Media Statements

We are SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. We are the largest, oldest and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious authority figures (priests, ministers, bishops, deacons, nuns and others).

Michigan AG release report on Diocese of Kalamazoo; SNAP responds

For Immediate Release May 22, 2024

We are thrilled to learn that Attorney General Dana Nessel, one of the most aggressive and effective attorneys general in the US in terms of going after institutions that enable and perpetrate abuse against children, has released a report on the Diocese of Kalamazoo. The report contains detailed descriptions of accusations of sexual abuse or assault and other sexual misconduct by priests who are current or former clergy for the Diocese of Kalamazoo. The AG's investigation resulted in criminal charges against two Kalamazoo priests, Fr. Brian Stanley and Fr. Jacob Vellian.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo issued a statement in response to the AG's report. Bishop Edward M. Lohse said in part, “Our policies for protecting children and youth are some of the best that are out there, but that does not erase what happened in the past.”

However, persistent claims from Church officials to focus on child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions as a "thing of the past" are simply didisingenuousThis year SNAP has seen, on average, at least 4 news reports per month about the arrest of Catholic clerics or staffers for sexual abuse or misconduct. There is no sure-fire way to identify potential abusers. Moreover, most victims come forward between the ages of 50-70, which means that we may not hear from those children being hurt today for another 40 years. 

We would also like to add that in our opinion, it is important for victims of clergy abuse and witnesses to first report abuse directly to law enforcement, and only then to Church officials. The best outcomes of child sexual abuse accusations in Catholic institutions come from secular investigations of these crimes. Anyone with any information regarding child abuse in Michigan should contact the Attorney General Office: Hotline: 844-324-3374 or email: [email protected].

‘What we realize after secular investigations in many states, including Michigan, is simply this…Church officials knew about child sexual abuse and covered it up. We are not convinced that the institution has yet corrected this pattern of behavior," said Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Director.

Kudos to AG Nessel. Her investigation of Catholic sexual abuse in Michigan has been one of the most effective in the country. We hope her track record will inspire those abused in any state or any similar organization to come forward and make a report to their state's Attorney General.

CONTACT: Nadja Tirrell, SNAP Leader Michigan, [email protected], 517-285-0631, Nancy Crabbs, SNAP Leader Michigan, 616-514-7973, Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Director ([email protected] 267-261-0578)  Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President- Interim Executive Director, (814-341-8386 [email protected])

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


Letter to Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey

May 13, 2024

Dear Attorney General Bailey:

We are survivors of awful physical, emotional, educational, educational and sexual abuse and cover up at several Christian boarding ‘schools’ in Missouri.

To protect others, expose evil and help our ourselves find healing and closure, more than a dozen of us filed civil abuse and cover up lawsuits against the adults at the Ranch who committed or concealed heinous acts against us as youngsters.

Over the last few months, several of us have settled our lawsuits against the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Humansville where we were so deeply hurt. We are gratified that our courage has helped shine a light on the horrific crimes and misdeeds that were allowed to go on there for years.

But real healing and closure elude us for several reasons.


Watchdog groups respond to new revelations of two accused sexual predators in Cleveland parishes

Watchdog groups respond to new revelations of two accused sexual predators in Cleveland parishes
 
They ask: How many other sex offenders are active in the diocese?
 
In a letter to Bishop Malesic, they express concern about his “carelessness” and urge him to take immediate action
 
For Immediate Release, May 10, 2024
 
In the wake of revelations yesterday that two accused sexual predators are helping to lead Mass in Cleveland parishes, two watchdog groups are calling on Bishop Edward Malesic to act immediately to identify and remove all other diocesan personnel who might pose a risk to children and young people.
 
Calling the news “alarming,” a co-director of BishopAccountability.org and a longtime Ohio leader of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) are urging Malesic to take “personal responsibility” for ensuring that only adults with clean records work at his parishes, schools, hospitals, and summer camps.
 
In the last 24 hours, the public has learned of two accused sexual abusers serving in leadership posts in Cleveland parishes.
 
  • A Cleveland news station revealed yesterday that at St. Thomas More in Brooklyn OH, the man leading the parish in song on many Sundays for the last year is, shockingly, listed on the state’s sex offender registry. He recently served a year in prison for attempted sexual contact with a child.
    Exclusive: Sex offender allowed to help lead CLE Catholic church masses, Channel 5 News, 5/9/2024

  • And a national Catholic newspaper reported Thursday that Rev. Jeffrey Weaver, a priest accused by a diocesan official in the 1990s of sexually exploiting a teenager, has been presiding at the Latin Mass at St. Elizabeth of Hungary parish in Cleveland.

    Cleveland priest at center of Vatican II altar damage previously accused of abuse, National Catholic Reporter, 5/9/2024

Catholic priest arrested in Texas; SNAP reacts

Credit: Garland Police Department

For Immediate Release:  May 7, 2024

Police in Garland, Texas, said today in a news release that they had arrested a priest from the Catholic Diocese of Dallas on two felony counts of indecency with a child. We are grateful that law enforcement has charged the clergyman. However, we are concerned that there may be other victims and we urge the Diocese to do outreach. 

The Diocese of Dallas said that it was made aware last week of accusations that Fr. Ricardo Reyes Mata inappropriately touched a juvenile girl at a residence in Garland. According to the Diocese’s statement, Church officials immediately filed a report with Child Protective Services and law enforcement. Fr. Mata was also removed from public ministry.

We commend the Diocese for this appropriate response. However, we also believe that this arrest shows us once again that the persistent claims from Church officials that the abuse scandal is a thing of the past are simply not true. Each month we read, on average, of at least two news reports about the arrest of Catholic clerics or staffers for sexual abuse or misconduct. This disturbing news from Texas reaffirms that clergy sexual abuse is still very much a thing of the present.

Moreover, Fr. Mata was only ordained in 2022. The priest was appointed Parochial Vicar of the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Dallas in July of 2023. He also worked as the Parochial Vicar of St. Jude Parish in Allen and was the Chaplain at Bishop Dunne High School.

We feel it is incumbent upon Bishop Edward J. Burns to announce this arrest in every place that Fr. Mata was assigned either as a cleric or a seminarian, and to beg anyone who may have experienced, witnessed, or suspected abuse to contact the Garland Police Department at 972-485-4840.

It can take victims decades to acknowledge their abuse and find the courage to come forward. However, the fact that one survivor has already been identified, may help to shorten this process.

In the meantime, it is important to recognize that rules and regulations do not protect children, and that there is no effective protocol to screen for potential offenders. Parishioners and the public need to be aware of these facts, and remain alert for signs that a child is being groomed or harmed.

CONTACT: Melanie Sakoda, Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Interim Executive Director ([email protected], 814-341-8386)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


Diocese of Kalamazoo provides list of those “disqualified from working with kids,” survivors’ group wants more information posted

For immediate release: April 19, 2024

The Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo recently released a list of names of those “disqualified from working with kids.” While information like this is always welcome, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, hopes that additional information will be added to the list soon.

It is always helpful for survivors when these lists are posted, especially for those who may be suffering alone and in silence. Seeing that they are not the only one helps victims heal, and could also encourage others who were abused – whether by the same person or in the same place – to come forward.

So, we are grateful that Bishop Edward Lohse finally published a list. However, traditionally the lists of Catholic dioceses have provided information about clergy, and sometimes other individuals, who have been “credibly accused” of the crimes of child sexual abuse and/or child pornography. The other categories for removal Bishop Lohse identified: continued violations of a child-protection policy after warnings, failing as a mandated reporter to report allegations of abuse of children, failing to act to prevent abuse that they knew to be happening, and physical abuse of children, are likely laudable additions that will help protect boys and girls from suffering childhood trauma.

Yet, we cannot help by worry that is all too easy for the parishioners and the public to assume that the clergy, or even the non-clergy on the list, did not commit life-changing and heinous crimes. Thus, we believe that it is extremely important for Bishop Lohse to identify which people fall into which of categories.


Agreement between the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and the New York Attorney General reached; SNAP reacts

For immediate release: April 17, 2024

An independent monitor will oversee the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn’s handling of sexual abuse accusations under a settlement reached with the New York Attorney General. Although we hope that this solution will help to hold Church officials accountable, we worry that a deal like this may sound good on paper, but end up ineffective in reality.

The Attorney General’s office began investigating eight of New York’s Catholic dioceses in September, 2018. Today, AG Letitia James announced an agreement with Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan for independent oversight of abuse accusations in the Diocese.

Interventions by secular officials can provide a welcome change to “business as usual.” However, it is important to remember that the Catholic hierarchy has enabled, denied, ignored, and concealed heinous crimes against children for decades. Also, the Brooklyn Diocese, like all Catholic dioceses, is run by a man who truly answers only to the Pope. Church hierarchs are almost never defrocked, demoted, or even disciplined, no matter how poorly they handle abuse and cover-ups. Sadly, no agreement between an Attorney General and a Church official will ever change this unhealthy dynamic. 


SNAP to MO AG: Investigate boarding schools!

April 15, 2024

Dear Attorney General Bailey:

As Missouri’s top law enforcement official, we feel strongly that you can no longer ignore the growing crisis involving kids in the essentially unregulated, mostly for-profit, purportedly religious boarding ‘schools’ where dozens of vulnerable kids have been – and likely still are being – abused.

Crisis is not an exaggeration given the recent disturbing disclosures of known and suspected child sex crimes that have surfaced at facilities like Agape School in Stockton, Lighthouse Academy in Piedmont, Circle of Hope Girls Ranch in Humansville and Kanakuk Kamps in Branson.

Ample evidence already exists in the public record that these institutions lack oversight and sometimes attract predators who hurt kids and supervisors who ignore or hide suspicious or criminal acts.


Another Brownsville priest accused of child sexual abuse; SNAP again urges outreach

For immediate release, April 8, 2024

A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, has been removed from ministry in the wake of an accusation of child sexual abuse. This is the second cleric in the Diocese, that we know of, to be accused this year. The other clergyman was arrested in February.

At the time of the arrest, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, urged the Bishop to do immediate outreach to beg other victims and witnesses to report to law enforcement. We renew our plea as this second case is being investigated by the Diocesan Review Board.

Brownsville Bishop Daniel E. Flores received notification on March 15th that Msgr. Gustavo Barrera had been accused of a child sex crime. The priest denied the claim, but submitted his resignation and retirement as pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows in McAllen, and the Bishop accepted this resignation on March 23rd. However, the accusation was not made public until April 3rd.


SNAP stands in solidarity with excommunicated father; says actions of Louisiana bishop will discourage victims from coming forward

For immediate release: March 25, 2024

A Louisiana man, who worked as a Catholic deacon and whose son was sexually assaulted by his priest as a child, has been excommunicated by his former bishop. As far as SNAP can tell, no perpetrator has ever faced this harsh ecclesiastical penalty. We call on the faithful who are appalled by this action to contact the bishop and express their dismay.

Scott Peyton’s excommunication from the Church on March 13, 2024, at the hands of Diocese of Lafayette Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel, seems to us to be vindictive, unnecessary, and likely to have a chilling effect on those victims and their families who are also believers. While Scott had worked as a deacon in the Diocese alongside his son Oliver’s abuser, Fr. Michael Guidry, Scott had already stepped away from this position in December, telling the Bishop at the same time that he and his family had moved on to another faith community.

We cannot help but consider that the true motive for this excommunication was to discourage victims and their families who are also still practicing Catholics from coming forward in the future. Many of the faithful believe that those who are excommunicated die in a state of sin, and consequently are condemned to hell. Fear of incurring this same penalty would certainly be a powerful deterrent to those who still want to be a part of the Church to stay silent.

Bishop Deshotel was also behind the recently successful appeal to overturn the state’s three-year lookback window. That action too is likely to discourage all Catholic victims, not just those who wish to remain communicants, from coming forward.

Yet exposing hidden predators and their enablers will help to safeguard children today and in the future. Moreover, the publication of perpetrator names can also be the first step to healing for those still suffering alone and in silence from their abuse.  

While the Catholic Church claimed in 2002 to be turning over a new leaf, welcoming the reports of survivors and their families and promising not to hide perpetrators, Bishop Deshotel’s intimidation tactics and hypocrisy gives the lie to those claims, in our opinion. We think it is long past time to push back.

As Scott’s case illustrates, even the children of those who work hard to support the mission of the Church can be subjected to the trauma of child sexual abuse, which has life-long consequences. Moreover, while the abusers apparently continue to enjoy protection from Catholic officials, those who speak truth to power seem likely to find themselves punished.

If you too find this state of affairs intolerable, please let Bishop Deshotel know how you feel. Let him know in no uncertain terms that his tactics will not prevent anyone from speaking out to protect children.

Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel

1408 Carmel Drive
Lafayette LA 70501
337-261-5614

[email protected]

CONTACT: Curtis Garrison, SNAP Louisiana and SOSCSA.org ([email protected]214-808-2878), Melanie Sakoda, Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 267-261-0578),  Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


Louisiana Supreme Court strikes down lookback window for CSA survivors; SNAP urges action in response

For Immediate Release: March 26, 2024 

On March 22, 2024, the Louisiana Supreme Court, in a 4-3 split decision, overturned the three-year window that allowed child sex abuse victims to sue their abusers and the institutions that shielded the perpetrators, even if the statute of limitations had run out on their claims. The majority of the high court said that the lookback law was “unconstitutional.” SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, calls on all Louisiana survivors, their family members, and those who support them, to raise their voices in protest.

Our hearts go out to the devastated victims, many of whom have waited for decades to expose their abusers as well as the groups that protected the perpetrators. Delayed disclosure of child sexual abuse is the rule. Trauma-informed experts say more survivors disclose between the ages of 50-70 compared to any other age group. When archaic laws limiting victims’ access to the courts are overturned or lifted for a time, communities are safer. Knowledge about who the hidden predators and their enablers are not only helps to safeguard today’s children, the exposure of perpetrator names can also be the first step to healing for those still suffering alone and in silence.  

The Louisiana Supreme court justices overturned a law passed by a unanimous legislature, and signed by then governor John Bel Edwards, who was supported by then attorney general and current governor Jeff Landry. All of these Louisiana officials viewed the window as constitutional. The will of the people of the state was thwarted by four men. We wonder if their actions might be considered “exceptional circumstances” that would allow for their removal or impeachment?

Four Louisiana supreme court justices – James Genovese, Scott Crichton, Jeff Hughes and Piper Griffin – agreed that the “lookback window” law was unconstitutional. The majority opinion, written by Justice Genovese, said reviving old sexual abuse claims violated the “due-process rights” of accused abusers and their enablers. The other three Justices, William Crain, Jay McCallum and John Weimer, the Court’s Chief Justice, disagreed. Justice Crain wrote in the minority opinion that “[T]he forum for this debate is the legislature, not this court. The legislature had that debate and – without a single dissenting vote – abolished the procedural bar and restored plaintiffs’ right to sue.”

It seems sad to us that there does not seem to have been any discussion of whether or not the constitution might also value the lives of innocent Louisiana children over “due process.” Whether or not overruling 200 elected officials are “exceptional circumstances,” we have set up a petition people can express their displeasure with this unconscionable decision to ignore the rights of boys and girls to grow up without experiencing the life-long trauma of child sexual abuse.

If nothing else, we would like to make our anger over this ruling heard loud and clear. Please sign our petition [need link to petition], and then share your support with your contacts, and on social media. Stand with us and shout out that it is more important to protect children, then to shield those who abuse them or allow them to be assaulted from the consequences of their actions.

CONTACT: Curtis Garrison, SNAP Louisiana and SOSCSA.org ([email protected], 214-808-2878), Melanie Sakoda, Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 267-261-0578),  Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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