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).

SNAP Responds to German Bishop Bode Resignation Refusal After Scathing Report

(For Immediate Release September 23, 2022) 

Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, the deputy chairman of the German bishops' conference, said on Thursday that he will stay in office, despite the release of a critical report on the treatment of abuse allegations in his diocese. Osnabrück University presented a 600-page interim study on abuse incidents in the diocese since 1945 on Tuesday. The investigation criticized Bishop Bode, who has held the position since 1995, and his predecessors for failing to provide adequate safeguards.

According to the report, "in the early decades of his tenure of office, Bishop Bode routinely left accused individuals in their posts, even those whose danger could scarcely be denied, or assigned them to offices that provided further opportunity for perpetrating crimes." In a media briefing on Thursday, the 71-year-old claimed he had discussed resignation with Father Hans Zollner, a safeguarding specialist and Director of the Institute of Anthropology Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care (previously known as the Center for Child Protection). Bishop Bode stated that he has opted to remain in his position in order to monitor the process of enhancing safeguarding protocols.

Bishop Bode looks to be in self-preservation mode. On the one hand, by refusing to resign, he suggests that diocesan changes will be evaluated and improved. This remark is tough to accept, and it simply cannot be believed considering his proven inaction and lack of concern for survivors and children. He did not propose his resignation to Pope Francis, but rather discussed it with Fr. Zollner, who has been publicly and fiercely criticized for the church's handling of the sexual abuse epidemic. We have to wonder if Fr. Zollner counseled a complicit Bishop to stick to his guns. Pope Francis has committed multiple times to purge the Catholic Church of sexual abuse. A more powerful message would be for the Pope to demand a resignation now from Bishop Bode.

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

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


Diocese of Rockville Centre hopes to reach an agreement on the Chapter 11 plan within 60 days.

(For Immediate Release September 22, 2022) 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre on Wednesday told a New York bankruptcy judge that it hopes to negotiate a consensual Chapter 11 plan with its creditors before the end of November.

At a virtual status conference, counsel for the diocese told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn that the diocese hopes to sit down with creditors and "hammer out a resolution" within the next 30 to 60 days, saying that after two years in bankruptcy, all parties are "eager" for a conclusion to the case.

The diocese, which includes Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2020, marking it the country's largest Roman Catholic diocese to do so. The measure was made after the Child Victims Act of New York, which extended the statute of limitations for filing claims of child abuse, left it facing suits from 223 potential victims.

While we hope that a resolution comes swiftly for those victims who have endured the lengthy process of bankruptcy proceedings, we know this is a measure intended to conceal secrets and prevent the public from learning the extent of priest abuse inside its boundaries and protect its assets. Janet Klinger, SNAP Leader in Long Island, New York said, “The Diocese of Rockville Centre has dodged the survivors for years.  It is good to see movement on this, but it will never heal the trauma these survivors continue to live with.”

We feel it is equally important for others to know that Rockville Centre church leaders prefer to hide: they are the only diocese in New York that has refused to publish a list of "credibly" identified abusers. Contrary to public demands for openness, Bishop John Barres and his associates have persistently resisted even providing their community with any information relating to priest abuse that hasn't been placed upon them by secular government and regional media. We've long advocated for zero tolerance, complete openness, and accountability, and the Diocese of Rockville Centre is a perfect example of why.

CONTACT: Janet Klinger, SNAP Long Island ([email protected]), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

 

 


Springfield Diocese has requested reporter's notes on priest rape.

(For Immediate Release September 22, 2022) 

The Berkshire Eagle is going to court today to fight the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield in its bid to get a reporter to reveal a confidential source.

According to court records, doing so would violate the reporter's commitment not to expose the name of a person who gave information regarding a Chicopee man's allegation in a civil complaint that he was regularly raped by clergy, including previous Bishop Christopher Weldon, as an altar boy in the 1960s.

We stand in full support of The Eagle who has helped amplify victims’ voices in the wake of the atrocities committed by abusive clergy. The Eagle's coverage in 2019 exposed the diocese's effort to safeguard the late bishop from being identified as an abuser. An independent judge's assessment in 2020 backed up that coverage, which was used extensively in the man's 2021 lawsuit against the diocese and eight of its leaders, including former Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski.

To us, attorneys for the diocese are using desperate legal tactics to create a new narrative or diversion. Per the court documents, a request from the diocese's lawyers asks the newspaper to break a trust with a confidential source and would jeopardize its ability to conduct investigative journalism.

This is oddly like how church officials have fought us here at SNAP to quiet what has been shared with us in confidence. According to our observations, the church continues to spend money on attorneys, dragging out litigation, even though we know stating the truth is free. Rather than attempting to fix up their own problems, they strike out and blame anyone who publicizes those tragedies and/or helps individuals implicated in them. We feel that the court will rule in favor of justice in this case.

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

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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Suburban Chicago Priest Sidelined Again Amidst Allegations

(For Immediate Release September 19, 2022) 

Two new sexual abuse allegations have been brought against a suburban Chicago priest who was reinstated as a pastor in November of 2021 after a review board found there was “insufficient reason to suspect” he had sexually abused children 25 years ago. SNAP wants Cardinal Blase Cupich to provide additional information about the nature of these new accusations and to beg victims and witnesses to come forward. Continued secrecy from the Archdiocese only deepens mistrust in the Church.

In a letter to parishioners of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Parish in Lake Zurich, the Cardinal wrote that the Archdiocese of Chicago was notified on Friday of two additional allegations of child sexual abuse by Rev. David Ryan. Fr. Ryan had faced an earlier accusation of child sexual abuse stemming from his time at Maryville Academy in Chicago's northwest suburbs. In fact, Fr. Ryan was reinstated after a Church investigation cleared him of those charges, only to be removed again when "new information" came to light in September of 2021. The clergyman was reinstated for a second time in November 2021.

We are relieved that Fr. Ryan has once again been removed from ministry. We know that false allegations of child sexual abuse are rare, and three false allegations are even rarer. Child abusers seldom cease abusing on their own, and this move may safeguard today's children from harm while also inspiring others to speak up.

However, we are dismayed that Catholic officials in Chicago continue to provide incomplete information about the accusations and minimize the significance of this news by offering prayers for Fr. Ryan and highlighting his cooperation. We remain skeptical about the way that the earlier allegations against this priest were handled. It seems to us that every diocese strives to frame its announcements in such a manner that parishioners and the general public are encouraged to believe that the accused is innocent and that the victim is making "false allegations."Such implications are not useful for ascertaining the truth.

From 1985 through the early 2000s, Fr. Ryan held powerful leadership positions in the Archdiocese, so we commend the survivors who have had the courage to come forward. We anticipate that there are more victims. We urge anyone who may have suffered, witnessed, or suspected Fr. Ryan of child sexual abuse to immediately make a report directly to law enforcement.

 

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager, (267-261-0578, mmcdonnel[email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]), Larry Antonsen, SNAP Chicago (773-255-3382,  [email protected] )  

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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The Washington Hebrew Congregation claims that parents forfeited their right to sue over sex abuse.

(For Immediate Release September 15, 2022) 

A prominent Reform synagogue in the District has argued that parents suing over alleged child sex abuse surrendered their right to bring a lawsuit when they signed activity waivers upon enrolling their children in school, court documents show. To us, this is a legal dodge that demonstrates that synagogue leaders care more about their pocketbooks than they do the protection of children, and we hope local parents and parishioners join us in our outrage at this argument.

In 2019, a group of parents filed a lawsuit against the Washington Hebrew Congregation, alleging that authorities at the Edlavitch-Tyser Early Childhood Center ignored warning flags while a teacher sexually abused youngsters. According to the lawsuit, the employee was also permitted to be alone with pupils, despite District standards requiring at least two workers to be present with toddlers in registered child development facilities.

What has astonished us in this lengthy lawsuit is the attorneys for the Washington Hebrew Congregation filed a move for summary judgment in July, asking the court to rule before a trial. The school's counsel contended that by signing the waiver form, parents forfeited their right to sue.

This is, in our opinion, a terrible attempt to stifle the voices of survivors and their families. The entire congregation at Washington Hebrew should demand the best interest of children but instead sit on the sidelines and allow their attorney to slap the faces of those who suffered the alleged horror.

According to Asher Lovy, Director of Community Organizing at ZA'AKAH, who is fiscally sponsored by SNAP, "For a school to claim, essentially, that being sexually abused is a regular function of a child's school experience is not only shocking but indicative of exactly the kind of culture that leads to those kids having been sexually abused. If Washington Hebrew Congregation truly believes that sexual abuse is a reasonable function of their school, perhaps they should include that in their future advertisement and count the seconds until they're shuttered."

It has also been reported that following a high-profile investigation in 2018, D.C. police said there was “insufficient probable cause” to make an arrest. Fourteen children were allegedly abused, according to court documents.

To us, this maneuver by defense counsel is an attempt to divert attention away from the fact that the individuals who brought forth the allegations are suffering as a result of their own church or congregation's actions to cover up the atrocities. As we continue to assist victims and their families, it becomes evident by the day that no institution is exempt from child abuse. We fully support them and ask the court to dismiss this heinous request.

CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP Virginia Leader  ([email protected], 703-801-6044) Asher Lovy, Director of Community Organizing at ZA'AKAH ( [email protected]) Mike McDonnell, Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


Pennsylvania Priest Case Set for Jury Trial After Multiple Delays

(For Immediate Release September 15, 2022) 

Robert Cedolia, a priest who worked in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pa., has yet to be brought to justice and the victim watches the wheels of justice slowing down. In 2019, he was placed on leave following a complaint to the IRCP (Reconciliation Compensation Program) that he sexually molested an 8-year-old boy in 1998 while pastor of Our Lady of Joy in Plum, Pa. His alleged victim said the priest assaulted him twice while he was preparing for first communion. Cedolia disputed the charges. In April 2021, he was accused criminally in a complaint.

Using the sacraments as a weapon, in our opinion, adds to the victim's horrible agony. However, the protracted wait in this instance is also problematic. Following many extensions due to a change in defense counsel, status hearings, and scheduling, another extension sets a jury trial for November 2022.

We are concerned about Fr. Cedolia's present location because his bail was set in 2021 and there is no sign that he is detained. We are concerned that the priest may have access to more children as a result of the delay. Furthermore, the IRCP was used to present this allegation which resulted in subsequent charges. To the best of our knowledge, each case that has not previously been known to the diocese must also go through a canonical investigation. The Diocese of Pittsburgh has yet to disclose any findings against Cedolia because doing so would demonstrate openness and accountability, something church officials have been unable to do. Following SNAP's persistent demands, Cedolia is now mentioned on the Diocese of Pittsburgh website.

While we understand that the Covid-19 pandemic halted many proceedings in courts globally, we would hope that court administrators could prioritize the more serious cases such as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Robert Cedolia.

Further delay in court proceedings deprives victims of power, control, and dignity. We stand in solidarity with the brave victim who stepped forward and admire his courage and endurance. Our hope is that no further court continuances happen in this case.

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

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act may see a Presidential Signature

(For Immediate Release September 14, 2022) 

On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Congress approved legislation abolishing the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse seeking to file civil claims, putting the bill to President Biden's desk for final approval. We applaud this measure and know that efforts like this will go a long way towards creating safer communities for children across the country.

The law dubbed the Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act, calls for removing the statute of limitations for minors filing civil claims relating to several sex abuse crimes, including forced labor, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation of children. This bill will amend current federal law to be more in line with the scientific reality of “delayed disclosure” and will hopefully signal for other states to abolish their own statutes of limitation as well.

We echo the statement made by New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler. “This bill will enable survivors who are victims of federal child sex abuse offenses, including aggravated sexual abuse, sex trafficking, human trafficking, forced labor, and sexual exploitation, to seek civil damages in federal court regardless of the amount of time that has passed since the abuse,”

While civil claims bring a level of justice for many, investigating and preventing incidents of child sexual abuse are equally important. As it is, the United States lags behind the rest of the globe; we must catch up, and this legislation is one way to do so.

It is important to note that in civil claims the discovery process can be revealing and can help get information into the hands of parents and communities that will better protect children. For example, we have seen many cases where an allegation or inquiry into sexual crimes and cover-ups committed by clerics or other church staffers have inspired other victims to step forward. As we have seen in the past, a few of these previously unknown cases end up seeing criminal charges because the perpetrator never stopped.

This approved legislation renews our call for more action, especially in terms of federal investigations into institutions that abuse and cover-up abuse. Countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and Canada have all launched national investigations into crimes committed by Catholic clergy and we believe that it is long overdue for the United States to follow suit and send a message to institutions throughout the country that the abuse of children and the vulnerable will not be ignored or minimized any longer.

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

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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New Zealand Catholic Abuse Survivors Appeal to Pope

Media Release   13/09/2022

For immediate use

 

New Zealand Catholic Abuse Survivors Appeal to Pope

 

New Zealand nationwide

 

Survivors of sexual abuse by clergy and religious of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand have appealed directly to Pope Francis to help initiate an ‘urgent, independent and transparent review’ of the administration of the Church’s in-house national redress scheme.

This follows a failed appeal to the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference and the New Zealand Government’s exclusion of faith-based survivors from early compensation pay-outs. The Government wants faith-based institutions to continue with their own redress schemes.

However, abuse survivor and spokesperson for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in Aotearoa, Dr Christopher Longhurst, said victims and survivors in New Zealand were not being treated justly under the Catholic Church’s redress scheme.

Longhurst clarified that survivors were calling for a review of the Church’s handling of abuse complaints for reasons of an apparent lack of integrity and competence. He emphasised that the issue was ‘the repeated maladministration of complaints by church officials and the hierarchy’s failure to do anything about it.’ (Attached copy of letter to Pope Francis and translation, also available at link below).

Contact Dr Christopher Longhurst   Phone New Zealand 0223440496

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in Aotearoa New Zealand. Web http://www.snapnetwork.org/ | Email [email protected] 

https://www.snapnetwork.org/aotearoa_new_zealand


A former Utah city mayor and Latter-day Saints bishop charged with sexually abusing minors

(For Immediate Release September 9, 2022) 

A former Utah city mayor and Latter-day Saints bishop has been arrested on charges of sexually abusing at least three youngsters decades ago.

According to a probable cause statement, Carl Matthew Johnson, 77, was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Davis County prison in northern Utah on suspicion of seven charges of sex abuse of a minor.

Investigators say Johnson acknowledged abusing three victims in 1985, 1993, and 1996 and estimated there was a total of six victims as young as 2-years-old, according to the document. He told investigators he had struggled “controlling his sexual urges” most of his life.

Sadly, in the Mormon church and other denominations, church officials still often try to handle serious criminal matters quietly and internally, acknowledging an investigation later and often only under serious external pressure. 

We applaud the victims who bravely detailed their horror to investigators, we stand with them and wholeheartedly believe that other victims will hear them. Given Johnson's age and extended career, we suspect there are many more than six victims. We hope they find the fortitude and confidence to approach law enforcement with their information and get the help they need. We also encourage Mormon church authorities to move beyond brief, carefully prepared remarks and respond to claims of involvement in the most direct way imaginable.

There are two lessons here. First, those who see, suspect, and suffer child sex crimes must report to secular authorities, not church authorities. Second, when church figures suspect or know of child sex crimes, they must immediately contact the police, and not start “circling the wagons.” Johnson had full access to vulnerable children while working for the church and as an elected official. From our viewpoint, the community should be outraged. 

Utah SNAP Leader, Judy Larson shared comments with 2KUTV news, ‘Members of the church just don’t want to believe it, because, in the Mormon church, he lives just down the street.’

This is why at SNAP, we believe the line from the Academy Award-winning film "Spotlight" rings true: "It takes a village to abuse a child." However, we also know that a village with information or suspicions about abuse can also protect others from harm.

 CONTACT: Judy Larson, SNAP Board Member and Utah Leader ([email protected], 801-831-5277), Mike McDonnell, Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. priest facing charges of lewd conduct

(For Immediate Release September 6, 2022) 

Reverend Jaroslaw "Jerry" Gamrot, 58, of Holy Face Catholic Church and Little Flower School in Great Mills, has been charged in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred on a highway in July. Gamrot, a native of Poland who now resides in Frederick County, Maryland, was served with the accusations on August 21. Gamrot works under the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

We urge Cardinal Wilton Gregory to assist police in their investigation of this alleged crime by promptly contacting every parish where Fr. Gamrot worked and urging anybody who witnessed, suspected or was a victim of any crime to come forward and report it to secular authorities. Another news site reports that Gamrot has worked in other countries. Gregory must also formally notify his equivalents and authorities in those areas.

If these claims are shown to be accurate, we have every reason to believe that the accused perpetrator has previously committed similar lewd conduct. We are profoundly concerned not just for the parishioners of the church where Gamrot worked, but also for the youngsters at Little Flower School who are within his grasp.

We believe Gamrot's name, photo, and work history should be included in parish bulletins and webpages, along with a request for victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers to contact authorities. There are hundreds of parish newsletters, church websites, and pulpits where spoken statements might and should be made, urging anybody with information or suspicions to come forward.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578),  Becky Ianni, SNAP Virginia Leader ([email protected], 703-801-6044Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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