Diocese of South Bend Goes on the Offensive Against Young Victims in Effort to Protect Abusive Coach
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 21, 2021
In an attempt to protect a man accused of abusing at least three girls he coached on his volleyball team, Catholic officials in South Bend are using the appalling tactic of trying to force the survivors to be named publicly. This is little more than an effort to scare the young women who have brought this suit forward and we hope that this brazen attempt at intimidation is thrown out by the judge.
These three women deserve praise and applause for reporting the grooming and harassment that they experienced at the hands of Justin Cochran, their former volleyball coach. If Church leaders truly cared about rooting out sexual abuse, they would be working with these women to ensure abusers and enablers are removed and that future students in their schools are protected. The fact that the Diocese of South Bend is choosing to react with intimidation, attempting to publicly expose these brave survivors, speaks volumes as to why sexual abuse remains such a significant problem within the Roman Catholic Church.
To us, this latest tactic seems to be a continuation of the behavior the girls endured as high school students: forced to do what they were told and retaliated against when they did not. We believe that, as long as the defendants know the plaintiffs' identities, naming them publicly is just an attempt to encourage public harassment of the victims, keep them silent, and prevent others from coming forward.
We hope this despicable tactic not only fails but also backfires. We also hope that parishioners and the public in South Bend will share our revulsion at this blatant attempt by Catholic officials to further victimize these young women. We have seen this attempt at intimidation before, from the Jesuit Order in 2019, and that attempt failed in New York. We hope the same is true in Indiana.
CONTACT: Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)