IL- A crucial lesson in the new McCormack child sex charges
For immediate release: Thursday, May 22, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
Chicago's most notorious predator priest Daniel McCormack will be in court today on new child sex charges.
There's a simple but crucial lesson here and it can be summed up in the old adage "Where there's a will, there's a way."
We believe law enforcement officials have brought these charges, in part, because they fear McCormack could walk free soon if the effort to have him permanently locked up isn’t taken.
So this is a smart prevention step. We applaud police and prosecutors and, most of all, the victim - all of whom are helping to stop future child sex crimes through these new charges.
But, this development shows that when law enforcement officials really put forth the effort, they can find ways to get and keep child molesting clerics behind bars. All too often, prosecutors decline to press charges against clergy who commit or conceal heinous child sex crimes, claiming they're hamstrung by archaic laws, limited resources, uncooperative witnesses, intimidated victims or other reasons. The real reason, we often suspect, is simply a lack of political will to take on powerful, popular, well-funded institutions like the Catholic archdiocese.
In our 25 years, however, we've seen determined and savvy police and prosecutors become increasingly creative and aggressive about pursuing criminal cases against predator priests and their complicit supervisors. We hope that this trend continues and escalates.
Child molesting clerics tend to be more well-educated, charming and persuasive than many other child molesters. They often enjoy the support of their church colleagues, members and superiors. Using their charisma, they often rally supporters behind them who show up in court, accuse prosecutors of being anti-religion, and use Biblical quotes and precepts (like the "need to forgive") to distract from their crimes and cover ups.
So it can be very tough to convict a child molesting cleric or win a lengthy prison sentence for him or her.
But the difficulties can't deter police and prosecutors from pursuing these criminals. We beg law enforcement agencies in the Chicago area to dig deep, work hard, and if necessary use new approaches and legal theories to investigate and prosecute religious figures who abuse their power to hurt kids and hide crimes.
(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 15,000 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 SNAPnetwork.org)