IL--Victims want better child abuse laws
Victims want better child abuse laws
In wake of Hastert, they say: “Give us more time”
Group backs new federal plan & seeks state reform too
SNAP cites case of accused Chicago youth activist & priest
He admits repeatedly abusing a boy & can’t work in LA archdiocese
But a year ago, Cupich let him work in Chicago but then reversed himself
Now, priest still lives here while his victim waits for months for church decision
Holding signs and childhood photos, in the wake of Dennis Hastert’s sentencing, abuse victims will
--announce their support for a new federal proposal to reform the statute of limitations,
--urge Illinois lawmakers to also relax the state’s “predator-friendly” abuse laws, and
--discuss an admitted offender in Chicago who is still a Catholic priest while his victim waits, for over a year, on a decision by Chicago’s top Catholic official
Thursday, April 28 at 11:30 a.m.
On the sidewalk outside the Chicago Archdiocese Headquarters, 835 N. Rush St. in Chicago
Three or four adults who were abused as children and/or supporters who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)
1) Last week, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced a new proposal to reform the federal statute of limitations on child sex crimes. SNAP wants Illinois public officials, especially those who repeatedly deplored Denny Hastert’s crimes in the news media recently, to push hard for the measure’s adoption.
2) SNAP also wants the state legislature to adopt the recommendation of Illinois State Attorney General and ICASA Executive Director who yesterday called for removing statutes of limitation for sex crimes against children.
The group says “the archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly statute of limitations is the single greatest obstacle to stopping child sex crimes” and notes that several large states, including Pennsylvania and New York, are debating relaxing their statutes.
3) A Chicago priest, Fr. Bruce Wellems, admits repeatedly sexually abusing a seven-year-old boy year ago. He’s been forbidden to minister in Los Angeles. But now, he lives and works in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. A year ago, Archbishop Blasé Cupich removed his “faculties,” which means he purportedly can’t present himself as a priest. Cupich’s hand-picked abuse panel may recommend putting Fr. Wellems back in a parish.
Initially, when confronted by news media, Fr. Wellems ‘attacked the messenger,’ saying reports of his abusive acts had “no factual basis.”
The victim, Eric Johnson (who now lives in Colorado) continues to wait for a decision. Johnson considered a civil lawsuit but was told the statute of limitations had expired. (A statement he wrote today will be read and handed out at the news conference.)
It’s precisely this kind of uncertainty, SNAP says, that courts could clear up, but only if statutes of limitations are “eliminated or expanded.”
At one point, Fr. Wellems was the executive director of Boys Town Chicago, Inc, a short-term residential assessment center and worked at Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart parish, both in the ‘Back of the Yards’ neighborhood.
He belongs to a religious order known as the Claretians. Last August, despite his abuse admission, Fr. Wellems moved up in the church hierarchy when he was elected to the Claretians’ new five-person national Provincial Council, a position he still apparently holds: http://www.claretiansusa.org/our-council/
He also had an audience last year with Pope Francis in Rome.
SNAP wants both the Claretians and Chicago archdiocesan officials to reach out to potential victims and parishioners who are hurt and confused and make public announcements about Fr. Wellems and disclose the names of all Claretians who are proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesters.
Copies of letters to and from church officials will be available at the news conference and at BishopAccountability.org
Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Bill Reidy (847-651-2661), David Clohessy (314-566-9790, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003, [email protected]), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, [email protected])