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).

Catholic Priest Charged with Assaulting an 8yr-old in Canada; SNAP reacts

(For Immediate Release May 31, 2023) 

A Catholic priest has been charged with sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl in Little Grand Rapids First Nation, and Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) believe that there may be additional victims. Our hearts go out to this very young child.

We cannot help but think of her innocence as she describes the horror inflicted on her to the police. We hope that she is receiving much-needed support and assistance from family members and trusted professionals. We also hope that this example will motivate more survivors and witnesses to come forward and report the incident to authorities. We call on Archbishop Albert LeGatt to do aggressive outreach to all the communities where this priest worked and encourage anyone with information to immediately report what they know to law enforcement.

 

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SNAP urges California Attorney General to release findings on Catholic sex abuse in the state

(For Immediate Release May 31, 2023) 

Early on May 31st the President and Treasurer of SNAP's Board of Directors, Shaun Dougherty and Dan McNevin, and Melanie Sakoda, SNAP's Survivor Support Coordinator, emailed California Attorney General Rob Bonta, urging him to release a report, or at least a preliminary report, on his findings on Catholic sex abuse in the state. SNAP feels very strongly that such a report is crucial at this juncture, as two Catholic dioceses have already declared bankruptcy in the wake of the civil window that closed at the end of 2022, and at least two others are considering it. We also believe that this tactic is not just to avoid paying restitution to the victims that Catholic cover-ups created, but also, and perhaps even more importantly, to curtail the public release of information on the extent of abuse and its cover-up in Catholic California.
There is a more complete explanation of our reasoning in the letter, which is set forth in its entirety below. While we know that bankruptcy is a federal procedure, we believe that the release of the information the Attorney General has collected since an investigation began three years ago would remove one of the incentives for California dioceses to choose this option. Similar reports have recently been released in Illinois, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
We hope that Attorney General Bonta will seriously consider our request. Dan and Melanie are available to meet with him or members of his staff to share more about the research we reference in the letter.
SNAP looks forward to receiving a positive response from Attorney General Bonta, and to sharing the results of our deep dive into what is already publicly known about Catholic sexual abuse in Northern California, as well as additional information gleaned from the cases that were filed during the three year civil window.

Contact: Dan McNevin, SNAP Treasurer ([email protected], 415-341-6417), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Shaun Dougherty, President, SNAP Board of Directors ([email protected],  814- 341-8386), 

Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578),  Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

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


Multi-page Letter Below 

 


Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, returned to ministry in 2003, is accused in six civil actions

For immediate release: May 30, 2023
 
Last week a very disturbing piece by NBC Bay Area revealed that a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, returned to ministry in 2003, is accused in six civil actions filed in the recently closed civil window for child sex abuse victims. Concerned survivor Danielle Lacampagne brought her accusations against Fr. Daniel Carter to the Archdiocese in 2002, and followed it up with a police report, and a lawsuit. Despite her best efforts, the priest continued to work in San Francisco parishes for another two decades.
We are not surprised that the Review Board found Danielle's accusations "unfounded." In our experience "Independent" Review Boards routinely dismiss victims' complaints, particularly if they are only aware of one complaint and the cleric denies the accusation. These Boards are picked by and work for their bishop. They also base their decisions on information supplied to them by that bishop.
Other Diocesan Review Boards have "cleared" accused clergymen only to have additional accusations uncovered later. One California example is the case of Fr. Eric Swearingen. Like Fr. Carter, Fr. Swearingen was placed on leave briefly in the early 2000s after he was accused of child sexual abuse in a lawsuit. However, the Diocese subsequently deemed the allegation "not credible," and Fr. Swearingen was allowed to return to ministry. In 2019, Fr. Swearingen was again placed on leave, reportedly based on information that was uncovered during the course of the lawsuit. Ultimately Fr. Swearingen was added to Fresno's list of accused priests.

 


Former Dubuque Priest Faces Second Allegation of Abuse

(For Immediate Release May 25, 2023) 

An accusation of child sexual abuse against a Florida Catholic priest has been recently deemed to carry a "semblance of truth," by the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The cleric, Fr. Leo P. Riley, worked in 16 Iowa parishes following his ordination in 1982. He was transferred to the Diocese of Venice in 2002.

While the current complaint about Fr. Riley was apparently received on May 5th of this year, another accusation was brought to the Archdiocese of Dubuque in 2014.  That victim filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese the following year. The Archdiocesan Review Board initially deemed that accusation as “not manifestly false or frivolous.” (Page 5) However, several months later Archbishop Michael O. Jackels announced that his investigation did not find the complaint to be true and Fr. Riley resumed working in a parish in Florida.

 


Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul Releases Clergy Investigation Report; SNAP Reacts

(For Immediate Release May 23, 2023) 

On Friday afternoon, all six of Illinois’ Catholic dioceses sent out a sudden press statement, written in concert, that describes the policies and procedures each institution has in place to protect children from abuse. With today’s news, we now know why those Church leaders felt the need to remind parents and parishioners about these policies – because thanks to the work of the investigators at the Illinois Attorney General’s office, it is now apparent to us that those policies are weak, vague, and rarely followed.

In a stunning report, A.G. Kwame Raoul’s office has described the ways that Catholic leaders in every diocese in the state have acted in concert to protect abusive priests, to keep the public from learning about those crimes, and to push back on survivors and their loved ones who came forward in hopes of preventing other cases of abuse

According to the report, more than 450 priests have abused nearly 2000 children in Illinois since 1950. These numbers are at once staggering and, unfortunately, likely an undercount.

 


Diocese of Sacramento once again quietly removes priest for 'inappropriate conduct.' SNAP Responds

(For Immediate Release May 22, 2023) 

On May 19th, the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento once again quietly announced on its website the removal of a cleric for “inappropriate conduct.” Bishop Jaime Soto said that  Fr. Sijo Chirayath was found to have “violated diocesan policy regarding clergy conduct” with an adult man.  The priest no longer has an assignment nor does he have faculties in the Diocese, and he was asked to return to his order, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) in India, on Friday.

We applaud the Diocese for removing Fr. Chirayath and for posting this information on its website. We hope that the parents of students at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in Vallejo, where the priest worked as a chaplain, was immediately alerted when the accusations were first received on April 26th, and have now been apprised of the outcome of the investigation.


Will a Church-issued scannable ID help rid France of abusive priests?

(For Immediate Release May 15, 2023) 

The French Bishops' Conference has just introduced its "in-house" scannable ID card which will replace the "celebret", a paper document proving the holder's credentials.  The card provides color-coded background information on priests', bishops' and deacons' suitability to perform their duties or hear confession.  While green and orange indicates the holder is fully or partially qualified, the main goal is to wave a red flag at those who are no longer allowed to officiate.  

The Conference has finessed the context for this move by not spelling out the possible reasons for a red flag. However one can assume that the goal of this attempt at greater transparency is to weed out impostors and better keep track of those found guilty of sexual abuse - folks who often manage to evade detection and continue their criminal activities unabated. 

Culturally speaking this initiative reflects an acceptance in France of an Identification Card that must be carried at all times and shown at polling stations or to any law enforcement officer who asks.   Still, it has been met with dismay by some French survivors of clergy sex abuse who have years of well-founded skepticism vis-à-vis the Church.  

A couple of questions come to mind.  First, how can we be sure that this digital celebret will be properly updated in real time and thus reassure society that the carrier can be trusted?   One is also left wondering about a profession, a "milieu" so rife with criminal behavior that its members need to carry proof of their decency and credentials.  Abuse happens in all professions but we don't know of a hospital or university where doctors or university professors carry a card certifying that they have not abused patients or students in the privacy of their office.

The second question is who gets to scan the QR Code if a priest is about to take a group of children on a "pilgrimage". Is it me, a parent  petrified at the thought of leaving my child in the hands of an institution known for its treatment of children (example taken from a  real testimonial in the recent independent report on clerical sex abuse in France)?  Even if I did have the right, would I so openly signal my suspicions to people who have crushed me with their moral authority and supposed superiority since I was myself a child?  No risk of that: only the organizer of the pilgrimage will have that right.  Will he/she really exercise it, knowing the implied suspicion? On balance, SNAP feels the initiative is well-meaning although damning. We give the benefit of the doubt but fear that survivors' skepticism is amply justified.

Marc Artzrouni, Europe Coordinator
 [email protected]
 tel: +33 (0)6 95 73 65 92 (France)
 www.snapnetworg.org


Toledo Priest Convicted on Three Counts of Sex Trafficking

A priest who worked in Ohio's northwest side has been convicted on federal sex trafficking charges. We are grateful to the brave victims in this case and know that without their courage and constancy that this dangerous predator would still have access to children.


Additional Criminal Charges Against Catholic and Private School Teacher

(For Immediate Release) 

A 29-year-old teacher — who was working at a Jewish private school when police officers arrested him for child sex crimes at a private Catholic school and a charter school — is facing more charges on Wednesday in Miami-Dade County. Eric Bernard Givens, also known as “Mr G.”, has been at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center since Friday without bond. County jail and court records show that on Wednesday he was facing charges in cases involving three girls.

According to court records, the additional criminal cases involve two other girls who said Givens abused them while he was their teacher at St. Mary Cathedral School and a girl who met Givens while he was her teacher at the Theodore R. and Thelma A. Gibson Charter School in Miami's Overtown district.


Counselor for Maine diocese disciplined for ethics violations

(For Immediate Release May 10, 2023) 

A licensed social worker who remains working with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine, was disciplined recently by a state regulatory board for ethics violations. Carolyn Bloom, an "independent" clinician who has worked for the Diocese for twenty years, was censured and agreed to pay for and participate in a year-long supervision program for her interactions with clergy abuse survivor Melissa Kearns.  

Melissa filed a complaint with the Diocese in 2020, saying that she was forced into a sexual relationship with Fr. Anthony Cipolle. Although she was ineligible for Diocesan therapy services because she was an adult at the time of the abuse, Melissa received a text message from Bloom. Bloom identified herself as a "clinical social worker who works for the Catholic diocese to help abuse victims." The communication between the two women continued for several months, which led Melissa to believe that Bloom was her therapist, which was apparently not the case.

We urge Bishop Robert Deeley to reconsider keeping Bloom on the payroll. In addition, he should do outreach to all the victims who have contacted the Diocese during Bloom's tenure, begging anyone who may have been similarly harmed to come forward. We also call on him to publicly apologize to Melissa and to anyone else Bloom may have harmed.


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