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).

Criminal charges against Fr. Leo Riley dismissed; SNAP Responds

For immediate release: July 15, 2024

The criminal case against an ex-Dubuque priest accused of multiple counts of child sexual abuse was dismissed today. There was no ruling on the accusations, just a decision that the case was beyond the criminal statute of limitations. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is disappointed that once again an accused clergyman was able to avoid facing his accusers in court.

 Although Fr. Leo P. Riley had denied the charges and pleaded not guilty, we know that false accusations of child sexual abuse are rare, multiple false accusations are even rarer. We believe and stand with the brave survivors who came forward to accuse this cleric. Despite Fr. Riley’s attorney's claiming that there was “no evidence” that the clergyman committed these crimes, the truth is that the testimony of these courageous victims would have been evidence.

 Many secular reports and individual investigations across the globe have shown that the Catholic Church protected perpetrators over children. Far too many stories highlight how this religious institution knew of child sexual abuse by clergymen, but did not report the crimes to law enforcement or remove the offenders from ministry. Effectively, this allowed accused abusers to continue to work for years. Instead, Church officials moved accused offenders to other parishes, dioceses, and states, or even out of the country.

Pennsylvania survivors of CSA vow to keep fighting for SOL reform; urge concerned citizens to join them

For immediate release: July 15, 2024

In 2018, then Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the results of a grand jury investigation into sexual abuse within six diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the state. This report, revealing widespread assaults on children by clergy and cover-ups by Church officials, shocked the world. It also forced bishops from coast to coast into greater transparency, and inspired Attorney General’s across the country to open their own statewide investigations. The Grand Jury revelations of continuing, systemic cover-up in Pennsylvania, has since been duplicated in other states.

The report included a list of recommendations, among them, and perhaps most important, opening a "civil window,” which would give child sexual abuse victims a second chance to file lawsuits for damages against their perpetrators and those who enabled them. This “look back” legislation for now-adult victims of childhood sexual abuse, who are locked out of the courts by archaic, predator-friendly statutes of limitations, is central both to protecting children and to delivering justice. Similar windows in other states have not only brought many more survivors forward, but, more importantly, revealed “hidden perpetrators” who remain a threat to today’s youth.

Representative Mark Rozzi (D) and Representative Jim Gregory (R), both survivors of childhood sexual abuse, sponsored and passed the recommended window legislation. This took an almost three year, bi-partisan effort. In 2020, just when we believed we would see this initiative on the general election ballot, we were informed that because of an administrative error by the office of the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, this was an impossibility. Making matters worse, we also learned that the entire multi-year process would have to begin again from scratch. 

Vatican Decision On Allegations Against Cardinal John Dew “A Whitewash.” Abuse Survivors Publish Letter Of Complaint

For immediate release, New Zealand, 8 July 2024

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in Aotearoa New Zealand, known as SNAP, has made public its letter to the Vatican about a presumed investigation into child sexual assault allegations against Cardinal John Dew, former Archbishop of Wellington.

SNAP wrote to the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Disciplinary Sector, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, responsible for dealing with sexual abuse complaints against clergy. 

A copy of the letter was published on the SNAP Oceania website.

The letter expressed concerns that the Dicastery interviewed only the alleged offender and that another coverup has occurred, this time between the New Zealand Catholic hierarchy, the Vatican, and a Catholic Religious Order known as the Sisters of Mercy.

“To say that your current outcome is a whitewash is an understatement,” SNAP wrote to Fernández. “Protecting the hierarchy at the expense of the people makes it plain that the bona fides of the Dicastery are skewed in favour the hierarchy,” the survivors said.

The letter also urged the Dicastery to reopen this matter. “We urge the Dicastery to publish its report on John Dew. Justice must not only be done, but it must also be seen to be done,” the letter stressed.

SCOTUS rules US bankruptcy law only shields those who sought its protection; SNAP applauds decision

For immediate release: June 27, 2024

The Supreme Court of the United States today ruled that “U.S. bankruptcy law doesn't afford bankruptcy courts the kind of power needed to block lawsuits against parties who haven't filed for bankruptcy.” SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, believes the Court made the correct decision, and that it will help survivors whose lawsuits for child sexual abuse have been shifted into bankruptcy court.

The ruling in the case invalidated a bankruptcy deal involving Purdue Pharma, maker of Oxycontin, and members of the Sackler family, who owned the drug firm. However, it is likely to impact the resolution of other bankruptcy cases as well. Institutions like the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts, that filed for protection in the wake of thousands of lawsuits for child sexual abuse, will be affected by this decision. In fact, both filed briefs in support of upholding the Purdue Pharma deal.

Church Redress Further Fails Abuse Survivors. Complainant In Pastoral Healing Process Receives Letter From Church Lawyer

For immediate release, New Zealand, 24 June 2024

The New Zealand Catholic Church’s National Safeguarding and Professional Standards Committee (NSPSC), responsible for the Church’s sexual abuse redress protocol—TEHOUHANGA RONGO / A PATH TO HEALING (APTH), together with the Church’s National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) set up to coordinate responses to complaints under APTH, have been accused by survivors of foiling complaints, reports the survivors advocacy network SNAP.

Victims and survivors of clerical and religious sexual abuse who decided to reach out to the New Zealand Catholic Church for healing, say church investigations into their complaints are being obstructed by NSPSC and NOPS, as the principles established in APTH are still not being properly observed, and APTH procedures are still not being followed.

SNAP reports that one APTH complainant recently received a letter from a lawyer instructed by both NSPSC and NOPS threatening to “discontinue the inquiry into your complaints,” after the complainant questioned NOPS’s handling of the investigative process.

The complainant claimed, “investigators were prevented by NOPS from gathering the evidence and making the necessary inquiries.”

Texas megachurch pastor accused of child sexual abuse; SNAP applauds the victim for speaking out

For immediate release: June 16, 2024

The founding pastor of Gateway Church in Southlake, has been accused of sexually abusing a young girl beginning in 1982, when she was just 12 years old. He was a young, married pastor with a child of his own at the time. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, applauds this survivor for coming forward. Her courage will help to protect today’s children.

Cindy Clemishire told The Wartburg Watch that Pastor Robert Morris began sexually abusing her on Christmas Day, 1982, and that the assaults continued for four-and-a-half years. Pastor Morris said in a statement that “When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying. It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong. This behavior happened on several occasions over the next few years.” We wish to remind Pastor Morris that this was not “inappropriate sexual behavior.” This was a crime.

FBI investigating child sexual abuse in the Two by Twos; SNAP is grateful for this action

For immediate release: June 15, 2024

We are grateful that the FBI is investigating a religious sect that is facing widespread accusations of child sexual abuse. Such crimes in faith communities are best looked into by independent and trained professionals.

Our hearts ache for the victims from the Two by Twos (2x2), or The Church with No Name. While we have no first-hand knowledge about these reports, we know that false accusations of child sexual abuse are extremely rare, and that those who prey on children seldom stop on their own. We want the survivors to know that we believe them, and that they are not alone. We commend those who have bravely stepped forward, and we urge the countless others who may be suffering alone and in silence to make a report to law enforcement.

Credibly accused abusers still being hidden by St. Paul’s archbishop

These clerics were in the Twin Cities archdiocese. (Two may be here now; their whereabouts are unknown.)

Each of them

--has been publicly deemed a ‘credibly accused’ abuser by other Catholic officials,

--are on ‘credibly accused’ abusers lists on other official church websites.

But Twin Cities Archbishop Bernard Hebda refuses to admit their wrongdoing or put their names on his online ‘credibly accused’ abusers list.

(All of the information below comes from one or more of the following sources: court records, church documents and/or mainstream media accounts.)

Kansas Catholic officials disclose child sexual abuse accusations against a long-time priest "substantiated;" SNAP weighs in

Kansas Catholic officials disclosed this week that child sexual abuse accusations against a long-time priest have been found "substantiated." We find it very disturbing that the accusations were first disclosed in 2004, yet the cleric remained in active ministry until his retirement in 2013, and likely continued to work as a supply priest in the following years. The clergyman was not placed on the Diocese's list of abusers until this week. We know that false accusations of child sexual abuse are extremely rare, and that those who prey on children rarely stop on their own. Our hearts ache for all the young lives that may have been endangered over the past 20 years.

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, announced on May 27, 2024, that Father Roderic Giller, OSB, who retired from parish ministry in July 2013, was the subject of "substantiated allegations" of sexual abuse of children during the time he was working at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca. Shockingly, the Archdiocese and Abbey admitted that they first received those accusations in July 2004.

Fresno Catholic bishop will file for bankruptcy in August; SNAP reacts

For Immediate Release: May 28, 2024

The Fresno Diocese announced today that it will file for bankruptcy in August.  SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, urges Bishop Joseph V. Brennan to reconsider this scorched earth legal tactic.

Bankruptcy is not the only way to achieve fair recoveries in all of the lawsuits against the Diocese. In the last window, universal agreements were reached between the Church and survivors and their attorneys, without the draconian consequences that bankruptcy will bring along with it.

In a bankruptcy, those who have filed lawsuits become “creditors.” The court will allow a certain period of time for other “creditors” – that is other victims -- to come forward. However, once the bankruptcy proceeds to its conclusion, anyone abused before the filing date who did not come forward by the bar date is forever barred from filing a lawsuit for damages. This would include those who do not yet remember their abuse, those who do not yet understand the impact it has had on their life, those who are not yet ready to speak out, and – most disturbingly -- those children who are too young to understand that they need to file a claim before the bar date.

Despite persistent claims from Church officials that child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions as a "thing of the past, this year SNAP has seen, on average, at least 4 news reports per month about the arrest of clergy or staffers for sexual abuse or misconduct. Whatever reforms have been made in the Diocese of Fresno, there is no sure-fire way to identify potential abusers, and predators are attracted to faith communities because people have their guard down. We can safely say that today’s Catholic children remain at risk of being hurt in their parishes or schools.  Most victims come forward between the ages of 50-70, but for those children being hurt in the Fresno Diocese today, this bankruptcy would deny them any chance of restitution for their life-long injuries.

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