DE--Unusual court ruling on confession, SNAP responds

For immediate release: Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])

A Delaware Court has issued what’s being called a “precedent-setting” ruling about the so-called sanctity of confession in a clergy sex abuse and cover up lawsuit.

Judge Mary M. Johnston is dealing with a case involving a child molesting Jehovah’s Witness in Delaware.

We’re not lawyers. But child abuse isn’t rocket science. If you see, suspect or suffer child sex crimes, call law enforcement. If it turns out later you’ve somehow violated some tenet of your faith, you can deal with it later. But kids’ safety is paramount. The physical and emotional well-being of a child trumps the spiritual purity of an adult.

This kind of ruling is what happens when church officials conceal child sex crimes for decades – they lose credibility among judges. And this is what happens when church officials deliberately and deceptively exploit confessional confidentiality.

Often, we've seen church officials falsely claim that conversations about abuse were confessions, so they could keep hiding the truth from police, prosecutors, parents and parishioners. We hope that's not the case here.

We hope that anyone who saw, suspected or suffered crimes or cover ups by church officials – will speak up, get help, expose wrongdoers and protect kids.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have 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

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])


Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit against Jehovah’s Witnesses

February 3, 2016 · by Craig Anderson 

DOVER — With a precedent-setting determination regarding confidentiality among some church members last week, a Superior Court judge continued a lawsuit against a Sussex County congregation.

Judge Mary M. Johnston did not dismiss a lawsuit filed by the state of Delaware against the Laurel Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding whether it should have reported child abuse allegations in 2013.

The state is suing the congregation and two elders for allegedly  . . . 

Read full article here

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