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 Release of Report by Maryland Attorney General Office

(For Immediate Release February 28, 2023)

We are incredibly appreciative that Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Robert Taylor Jr. has decided to allow the public to see a redacted copy of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office report on the history of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. While this is a victory for transparency, we hope that at some point in the future, the entire report will become available.

Judge Taylor ordered that the names of those who had not been previously identified publicly and who were accused of abusing children, covering up abuse, silencing victims, or otherwise helping to hide and enable abuse, were to be redacted from the public report. The judge said that those 208 people were entitled to be notified they were in the report and given a chance to review the portion of the report that addresses their involvement.

As frustrating as it may be to not see this crucial information, survivors know even without viewing a page of the report that it will likely show widespread sexual abuse of children and a systematic coverup by leaders of the Catholic Church.

We are well aware that going up against this institution is difficult due to its immense wealth and power. We applaud the Attorney General's efforts to secure the public disclosure of most of the investigative report. Once more, the rule of law has gained a partial victory despite pushback from an "anonymous group" of 16 of those named in the report whose legal fees were paid, at least in part, by the Catholic Church.

We are relieved to know that the horrifying experiences of the survivors who spoke openly with investigators and who worried that their efforts would be in vain, will now be made public. We believe disclosing the extent to which the Church went to shield information, and documenting the immense pain that the victims underwent as a result, will do much to ensure that these crimes never occur within the Catholic community in Maryland again.

CONTACT: David Lorenz, SNAP Maryland leader ([email protected], 301-906-9161), Becky Ianni, Virginia and DC SNAP leader ([email protected], (703) 801-6044)  Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, 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 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is



SNAP Responds to Motion to Dismiss Case Against Former Cardinal McCarrick

(For Immediate Release February 28, 2023) 

Lawyers for former Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick filed a motion on Monday to dismiss the criminal charges against him.  McCarrick is accused of sexually assaulting a boy decades ago. His attorneys claim that the 92-year-old once-powerful American prelate has dementia and is not competent to stand trial.

McCarrick is the first current or former U.S. Catholic cardinal to face criminal charges for child sex offenses. He entered a not-guilty plea in the case in September 2021.

Our hearts ache for McCarrick's victim and we stand in solidarity with him as this case drags on. We are glad that the prosecution is hiring its own expert to conduct a second opinion on competency. Like the lawyer representing this survivor, Mitchell Garabedian, we are suspicious of the incompetency claim. Regardless of the final decision in this case, we will always believe the testimony of this victim.

Everyone, including those accused of child sexual abuse, is entitled to due process. However, we are skeptical that someone who held one of the most powerful positions in the Catholic Church not that long ago is now unable to assist in his own defense. Given our experience, we suspect that this tactic has more to do with protecting the reputation of the institution from what would be revealed at trial.

We urge anyone who sees McCarrick acting like a competent adult to immediately contact the prosecutor so that the survivor's truth will be allowed to come to light.

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 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is


Diocese of Sacramento Contemplates Bankruptcy; SNAP reacts

(For Immediate Release February 28, 2023) 

The Diocese of Sacramento is considering bankruptcy. In our opinion, bishops' bankruptcies are usually about keeping secrets first, then protecting assets. Regardless of what Bishop Jaime Soto may say, we humbly request that all Catholics, law enforcement officials, and elected officials continue to put the victims of these heinous crimes first. They deserve justice and compensation since they have endured a lifetime of suffering.

We know that when courageous survivors come forward with their claims, secrets are going to be made public. That is when Catholic dioceses begin looking to the bankruptcy court for protection. For their bravery and moral character, these long-suffering victims deserve praise. They were let down by a group that was supposed to foster their spirituality, moral development, and well-being. Survivors are helping to make the community safer for future generations by speaking out and sharing their stories. Yet until all the information on these crimes comes to light, children cannot be kept safe.

It is a reality that for many years the Catholic Church ignored cases of clergy sexually abusing and raping children. These facts are increasingly beyond dispute. What people were led to believe was a house of worship was often a place where boys and girls were groomed and molested. These perpetrator clerics joined the Church because they knew they would have access to children, receive a salary, have a place to live, and could count on their bishop to assist them in avoiding prosecution. There are simply too many abusers in the priesthood to draw any other inference.

SNAP Responds to Attempts to Shield Assets in the Diocese of San Diego.

(For Immediate Release February 23, 2023)

In one of the least shocking stories we have seen in 2023, a Catholic diocese that recently announced its intention to file for bankruptcy to escape culpability for decades of enabling childhood sexual abuse has been accused in a separate lawsuit of shielding assets to artificially lower their appraisal value and pay out less money to those survivors. Something this disturbing should be shocking behavior from supposed faith leaders, but in reality, this move is all too common.

The Diocese of San Diego – which is currently being sued by more than 400 people who were raped or abused by San Diego clergy, brothers, nuns, and other staffers – has been accused in a new lawsuit of transferring nearly three hundred pieces of property in order to conceal the true assets of the Diocese. This move is one that many Catholic dioceses around the country have taken; recent examples include Albuquerque, Camden, Milwaukee, and Santa Fe. This is merely the latest example of Catholic leaders abusing bankruptcy laws for their own benefit, a darkly ironic statement given they are in this position in the first place for wantonly ignoring and enabling the sexual abuse of children.

We are tired of reading this same headline and bemoaning the same legal problem that experts have been pointing out for years. We are tired of seeing survivors finally getting a shot at justice before the rug is pulled out from under them, and they are once again forced into silence due to the rules of bankruptcy proceedings. We are frustrated seeing more old, white men hoarding money like Smaug the dragon instead of accepting responsibility for their myriad crimes and compensating the victims of those crimes as they deserve.

We cannot help but recognize the fact that the Catholic leadership has used increasingly creative methods to protect their money and reputations, whether through the creation and sale of insurance companies, applying for tax-free PPP loans without needing them, or the raiding of funds earmarked for the impoverished. In these ways, the Church double-dips the American taxpayer; first by paying no taxes of their own, second by abusing taxpayer-funded programs that were not meant for them, and third by shifting the economic burden created by the child sexual abuse they enabled to others. According to a study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the total economic burden from child sex crimes is approximately $9.3 billion per year and includes costs associated with health care, child welfare, special education, violence and crime, suicide, and survivor productivity losses. Child USA puts the lifetime economic impact of one case of child sexual abuse at $850,000.00, so given current Catholic victim counts in the US (link?), that means this burden is nearly $21 billion and growing by the day.

It is high time that the rules of the bankruptcy court are amended so that dioceses and archdioceses in the world’s richest institution can stop falsely claiming indigence when they really only care about silencing victims and ensuring their stories do not reach the faithful and the public. For too long, our federal legislators have sat on the sidelines while men in positions of power abuse that power to the detriment of children, parents, and communities nationwide. This is an issue that must be addressed federally, and it must be addressed now.

Contact: Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), 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 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is


Bankruptcy Plan Approved for Diocese of Harrisburg; SNAP Responds

(For Immediate Release February 15, 2023) 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg received court approval of a bankruptcy plan that establishes an $18.25 million trust to pay clergy abuse victims and puts in place stipulated child protection protocols. Nearly three years after they first filed for bankruptcy, church officials from the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA have released details on their plan to compensate survivors. Unsurprisingly, this plan is clearly more about protecting assets and secrets than it is providing restorative justice to adults who were traumatized as children by church employees.

The simple fact is that monetary reparations for a lifetime of bearing the pain of abuse is pittance in the grand scheme of things, especially given the vast wealth of the church. There is no way to make up for the lifelong suffering brought on by sexual assault, and the sham that is Harrisburg church officials claiming indigence only adds to that suffering.

Critically, church officials should be made to update their list of abusers to include the new names learned during the bankruptcy process. In a similar vein, they ought to be providing local law police with all information related to sex offenses, regardless of the abuser's status. Finally, they should use all resources at their disposal – include diocesan websites and parish bulletins – to ensure that parishioners are aware of these updates and to encourage survivors to come forward and report to police.



(For Immediate Release February 15, 2023) 

Texas child sex abuse survivors and advocates are joining forces to shine a light on the need for statute of limitations (SOL) reform. It is time for Texas to update its laws so that survivors can file a lawsuit no matter how long ago the abuse took place, and no matter how old the survivor is. It is time for Texas to catch up with 24 other states who have retroactive or revival legislation. We demand zero tolerance for child abusers that continue to find their way into schools, churches, camps and anywhere our children have the right to be safe from sexual abuse.

We support HB 206,1 filed by Rep. Ann Johnson (D), and SB 751,2 filed by Senator Pete Flores (R), as they at last create a survivor-centered and trauma-informed landscape in our Texas legislature.  Laws that are retroactive, reviving previously expired SOLs, will allow survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA) to take legal action against perpetrators, and the institutions who enabled them. Civil litigation exposes hidden predators, an important issue with statistics3 revealing that 70% of child predators have between 1 and 9 victims, and 20% have 10-40 victims. 

We believe it is time for Texas to catch up to the neuroscience behind the trauma4 of CSA that explains why most survivors delay disclosure5 of the abuse. Trauma can block certain brain pathways, as a survival mode for abused children. Memories are buried, often resurfacing later in life, with triggering events or, ideally, with psychological treatment. The average age of disclosure of CSA is 52,6 and with our current laws, most Texas survivors of older abuse are barred from seeking justice in either criminal or civil courts.

The effects of child sexual abuse has been estimated to cost the federal government over $9 billion dollars a year.7 The adverse effects of childhood trauma leads to multiple health risk behaviors8 as adults, resulting in negative impacts on lifelong health. It is time to shift the cost of child sexual abuse away from victims and taxpayers to the ones who caused it. 

The long-term effects of trauma from CSA,9 such as depression, anxiety, suicide risk, substance use disorder, and autoimmune disease, often keep victims from fully functioning in life,  making it difficult to pursue justice in a timely manner. It should never be “too late” for survivors to speak up to get the justice and healing they deserve. 

Come join us on the South Steps of the Texas Capitol on Wednesday, February 15, at 9 am to learn more about Texas SOL reform. Come stand with other survivors as we demand real change so Texas can become a leader in protecting children. 

Speakers include Representative Ann Johnson and the Legislative Director for Senator Pete Flores; Dr. Amy Kemter, a San Antonio Psychotherapist; Michael Johnson, the previous Youth Protection Advisor of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), who exposed unsafe conditions in the BSA revealing that the organization was not safe for children; Joe Alarcon, Kanakuk Abuse Survivor Advocate, Amarillo …, and SNAP leaders from all over Texas. Discover the shocking statistics of the Boy Scouts Child Sex Abuse cases in Texas (and across the US). Talk to advocates who worked tirelessly in other states to make SOL reform a reality for survivors. Let us stand together and share our stories. Rally for change and feel the power of solidarity. Time’s up, Texas! Time to join the SOL reform movement. Together, we WILL make it happen: Support HB206! and SB751!

Contact: Patti Koo, SNAP San Antonio ([email protected] 956-648-7385); Zac Zepeda, SNAP San Antonio ([email protected] 210-317-7511); Lisa Kendzior, SNAP DFW ([email protected] 817-773-5907); Debbie Dappen, SNAP ([email protected] 877-762-7432); Eduardo Lopez, SNAP Board member, Spanish-speaking, SNAP Houston ([email protected] 832-641-6319); Amber Perez, SNAP Houston ([email protected] 512-695-9402); Carol Midboe, SNAP Austin ([email protected] 512-596-2022); Richard Windmann, Ph.D., Founder & President, Survivors of Child Sex Abuse (SCSA) DFW ([email protected] 682-710-1965) Jillian Coburn, Victim Advocate, Austin ([email protected] 737-757-4774); Curtis Garrison, Founder & President, (Speak Out to Stop Child Sex Abuse)/, DFW ([email protected] 214-808-2878); Joe Alarcon, Kanakuk Abuse Survivor Advocate ([email protected] 806-672-2019).



  1. Bill Text: TX HB206 | 2023-2024 | 88th Legislature | Introduced | LegiScan

  2. Bill Text: TX SB751 | 2023-2024 | 88th Legislature | Introduced | LegiScan

  3. Untitled (

  4. Neurobiology of emotional trauma - PubMed (

  5. Delayed Disclosure (


  7. One Year's Losses for Child Sexual Abuse in U.S. Top $9 Billion, New Study Suggests | Johns Hopkins | Bloomberg School of Public Health (

  8. Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults - American Journal of Preventive Medicine (

  9. Frontiers | Psychobiological Consequences of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Current Knowledge and Clinical Implications (

SNAP reacts to report published by a Portuguese panel funded by the country's Catholic bishops

(For Immediate Release February 13, 2023) 

Yet another report has been released that shows yet another country saw thousands of their children harmed and abused by priests, nuns, and other Roman Catholic staffers. Our hearts break for the families and survivors devastated by this abuse and hope that this report leads to secular reform that will better protect children.

According to a report published by a Portuguese panel funded by the country's Catholic bishops, approximately 5000 children were abused by Catholic clergy. According to the report, many of the molestation cases involved boys, and some of the victims were as young as two years old. One victim claimed he had been living in a "black hole" throughout his testimony. Our hearts break for him and for all the children who have endured years of abuse at the hands of adults who are supposed to be God's trusted representatives. We commend this survivor for sharing his experience.

While we are grateful that numbers have been released, it is beyond disturbing to learn there are no named abusers in the report. While we are glad that the panel is not publishing the names of the victims, we do believe there is a public interest in the identities of the alleged abusers and the places the abuses allegedly happened.

The panel is to send to bishops by the end of the month a list of alleged abusers who are still active in the church. This is a good step in theory, but church officials clearly do the bare minimum when it comes to protecting children. We call on church officials to prominently publish the name, photo, place of residence, and work history of abusive clergy, regardless of whether they are dead or alive, and we hope that the panel will review this information to make sure it is fully complete.

Additionally, we believe the commission's suggestion to raise the reporting threshold for crimes to 30 is unconvincing. Studies have shown that the average age at which a survivor comes forward is 52, and delayed disclosure is a medical fact. In our opinion, there should be no threshold at all for reports. Survivors should be empowered to come forward whenever they are ready and able, and secular law enforcement should be able to act on those reports instead of being time-barred by an arbitrary statute.

Based on other reports we have read, we view this information as the tip of the iceberg in Portugal. Investigation and intervention from secular authorities are the best way to root out ongoing abuse, discover historical cases, and bring healing and prevention to communities. To us, immediate action is needed, and it includes the dismissal of any bishop, chancellor, vicar general, or other church hierarchs who is complicit in what has happened. Without change at the top, nothing will change.

We are saddened, not shocked, that there may only be 30 instances brought to court. Until criminal and civil liability ends, keeping the molestation suspects hidden and, on the move, will be the church’s action. As we see it, learning about past crimes is only valuable if it prompts efforts that help stop sexual abuse and cover-ups in the future. We call on the secular authorities and prosecutors in Portugal to recognize that cover-ups are both common and illegal. Law enforcement may play a key role in defending the vulnerable and offering comfort to those who are suffering when they aggressively investigate these historical crimes. We urge Catholics to demand accountability from church authorities. Believe victims when they speak up and act on their requests.

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, (814-341-8386 [email protected])

(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

SNAP Cites Concerns in Diocese of San Diego Bankruptcy Consideration

(For Immediate Release February 11, 2023) 

The bishop of San Diego, Cardinal Robert McElroy, says the San Diego diocese can't afford to pay the 400 victims who have filed suit in this Child Victims Act civil (CVA) window, and that bankruptcy is an option. 

Before that route is taken, the Cardinal should provide a comprehensive list of all its real estate and other assets. Advocates in Oakland in 2002 analyzed Oakland's asset base when its chancellor claimed it couldn't afford to pay survivors and maintain its "vital" ministries and discovered two thousand real estate parcels worth over $1 billion. Oakland paid its obligations and in fact, built a $150 million dollar plus Cathedral after the claims were paid. 

Real estate values since have tripled. so has the stock market. San Diego is a wealthier real estate market than Oakland's two counties, and it defies common sense that the San Diego bishop is broke. He can borrow against church properties to meet obligations to men and women who have suffered for years if all else fails. McElroy should be strong-arming his insurance carriers before attempting to stiff survivors who had no power as children and were molested and raped. 

We must not forget that an earlier diocesan administration in San Diego tried the same approach during the previous CVA cycle in 2004. The San Diego diocese was found to have lied about its assets by advocates. It defeated that bankruptcy as a result and a judge scolded the diocese.

Regardless of the outcome this time around, we call on California Attorney General Rob Bonta of California to use the powers of his office, including subpoena power, to get to the answers and secrets that church officials are trying to keep by moving toward bankruptcy. California has the largest Catholic population in the nation. We know that secular investigations produce the most evidence in cases of sexual abuse by ordained, professed, or lay professionals employed by the Catholic church. Insolvency is yet another track for church officials to run away from the reality of abuse and revictimize those who suffered the most harm.

The truth about how the abuse was tolerated, by whom, and where, as well as all other real evidence, are equally as vital to survivors and their families as reparations are; without that truth, a safe Catholic diocese in San Diego will not emerge, and these crimes will be replayed.

Contact: Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), 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 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is



Deacon Under Investigation in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee


(For Immediate Release February 8, 2023) 

A Catholic deacon from the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee is being investigated by the Florida Department of Children and Families. SNAP urges the Diocese to be completely open and transparent about the nature of the complaints against the deacon.

Michele Kenaga, principal of Little Flower Catholic School in Pensacola, recently posted a letter notifying the parents and guardians of children at the school of this development.  She wrote, "On Thursday, February 2, Little Flower Catholic School received a complaint from three students regarding Deacon Tom Gordon. It is currently being investigated, and we will let you know when more information is available. At this time, Deacon Gordon is not serving in ministry until we receive the outcome of the investigation. The protection and safety of our children are of the utmost importance to all our families at Little Flower Catholic School and Parish."

The Diocese also provided a statement to WKRG News 5 saying, “Sexual misconduct by church clergy, employees and volunteers violates human dignity and the mission of the Catholic Church. The spiritual well-being of all victims, their families, and others in the community is of particular concern to the Church.”

We consider it a great sign when affected students report their concerns to people that they trust, and those people act on those concerns. However, we call on Church officials from the Diocese and administrators at the church and school to be completely transparent with parishioners and the public as to the nature of the three complaints.

We also encourage anyone who may have seen, suffered, or suspected wrongdoing by Deacon Gordon or any other staffer in the Diocese to come forward and report to law enforcement. Speaking out is the first step on the road to healing.

CONTACT: Gene Rosenquest , SNAP Leader Florida (407-668-1801 [email protected]) Sally Zakhari , SNAP Leader Florida (407-758-4874 [email protected]) Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manage,( [email protected], 267-261-0578)  Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

Pennsylvania Acting Attorney General Announces Charges Against Men in Jehovah's Witnesses Congregation

(For Immediate Release February 7, 2023) 

We applaud Pennsylvania Acting Attorney General Michelle Henry who announced today the arrests and criminal charges in multiple child Sex Abuse cases across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The charges were returned to the Office of Attorney General by the 49th investigative grand jury.

Five men, all of whom were involved with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, were charged with sexual assault offenses involving minors, some of their own families. The charges were filed against Marc Brown of Allegheny County, Raymond Shultz of Beaver County, Abimael Valentin-Matos of Lancaster County, Kevin Isovitsch of Butler County, and Normal Aviles of Lancaster County.

We know that pursuing justice against these perpetrators would not be possible if it were not for the strength and courage of the brave victims who stepped forward by calling the Office of Attorney General to report these crimes. We understand it’s hard for victims to speak up, but that’s what it takes to see justice, safeguard others, expose predators, and prevent crimes.

This case reads like so many others that have been heard for the past several decades, abuse facilitated within a faith-based community. Abusive men who used the faith community to prey upon their victims. We’ve seen this before. Yet just because this is nothing new doesn’t mean that the actions aren’t just as horrific. How can it be that leaders of a faith group could acknowledge relationships involving children? How could it happen that, even with the media attention paid to sexual abuse scandals since 2002, that faith leaders and abusers alike would continue to follow the same old playbook? We believe this is the tip of the iceberg and hope that further charges will be brought against others complicit in these crimes.

To us, these tragedies serve as an example that abuse should be reported to law enforcement only. We sincerely hope that anyone else who may have been harmed or has knowledge involving these crimes or others within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, call the Office of Attorney General hotline at 888-538-8541. These cases are being prosecuted by Chief Deputy Attorney General Christopher Jones at 717-787-3391.

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, (814-341-8386 [email protected])


(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

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