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).

Yet Another Example of Bankruptcy Court Gone Awry

(For Immediate Release April 21,2023)

The Associated Press has uncovered more details in the quagmire that is the preemptive bankruptcy filing by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Once again, the Archdiocese has exerted concerted and consistent efforts to keep their history of clergy abuse and cover-up hidden from the public eye.

The latest twist in this case is that the judge who, according to the AP, “has consistently ruled in favor of the church” in the bankruptcy case, also appears to have chosen not to disclose the fact that he is a major donor to the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Judge Greg Guidry claims that he did not know he was donating tens of thousands of dollars annually to the Archdiocese, a statement that is at best difficult to believe.  Following the widespread publication of his clear and obvious conflict of interest, the judge has now signaled that he mayrecuse himself from the case.

Recusal is the minimum that should happen. Any decision that Judge Guidry has made up to this point is now impossible to view as impartial, given the judge's clearly close ties with one of the sides in the case he has been presiding over for months. It is notable that Judge Guidry donated more than $36,000 after the Archdiocese declared bankruptcy. It is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile those donations with any notion of impartiality, given that the judge is making decisions over how at least some of those donations will be applied. We believe that Judge Guidry should recuse himself not only from this case, but from any case going forward that has even the slightest tie to the Catholic Church.

Ultimately, what is most enraging about this situation is that there are 500 survivors of clergy abuse whose fate and future is being decided by a court system that apparently is tied very deeply and closely to the institution that caused those 500 innocent victims grievous harm. It is unconscionable that, as these survivors wait in limbo to see what becomes of their attempt to seek accountability and justice, their stories and histories will be weighed by a judge who is deeply and personally devoted to the institution that covered up the crimes committed against them. These survivors deserve a fair and honest shot at justice. What they are receiving in New Orleans is far, far from it.

CONTACT:  Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected] 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) 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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Archdiocese of Philadelphia Named in Civil Suit

(For Immediate Release April 19, 2023)

A civil complaint was filed yesterday against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and former priest Kevin Barry McGoldrick. The lawsuit, entered in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County, accused the Archdiocese of permitting and facilitating sexual abuse by McGoldrick and of covering up complaints of sexual assaults by him for more than 10 years. We are grateful to the victim, “Jane Doe” both for speaking out and for her persistence, and we hope that her courage will embolden any others who may have been hurt in the Catholic Church to come forward, report their abuse to the police, and begin healing.

McGoldrick was ordained for the Archdiocese in 2003, but in 2013 he left Philadelphia for a job as a chaplain at Aquinas College in Tennessee, which is part of the Diocese of Nashville. However, the complaint in the new lawsuit states that the Archdiocese opened an investigation into claims of sexual abuse by McGoldrick in 2013, immediately before his transfer to Nashville.

Jane Doe, who was a student at Aquinas during McGoldrick’s tenure there, reported to the Nashville Diocese in 2019 that the priest sexually assaulted her in 2017. While Nashville never opened an investigation into the accusation, this intrepid survivor eventually filed a police report and a lawsuit against the Diocese in 2020. The civil action was settled in May, 2020 for $65,000.

Concerned that Fr. McGoldrick may have hurt other young women in earlier assignments, Jane Doe also reported her assault to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in July, 2019. The Archdiocese found the accusation "credible" in January, 2020, and suspended Fr. McGoldrick's priestly faculties. McGoldrick subsequently requested laicization.

We observed in 2021 that it seemed likely to us that McGoldrick must have been known to be a problem before he was assigned outside of the Archdiocese. The red flags were that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput approved McGoldrick’s transfer to Nashville when there was a priest shortage in Philadelphia, and that there was no announcement of the Tennessee accusations by the Archdiocese. If McGoldrick was indeed moved to another state and diocese after being accused of sexual assault, we have serious concerns about the way Archbishop Chaput handled that 2013 accusation.

It now appears that at least three complaints have been made against the former priest, and yet his name still does not appear on the Archdiocese’s list of accused clerics. While Jane Doe was presumably over the age of majority when she was assaulted, we do not know whether the other two victims were adults or children. However, even if all were grown-ups, it would seem that the Catholic Church now acknowledges that even men and women can be victimized by clergy, and in the interest of complete transparency, McGoldrick’s name, photo and his complete assignment history should be added to the Philadelphia list.

We know that McGoldrick worked in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 2003 to 2013, including at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and School. Catholics4Change has provided a list of additional Philadelphia assignments. We also know that he worked at Aquinas College from 2013 to 2017, and at Overbrook School/St. Cecilia Academy, also in Nashville, from 2017-2020. In all of McGoldrick’s priestly assignments, countless young women and girls were in contact with him and would have trusted him completely because he was a clergyman.

We encourage anyone who experienced, witnessed, or suspected clergy sexual abuse in either the Archdiocese of Philadelphia or the Diocese of Nashville to make an immediate report to law enforcement. What happened was not your fault, and you are not alone. There are people who will believe you and support you. It is time to come forward and begin healing, and to hold the perpetrators and their enablers accountable.

CONTACT:  Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected] 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) 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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Accused abusive priest is now Nashville hospital chaplain

(For Immediate Release April 18, 2023) 

He’s now a Tennessee hospital chaplain, even though

--a judge says he “inflamed” an argument that led to a murder,

--a Catholic bishop says he “abused his position as a clergyman,” violated a church code of ethics, tried to deceive investigators and

--a woman says he “sexually, emotionally and psychologically abused her in 2018,” and

--an attorney says he’s had “previous felony convictions.”

He is Fr. Anthony Cipolle and he’s a chaplain at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

We call on the Catholic bishops of Nashville and Maine to

-- publicly warn the public, police and prosecutors about him, for the sake of public safety, and

-- clarify his clerical status, since the public’s been told he can’t function as a priest anymore.

We also applaud Melissa Kearns who bravely revealed her suffering at the hands of Cipolle in Maine’s largest newspaper yesterday.

https://www.bishop-accountability.org/2023/04/the-priest-broke-his-vows-she-says-shes-breaking-the-silence/

https://1019por.com/news/074470-bangor-woman-shares-story-of-abuse-from-former-catholic-priest/

https://www.pressherald.com/2020/05/31/portland-diocese-fires-priest-who-inflamed-events-leading-to-murder/

Fr. Cipolle’s church supervisors in Maine “did not specify how he allegedly attempted to deceive investigators, nor did it give details of his other alleged infractions” but said “he will not be given another assignment” and “cannot function or present himself as a priest.”

A Florida attorney secured a settlement on behalf of another adult victim of Fr. Cipolle.

https://www.adamhorowitzlaw.com/blog/2023/03/fr-anthony-cipolle-diocese-of-portland/

Catholic bishops can’t recruit, educate, ordain, train, supervise, pay and transfer sexually troubled clerics, then suddenly set them loose on society when they are exposed as wrongdoers. The church hierarchy owes an explanation to parishioners in both Maine and Tennessee and must clarify whether Cipolle has been defrocked or not. 

Contact: Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578) 


Disgraced and Defrocked - Ex Cardinal McCarrick Facing New Criminal Charges

(For Immediate Release April 17, 2023) 

Attorney General Josh Kaul and Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld today announced that defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, age 92, has been charged with one count of Fourth-Degree Sexual Assault for an incident that occurred in April of 1977.

We see this as still only the tip of the iceberg for "Uncle" Ted, and an ugly iceberg it is. We applaud the most recent victim who has bravely come forward and we are also glad the Wisconsin Attorney General has moved the wheels of justice against the disgraced former cardinal. We hope the victim's courage inspires others who are suffering to break their silence, report these crimes, expose dangerous perpetrators, and begin to heal. 

On February 13, 2019, McCarrick lost his clerical standing and was laicized for sex offenses, making him the first cardinal to receive such a consequence for his crimes. As of February of this year, the former cardinal has been accused publicly of sexually assaulting at least eight seminarians, priests, and other vulnerable adults, as well as an estimated 14 children in New York and New Jersey. He is also facing criminal charges for child sexual abuse in Massachusetts, as well as in Wisconsin.


Francis defends John Paul II against accusations; SNAP is not shocked

(For Immediate Release April 17, 2023) 

It has not been a good couple of years for the late Pope John Paul II, from documentaries that have demonstrated that he covered-up sexual abuse in his native Poland to a formal Vatican document naming him as the person chiefly responsible for Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s years of abuse. Now, the Vatican is defending the late Pope from accusations that he himself may have molested at least two children.

We are not surprised that Pope Francis is vigorously defending his predecessor against accusations he may have molested underage girls. For years, the Church’s stance has been to circle the wagons around prelates suspected of abuse, and given that former Pope John Paul II has already been canonized, we are not at all shocked at the actions following this news. Yet we urge Catholic leaders to tone down the public displays of outrage and instead double down on transparency and an examination of what might be true.


First Lawsuits Filed Against Portland Diocese by Native Americans

(For Immediate Release April 14, 2023) 

Four members of the Penobscot Nation have sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and Bishop Robert Deeley claiming they were sexually abused when they were children by three priests assigned to St. Ann Catholic Church on Indian Island.

Since the law that barred accusations of long-standing abuse was overturned, these lawsuits are the first ones brought by Native Americans against the diocese.

It is always hard to report abuse. It is even harder against powerful institutions. So, we are very grateful to every person who is playing a role in this case and bringing critical information to light. We hope their courage will inspire others to speak up, too.

We are elated that legislation in Maine affords victims the opportunity to file claims and we hope that these four brave individuals will receive the compensation they deserve for the pain they have carried alone for so long. We also encourage any other victims who have been time-barred from justice in Maine to come forward and get the help they need. At the same time, we know how difficult it can be to revisit the past, so we offer our network as a resource for those individuals navigating this difficult chapter in their lives. Please visit Child USA and SNAP Maine Survivor’s Toolkit for additional help.

CONTACT:   Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected] 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) 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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Prosecutor in Maryland Gave A Pass to Abusive Priest; SNAP Reacts

(For Immediate Release April 13, 2023) 

Sadly, the report out of Maryland that law enforcement officials aided in the cover-up of abuse by the local Archdiocese is not unusual. SNAP chapters from coast to coast can no doubt name other accused clerics who were protected in similar ways.

For example, on the other side of the country, Msgr. Ignatius Vincent Breen was arrested in Fremont, California, after an investigation by police in 1982. Eight young girls had accused the cleric of sexual abuse and were prepared to testify. The Bishop of Oakland at the time, John Cummins, instead cut a deal with the Alameda County district attorney. The priest would move out of the county and enter a counseling program. That was it. No trial, no testimony, no public scandal, no justice. 

Msgr. Breen may have had as many as 100 victims. Sixty-one survivors have filed lawsuits accusing the clergyman of child sexual abuse in the California revival window that just closed. We have no doubt that the Oakland Diocese has been quietly resolving other cases for years. 


Former Scranton Bishop James Timlin has Died; SNAP responds

(For immediate Release April 10, 2023) 

Many Scranton Pennsylvania priests are accused of molesting kids and many of them worked under and were protected by the now-deceased Bishop James Timlin. We hope Timlin’s passing will bring some comfort to the hundreds of girls and boys who were sexually violated during his tenure.

One of those priests is Thomas Skotek who had molested and ultimately impregnated a minor girl in the parish between 1980 and 1985. Timlin sent Skotek for a psychological evaluation to Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland in October 1986 after learning of the crime. On October 9, 1986, Timlin wrote to Skotek at Saint Luke. "This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I share your grief. With the help of God, who never abandons us and who is always near, when we need him, this too will pass away, and all will be able to pick up and go on living. Please be assured that I am most willing to do whatever I can do to help."

In 1987, after Skotek returned to the diocese, Timlin reassigned him to St. Aloysius Parish in Wilkes-Barre. Timlin never notified parishioners in St. Aloysius or civil authorities about Skotek's rape of the girl. On December 13, 1989, the diocese sent a payment of $75,000 to the family of the rape victim. As part of the settlement, the family had to sign a non-disclosure agreement and liability waiver for both the diocese and Skotek.


SNAP Reacts to Concerning Video of the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

(For Immediate Release April 10, 2023) 

One of the world’s most influential religious leaders was forced to apologize following a viral video showing him apparently asking a young boy to “suck his tongue.” This story is another stark reminder of how powerful men can use their positions of power to benefit themselves at the expense of others, a thread that is all too common in cases of clergy sexual abuse.

The 14th Dalai Lama's apology follows a social media backlash against his behavior when a video of the incident, which happened at a gathering in the mountain city of Dharamshala in February, was shared on social media. In the clip, the child asks the Dalai Lama if he can give him a hug. The 87-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader then invites the boy on stage and points to his cheek and says, “first here,” prompting the boy to give him a hug and a kiss. After a few seconds, he then says, “suck my tongue,” poking his tongue out.


SNAP Calls on Archbishop William Lori to Immediately Update Credibly Accused Clergy List

(For Immediate Release April 5, 2023) 

More than 30 Maryland clerics, brothers, sisters, and lay personnel accused of child sexual abuse who are named in the new Maryland Attorney General report, are NOT on the Baltimore Archdiocesan list of those "credibly accused." We are appalled and concerned.

 

We call on Archbishop William Lori to immediately:

  • add these names to his list,
  • publicly explain his recklessness and secrecy, and
  • stop making hair-splitting and self-serving distinctions, such as refusing to list deacons, and
  • start listing ALL Catholic church and school staffers who assault boys and girls, regardless of their titles status or positions.

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