A.G. Morrisey continues to receive information and encouragement as he continues his creative approach towards tackling clergy sex crimes in West Virginia.
(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)