ME--Group praises victims of ME predator priest
For immediate release: Monday, Aug. 15, 2016
Six men have settled child sex abuse and cover up cases against Maine Catholic officials. We applaud them for being smart enough to unite, brave enough to share their pain, wise enough to consult attorneys and strong enough to endure a long process of justice, prevention and healing. Their success should deter would-be wrongdoers and inspire suffering victims. And we call on Maine church officials to post on church websites the names, whereabouts and work histories of all proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesting clerics in the state.
A settlement like this usually only happens when school or church officials are sitting on mountains of evidence that they repeatedly and callously put kids in harm’s way. (In this case, diocesan officials were warned about an abusive priest, Fr. James P. Vallely, a half century ago but kept this secret and quietly moved him to unsuspecting parishes endangering family after family.) Terrified of having this incriminating information surface in court or in public, churh officials and their insurers eventually pull out their checkbooks.
We suspect that there are others who were molested in Maine Catholic churches who are still suffering in shame, silence and self-blame. We hope they’ll be inspired by these brave, compassionate and persistent victims. We hope these still-silent victims will step forward now so they can recover and so that others can be spared.
We also suspect that criminal charges against some of the wrongdoers may still be still possible. And we remind everyone that it’s our duty to share what we know or suspect about child sex crimes and cover ups with law enforcement. It’s their job to determine whether prosecution can be pursued.
We call on Maine church officials and members to seek out and help other victims of predator priests. Bishop Robert Deeley should use parish bulletins, church websites, pulpit announcements and news conferences to beg anyone with information or suspicions about these predators to step forward. And they should use these same resources to warn families who are near these predators about them.
Now is no time for complacency in Maine Catholic churches. Complacency endangers kids. Vigilance protects them.
No matter what lawmakers or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 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)