KY -- SNAP: “Diocese should post names of all predators on its website”
Victims to leaflet church-goers
They warn public about predator priests
Group urges new Lexington bishop to act
One cleric has been accused of abusing four kids
Another one allegedly assaulted at least five boys
SNAP: “Diocese should post names of all predators on its website”
As parishioners leave mass, clergy sex abuse victims will hand them fliers about two Lexington area predator priests. The leaflets urge Lexington’s new Catholic bishop to
--aggressively warn his flock about two predator priests (one still in ministry), and
--post the names of all predator priests on church websites and in church bulletins.
The group will prod anyone who “saw, suspected or suffered” clergy sex crimes or cover ups in Lexington to “step forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.”
Sunday, March 15 at noon
On the sidewalk outside the Cathedral of Christ the King, 299 Colony Blvd. in Lexington (859 268 2861)
Three-four members of a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a Missouri man who is the organization’s long time executive director
(NOTE: SNAP is doing a separate event on Sunday in Louisville.)
SNAP wants incoming Bishop John Stowe (just promoted this week) to warn his flock about two local predator priests and permanently post all child molesting clerics’ names on his diocesan website.
1---Fr. Carroll Howlin faces at least four child sex abuse allegations, but now lives – and likely still ministers – among poverty-stricken families in McCreary County with no supervision. It’s “one of most reckless, disturbing and recent examples of how little church officials are doing to safeguard kids from known predators,” SNAP says.
Recently-released church records show that prosecutors found the child sex allegations “credible” and “there was sufficient evidence to file criminal charges” but the statute of limitations prevented it.
Based on some of these records, the Chicago Tribune reported that “Church officials removed Howlin from public ministry, but otherwise left him alone in Kentucky (despite charges that) Howlin had used money to gain sexual favors from two impoverished teenage boys and had been engaging in ‘informal ministry on the side’ in Kentucky” (with a charity called "Hills and Hollers Ministries," 606 376 7577).
In 2010, the Vatican banned him from unsupervised contact with children, but “he serves as his own minder here in rural Kentucky. The choice of whether to follow the Vatican's restrictions involving ministry or being alone with children remains entirely up to him,” the Tribune found.
“Howlin is in fact still a Joliet Diocese priest who is supposed to answer to its bishop, according to both the Vatican and other experts. The diocese continues Howlin's pension, and (his bishop) has the authority to dictate where Howlin lives. (But) records show church officials have done little to keep tabs on him,” the Tribune reported.
The Joliet diocese website says he has “a continuing canonical process,” proof that he’s still a priest.
From 1977-2002, Fr. Howlin was pastor of Good Shepherd Chapel (513 489 8815, 513 489 0200, 606 376 8728) in Whitley City, about two hours south of Lexington (but still in the Lexington diocese). He is listed as a “credibly accused” predator priest on the Joliet Diocese website:
2---In 2009, Fr. Joseph N. Muench was accused of having sexually abused five children in the 1980s. He pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment and attempted sexual abuse involving two of them. In May 2010, he was sentenced to a year in jail, but was released just four months later.
Fr. Muench is the most prolific living Lexington area predator priest, SNAP says. He most recently worked at Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary parish in Lexington (2006-2009). He also worked at churches in Covington, Frankfort, Prestonsburg, Martin, Harrodsburg, Perryville and Frankfort.
SNAP does not know where Fr. Muench is now. But the group says Catholic officials should defrock him, publicize his whereabouts and “aggressively” seek out others who might be able to bring more criminal charges against him.
It’s irresponsible, SNAP maintains, for Catholic officials to “recruit, educate, ordain, hire, train, transfer and shield priests, but suddenly act powerless about them once their crimes become public.”
3---About 30 bishops, usually under pressure, have posted names of proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm
For “the safety of children and the healing of victims,” SNAP wants Bishop Stowe to “take this simple, inexpensive step toward openness and prevention.”
According to BishopAccountability.org, an independent, Boston-based archive group, there are seven publicly accused Lexington diocese predator priests: Fr. William J. Fedders, Fr. Stephen Gallenstein, Fr. John B. Modica, Edward Francis Murray, Fr. Leonard B. Nienaber, Fr. William G. Poole, and Fr. Carl C. Schaffer. Lexington Bishop Kendrick Williams also resigned after being accused of molesting three boys in Louisville. (All three reached settlements.)
SNAP suspects there are at least a dozen clerics more whose crimes and identities remain hidden.
Photos of Fr. Howlin and Fr. Muench are available at BishopAccountability.org
The attorney whose case brought records about Fr. Howlin into the public eye is Terry Johnson of Chicago (312 922 4022, [email protected]com). The attorney who represented victims of Fr. Muench is B. Keith Saksefski of Louisville (502 267 8222).