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).

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)


Papal Visit To Papua New Guinea Highlights Catholic Church’s Child Sexual Abuse Scandal

The upcoming visit to Papua New Guinea by Pope Francis highlights the practice of Catholic Church leaders sending child sexual predators to work among vulnerable people in the developing world, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP Oceania).

SNAP was referring to the upcoming papal visit to PNG in August this year, and a report by New Zealand’s Royal Commission into Abuse in Care, “Stolen Lives, Marked Souls,” and the Final Report of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The New Zealand inquiry into the Order of the Brothers of St John of God at Marylands School and Hebron Trust, Christchurch, recognised that members of St John of God were sent from Australia and New Zealand to Papua New Guinea. “Stolen Lives, Marked Souls,” July 2023 stated: “The practice of regularly relocating brothers, whether because of abuse or for other reasons, contributed to much higher levels of offending than would otherwise have been the case.”


Diocese of Nashville sat on accusations against child rapist; SNAP says parishioners should be angry

For immediate release: March 21, 2024

Once again, Catholic officials appear to have been caught endangering children. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), believes that the faithful should be concerned that such behavior apparently still continues despite the promises of 2002.

In February of 2022, Michael Lewis pleaded guilty to four counts of statutory rape for assaulting a student at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Murfreesboro. The assaults began in 2014 when Lewis was the 36-year-old director of religious studies at the school and the girl, “Jane Doe,” was a 13-year-old eighth grader. The abuse continued until the fall of 2016.  Lewis was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his crimes.

Disturbingly, documents recently unsealed in the lawsuit filed by Jane Doe against the Diocese of Nashville appear to show that the Diocese was warned as early as 2008 that Lewis posed a risk to young girls. SNAP thinks that prudent people should ask “If Nashville Catholic officials hid accusations against a layman in 2008, what information about abusive clergy might they be sitting on?”


Sacramento Catholic bishop will file for bankruptcy on April 1; to SNAP this is no joke

For Immediate Release: March 18, 2024

This weekend, parishioners in the Diocese of Sacramento learned that their bishop would file for bankruptcy on April 1st.  SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, sadly acknowledges that this is no joke, and again urges Bishop Jaime Soto to reconsider this scorched earth legal tactic.

Bankruptcy is not the only way to achieve fair recoverys 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.


Victims group seeks help from area ministers

Victims group seeks help from area ministers

 

SNAP to church leaders: ‘Help us help the wounded’

 

Organization writes 25+ congregations in ‘outreach effort’

 

‘We can’t be complacent now; much remains to be done,’ it says

 

Group plans two local meetings – one private, one open - in the weeks ahead

 

A support group for abuse victims is writing to more than two dozen churches in Wayne County asking them for help in finding and consoling anyone who’s been hurt at Lighthouse Christian Academy, where three officials have recently been arrested.

 

It also plans to hold two meetings in the Piedmont area in the weeks ahead.

 

“Now is not the time to be complacent,” SNAP’s letter reads. It wants “to find and help the 'lost sheep' - anyone who was hurt at Lighthouse, recently or in years past. . .so they won’t have to “suffer in shame, silence and self-blame.”

 

The group is urging ministers to preach about the Lighthouse scandal from the pulpit, give out and post leaflets about the situation to their members and urge anyone with knowledge or suspicions about the facility to contact law enforcement. 

 

In the weeks ahead, SNAP plans to hold two meetings in Wayne County. “One will be a private, confidential support group meeting for anyone who was violated as a child anywhere,” the letter notes. “The other will be an open, public discussion and Q & A session about the Lighthouse/ABM Ministries scandal.”

 

SNAP is seeking meeting space at a local church.

 


SNAP Applauds Ruling in Maryland CVA Challenge

For Immediate Release March 6, 2024 

A significant Maryland law that permits survivors of childhood sexual abuse to sue regardless of how long ago the alleged assault occurred survived a constitutional challenge on Wednesday. We applaud Circuit Judge Robin D. Gill Bright's ruling today. 

Institutions and the insurance industry have long lobbied against reforms that benefit child victims. We are elated for the many victim-survivors who deserve validation and justice. 'The challenge to constitutionality alone tells us that the catholic church continues to deny accountability. Never should we trust twice what they have shown us once. I am thrilled survivors have again prevailed.' Mike McDonnell, SNAP Executive Director

 

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 267-261-0578) David Lorenz, SNAP Maryland leader ([email protected], 301-906-9161) 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 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

                                                                                         ###


SNAP wants boarding school employee fired

For immediate release: Tuesday, March 5

 

Victims’ group also passed out fliers in the Piedmont area recently

 

“Call law enforcement if you see, suspect or suffer any wrongdoing,” survivors urge

 

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging officials at a southern Missouri faith-based boarding school to fire an employee who is accused of abusing children. The owners of the facility, Larry and Carmen Musgraves, were arrested Friday by the local sheriff’s department on charges of first-degree kidnapping and were jailed without bond.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, recently wrote to top officials at Lighthouse Christian Academy, a.k.a. ABM Ministries, including the Musgraves. In the letter, the survivors’ group begged them to remove Julio Sandoval from the premises and payroll of its facility just outside Piedmont in Wayne County.

Sandoval previously worked at Agape Boarding School in Stockton, Missouri, for 10 years. In August of 2022, Sandoval was arrested on federal charges of violating a protective order issued at the request of a student. Sandoval was accused of taking the student against his will and transporting him from Fresno, California, to Agape the previous August. Sandoval was working as dean of students at the school at the time.

Sandoval has pleaded not guilty to the charges and a jury trial is scheduled for October. He could receive up to five years in prison if convicted.

Also, during Sandoval’s tenure as dean of Agape, the Missouri Highway Patrol launched an investigation into abuse of students at the school. In September of 2021, the Cedar County prosecuting attorney charged five staff members with 13 counts of third-degree assault.

In 2022, The Kansas City Star reported that Missouri’s child welfare agency had substantiated 10 reports of physical abuse at Agape. Multiple sources at the time told The Star that several staffers appealed their findings. They said Sandoval was among them. His case is still pending, and state law allows staffers to work with children while their case is under appeal.

In addition, last fall, Kathleen Britt sued Agape, claiming that her son’s death stemmed from abuse he suffered at the facility. Among those named in the suit was the company that transported students to the school, which is owned by Sandoval.

 

 


Abuse Scandal Rocks Catholic School in Southwestern France: SNAP Applauds Survivors for Coming Forward

For immediate release: March 5, 2024

A criminal investigation was launched last month following reports of physical and sexual abuse at a private Catholic boarding school in Betharram, at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains near Lourdes. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, believes and fully supports the former students who have filed dozens of complaints.


Leaked Michigan police report points to Alabama Catholic Bishop covering up abuse; SNAP reacts

For immediate release: March 4, 2024

An Alabama blog, Birmingham Diocesan Watch, anonymously received a copy of a 2007 Flint, Michigan, police report earlier this year. The report indicated that Fr. Steven Raica of the Diocese of Lansing was told by an 8-year-old boy that the child had been brutally assaulted by Fr. Vincent Anthony DeLorenzo from May to June of 1978. The victim said that the assaults stopped after he talked with Fr. Raica.  At the time of the victim’s disclosure, Fr. Raica was a deacon in Michigan. He is now Bishop Raica and leads the Diocese of Birmingham.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has questions about what Bishop Raica did or did not do after he learned of Fr. DeLorenzo’s assaults on the victim. Michigan’s Child Protection Law, which was enacted in 1975, required clergy to report abuse to the civil authorities at the time of disclosure. The police did not have a report on the assaults prior to the victim’s 2007 disclosure.


SNAP says: It matters when survivors of sexual abuse speak out!

For immediate release: March 1, 2024

Former Connecticut State Representative John Metsopoulos reported sexual, psychological, and physical abuse by two Greek Orthodox bishops on the SNAP website in November of 2023. His outcry has apparently produced repercussions for one of the two prelates. We are very happy for John!

John named Metropolitan Athenagoras Aneste (George Angelo Aneste), the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Mexico and Central America, as his primary abuser. A metropolitan is the equivalent of an archbishop or a cardinal. According to the January 24, 2024, issue of Orthodox Times, a new metropolitan was elected for Mexico, and Metropolitan Athenagoras was elected as the new metropolitan of Vize, Turkey. As far as we can tell this is a significant demotion.


SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant