Defense Team for Priest Accused of Abuse Smear Mother of Victim, SNAP Reacts

In a Wisconsin courtroom this week, defense attorneys for a priest accused of sexually abusing a child attempted to smear the child’s mother by arguing that the allegation “is a path for citizenship.” This is a disturbing attempt to shift the focus from the accused to the parent of the victim, and we hope the jury sees through this sad attempt by the defense.

What matters in this case is that a 13-year-old girl has accused Fr. Charles Hanel of assaulting her when she went to see him for confession. What does not matter is the immigration status of the victim’s mother. Whether or not the woman entered the country legally is not germane to whether or not Fr. Hanel sexually abused this child. To attempt to deflect the focus of the trial from the abhorrent actions of the priest by bringing up the mother’s immigration status is an incredibly low tactic from the defense team.

We hope that the jury in this case will see through these smear tactics and will focus on the facts of the case rather than this desperate attempt to cast aspersions on a mother who is trying to secure justice for her daughter.

CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP Board Member ([email protected], 415.341.6417), 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

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant