Letter to Bishop Zubik
Sept. 12, 2013
Dear Bishop Zubik:
We are members of a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our mission is to heal the wounded, protect the vulnerable and expose the truth.
Your soon-to-be newest public relations staffer, veteran journalist Ann Rodgers, has spent her professional career trying to expose the truth. We hope she’ll be better able to persuade you to do this than we have. We’ll keep trying, nonetheless.
Specifically, we want you to expose the truth about two priests: Fr. Alan E. Caparella and. Fr. Richard Deakin. Both spent time in Pittsburgh. Both molested elsewhere. Both faced civil lawsuits.
Just last week, the Associated Press reported that the child sex abuse case against Fr. Caparella was settled in Massachusetts.
And we have recently learned that a child sex abuse case against Fr. Deakin, was settled in Baltimore. (In addition, Fr. Deakin pled guilty to child sex crimes in criminal court.)
As best we can tell, there’s been no media or public attention in Pittsburgh about either Fr. Caparella or Fr. Deakin, nor the accusations against them or the settlements involving them.
According to news accounts and Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian (617-523-6250, [email protected]), Fr. Caparella abused a youngster in Boston in between 1963-1985.
According to news accounts and Maryland attorney Robert L. Hanley Jr. (410-823-7800, [email protected], [email protected]), Fr. Deakin abused a teenaged Baltimore girl from 1986-88.
You have repeatedly pledged to be “open” about clergy sex cases. You and your brother bishops have an allegedly binding national policy that requires “openness” in clergy sex cases.
But we learned about these credible allegations and these settlements only through litigation and media coverage, not from you, your predecessors or your staff. How is that being “open?”
Why won’t you use your vast resources to reach out to others who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by these clerics, and others? Why won’t you follow the lead of 30 of your brother bishops and post on the diocesan website the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics in your diocese?
Now we have a pretty good idea of how you, your lawyers and your public relations team will respond, if asked, about these clerics.
You’ll claim you’ve had no reports of these clerics abusing in Pittsburgh.
But you know most abuse victims never speak up. And you know that a change in geography doesn’t cure molesters. And you know that public appeals to victims to come forward especially by authority figures can make a real difference.
(Keep in mind Fr. Deakin. For five years, he worked around hundreds and hundreds of students. It’s extremely unlikely that he sexually assaulted Maryland but not in Pennsylvania.)
You’ll claim these are all “old claims.”
But the settlement involving Fr. Caparella was just disclosed last week. And Fr. LeDoux headed a university just last year. And what does it matter when the actual crimes took place? As best we can tell, three of these four men are still alive and could still be molesting today. Most of their victims are also likely alive, perhaps suffering in silence, shame and self-blame, largely because of the continuing secrecy of Catholic officials including you.
You’ll claim these clerics aren’t paid by the diocese.
So what? They worked in diocesan parishes and schools with the permission of your predecessors and colleagues. They and knew diocesan parishioners and diocesan students and may well have sexually assaulted members of your diocese. It’s disingenuous to split hairs and dodge responsibility for this. As bishop you are responsible for the well-being of all your flock, not just those exposed to diocesan predators.
You’ll claim little of this has been proven in court.
But one cleric Fr. Deakin pled guilty in criminal court. Others avoided criminal prosecution in large part because church officials at best ignored their crimes or at worst concealed their crimes.
The bottom line, Bishop, is this: there are many excuses you could offer for continuing secrecy and inaction. But they’re all excuses. A truly compassionate and courageous shepherd would use every means possible to find and help those who are suffering in silence and shame and self blame. A truly compassionate and courageous shepherd would do everything he could to warn unsuspecting families about child molesters.
So we urge you again to spread the word about these two clerics. And we urge you, for the protection of kids and the healing of victims, to disclose the names, photos, whereabouts and histories of every proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics who lives or lived or works or worked – in your diocese.
We look forward to hearing from you.
David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]) 7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143
Fran Unglo Samber (717-514-9660, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])