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).

Syracuse Catholic Priest Ordained in 2019 Arrested- Child Sex Crimes

(For Immediate Release September 6, 2023) 

Last week, a Syracuse Catholic priest was arrested for child sex crimesWe are grateful that law enforcement has charged the clergyman. However, we are concerned that there may be other victims and we urge the Diocese to do outreach. 

On August 31, the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of Reverend Nathan Brooks. The cleric is accused of inappropriate sexual contact with a child on multiple occasions from 2019 to 2021 in the Town of Homer and the City of Cortland. He has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child, forcible touching, and sexual abuse in the third degree. According to the Diocese, Brooks has been suspended from all priestly ministry at this time. 

We feel it is also incumbent upon the Diocese of Syracuse to announce this arrest in every place that Fr. Brooks was assigned either as a cleric or a seminarian and to beg anyone who may have experienced, witnessed, or suspected abuse to contact law enforcement.

Fr. Brooks was ordained in 2019. He worked at the Church of the Nativity at Saint Joseph in Lafayette, Immaculate Conception in Pompey, Saint Leo in Tully, and Saint Patrick Mission in Otisco. Recently, the Diocese reached a bankruptcy settlement agreement with the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors. At the time, Bishop Douglas J. Lucia said that the final settlement would include a commitment to strengthen safe environment protocols, "to further ensure the past does not repeat itself."  Yet sadly, rules and regulations do not protect children, and there is no effective protocol to screen for potential offenders. Parishioners and the public need to be aware of these facts, and remain alert for signs that a child is being groomed or harmed.

Each month we read, on average, two news reports about the arrest of Catholic clergy or staffers for sexual abuse or misconduct. This disturbing news from New York shows us once again that the persistent claims from Church officials that the abuse scandal is a thing of the past are simply not true. It is very much a thing of the present.

We encourage anyone who might have relevant information to call the Cortland County Sheriff's Office, 607-758-5599, directly.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications ([email protected], 267-261-0578)Melanie Sakoda, Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175) 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)

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Survivors challenge Bishop Michael Barber's need to resort to bankruptcy

 

For Immediate Release, September 5, 2023

Survivors and advocates have written to Bishop Michael Barber of the Diocese of Oakland, asking him to reconsider bankruptcy. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has researched the real estate portfolio of the Diocese, and believes that, as was the case in 2003, that the Diocese has ample non-essential assets to care for those survivors who filed lawsuits in the recently closed civil window without resorting to this extreme measure. 

A copy of the letter sent earlier today by email is attached below, as is the research SNAP conducted of the property holdings of the Diocese.

 

CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP Board of Directors Treasurer ([email protected], 415-341-6417), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175),   Joey Piscitelli, SNAP Northern California ([email protected], 925-262-3699) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board of Directors President ([email protected], 814- 341-8386), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Interim Executive Director ([email protected], 267-261-0578),

(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)

Link for SNAP Letter to Bishop Barber found here>>>

 


Judge Rules McCarrick not Competent to Stand Trial; SNAP Responds

(For Immediate Release August 30, 2023) 

Today a judge in Massachusetts dismissed the criminal case against former Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, saying that he was incompetent to stand trial.  The disgraced and defrocked McCarrick was being prosecuted for sexually assaulting a child decades ago. His attorneys claimed that the once-powerful 93-year-old American prelate suffered from dementia and lacked the mental capacity to stand trial.

Our hearts go out to McCarrick's accuser. We stand in solidarity with him and commend him for his pursuit of justice. We believe a verdict of guilty would have been rendered had the case been allowed to proceed. 

There is another case on behalf of the same survivor being prosecuted in Wisconsin. We hope that the courts in that state will reach a different decision, and finally allow this brave survivor his day in court.

McCarrick is the first Catholic cardinal in the United States to face criminal charges for child sex crimes. We hope that McCarrick's lengthy career as a Cardinal in the Catholic Church, despite early and continued reports of sexual abuse, will act as a lesson to Church officials.  Criminal behavior -- even at high levels -- must be reported to law enforcement immediately, not "investigated" internally. Otherwise, the scandal that accompanied the one-time Cardinal's fall from grace will be repeated in the future.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications ([email protected], 267-261-0578)Melanie Sakoda, Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175) 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)

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High Ranking Paulist Priest Resigns Position After Inappropriate Contact with a Woman

(For Immediate Release August 28, 2023) 

The second-in-command of an order of U.S. Catholic priests resigned after he confirmed a woman’s report in early August that he had touched her sexually a few days earlier. SNAP believes that the victim in this case deserves a lot of praise for speaking out so quickly. The Paulists are also to be commended for swiftly suspending the clergyman, and for notifying their communities about his suspension.

Fr. Frank Desiderio, the Vice President of the Paulist Fathers, stepped down last week after admitting that he made unwanted sexual contact with a woman. The victim contacted Paulist President Fr. René Constanza on August 10th. Fr. Desiderio has been a Paulist since 1978 and was ordained in 1982. As of August 24th, the Paulists claimed that there were no other reported incidents against the clergyman.

We continue to hear Catholic officials say incidents of sexual abuse by clergy are "a thing of the past." In our opinion, this is dangerous because it lulls the faithful into assuming that today's priests never pose a threat. Sadly, this is not true. There are new cases of juvenile and adult criminality reported each month.

Pope Francis has decreed that the sexual abuse of adults by priests is wrong and a canonical crime. We therefore urge the Paulist's to expand their list of accused to include those who, like Fr. Desiderio, harm parishioners who are over the age of majority.

We hope the Paulist Community is true to its statement of support for the victim. We also urge them to turn this information over to law enforcement, and we encourage law enforcement to act swiftly to investigate. Placement into a treatment facility has not been shown to be a panacea for clergy sex crimes in the past. Moreover, we know that those who engage in this type of behavior rarely have just one victim. We believe that there may be others who were hurt by Fr. Desiderio who are still suffering alone and in silence. We urge them to make a police report before going to the Church, and we hope that this case will assure them that their outcry will be taken seriously and that their voices will be safely heard.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Interim 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 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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Notorious Defrocked Michigan Priest Pleads Guilty; SNAP Responds

(For Immediate Release August 24, 2023) 

Timothy Crowley, a former priest at St. Thomas Rectory in Ann Arbor, has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Crowley was arrested in 2019 in Tempe, Arizona, and his case was dismissed after a preliminary examination. However, the Attorney General's office prevailed in an appeal to the Court of Appeals, and criminal charges were reinstated in 2022.

Crowley pleaded guilty in Washtenaw County Circuit Court to four felony counts of first-degree Criminal Sexual Conduct and four felony counts of second-degree Criminal Sexual Conduct related to his abuse three decades ago of a minor. This marks the ninth conviction secured by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and her team of investigators since the inquiries began in 2018. It is important to note that criminal charges have been levied in 11 cases, and two defendants remain in India awaiting extradition.

We are glad that Crowley is facing consequences for his actions, and we thank the victim-centered, trauma-informed investigation by the Michigan State Police and Attorney General Dana Nessel and the staff in the Department of Attorney General that this predator was tracked down and brought back to Michigan to face his crimes. This is something church officials should have done long ago.

 


Teacher in San Francisco Archdiocese Catholic high school accused of abuse; SNAP appalled that earlier reports were apparently ignored

For immediate release: August 22, 2023

 

A recent investigation by NBC Bay Area confirmed that the culture of covering up sexual abuse within Catholic institutions was not confined to ordained and vowed clerics, but also extended to lay employees. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is extremely disturbed that earlier reports about a teacher at a Jesuit high school in the San Francisco Archdiocese appear to have been ignored.

Peter Devine ran the drama program and taught English at St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in San Francisco for nearly 50 years. Last week, a lawsuit accused the popular teacher of aggressively kissing a freshman student in the school theater in 1996. The complaint said that the student was sent into a tailspin and has struggled with self-medication and self-harm since that time.

When the victim reported the abuse to Church officials in 2022, an outside law firm was hired to investigate the accusation. The probe not only sustained the former student’s claim, but it also looked into earlier reports of disturbing behavior by Devine from 2006 and 2020. These reports did not appear to have been adequately addressed.

The school claims that Devine was placed on administrative leave in April, 2022, following the survivor’s report, and that after “receiving the results of the investigation, SI immediately and promptly took appropriate action, and the teacher no longer works at SI.”  The teacher claims that he worked at the school through December of 2022, when he “retired.” Whatever the truth, what is truly discouraging is that after red flags were raised about Devine in 2006 and 2020, nothing was done to remove boys from harm’s way until 2022.


Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco files for bankruptcy; SNAP urges federal court to examine claim carefully

(For Immediate Release August 21, 2023) 

The only California diocese that has refused to post a list of abusers today filed for bankruptcy. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, hopes that the federal judge will examine the case carefully. Although the survivors’ group is certain that the Archdiocese is morally bankrupt, it does not believe that it is as financially strapped as it claims.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has repeatedly declined to divulge names of the perpetrators in his see, despite requests from survivors. SNAP knows that when such lists are published, there are always new perpetrators revealed from information in the "secret files."  This lack of transparency in San Francisco has kept parishioners and the public unaware of all of the hazards that lurked in the Archdiocese. We believe that the primary impetus for this bankruptcy is to keep information about abusers hidden.

We seriously doubt that the Archdiocese of San Francisco does not have the assets to settle these lawsuits, and we find it disturbing that Archbishop Cordileone claimed this is the "best way" for victims' lawsuits to be resolved. We can only hope that the federal judge closely examines the Archdiocese’s real estate holdings, which are spread across three of the richest counties in the United States. We also hope that the judge will not be fooled by the fact that title to some property is held by churches, schools, or other Catholic entities. Should the Archbishop decide to liquidate those assets, the holder of the title will likely find themselves powerless to stop him.

It is also very important to remember that this legal maneuver does not just affect those survivors who have filed lawsuits. Once the deadline for claims in the bankruptcy has passed, any recourse for victims injured before that deadline are also all extinguished. Even a six-year old, who is being abused now but whose assaults end before the deadline, would be prevented from suing for reparations. If no fund for future claims is set up as part of the bankruptcy, or if it is empty when that child is finally able to come forward, they will not receive any compensation for their injuries.


Mobile priest runs off to Italy with a recent high school grad; SNAP wants answers from his Archbishop

For immediate release: August 21, 2023

 Last week disturbing reports revealed that a 30 -year-old Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Mobile fled to Europe with an 18-year-old teen, saying that Jesus told them that they should leave and not return to Alabama. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, wonders why it took so long for the Archbishop to act in this case, and why he had not released more information about the scandal to the faithful and the public.

 McGill-Toolen High School in Mobile admitted that Fr. Alex Crow sat in on classes and took confessions there in 2021, the same year that he was ordained.  Earlier this summer, Fr. Crow traveled to Europe with a just-turned 18-year-old graduate of McGill-Toolen, and Mobile law enforcement released two letters the cleric wrote that suggests that Fr. Crow’s relationship with the teen was inappropriate, including a Valentine’s Day love letter to the teen.

Despite reports that parents had complained about Fr. Crow to the Archdiocese, including insisting that the clergyman stay away from another girl, Archbishop Thomas John Rodi appears to have done nothing in response. Fr. Crow was still able to go with a group of students to Italy in June. It was only after the clergyman and the 18-year-old did not return to Alabama that Archdiocese announced that he exhibited behavior “unbecoming of a priest” and that he “may no longer exercise ministry as a priest.” It is extremely disappointing that the Archbishop was not open about what had transpired, and that he did not mention or express any concern for the teen.

 


A large settlement reached in clergy abuse case in Philadelphia- SNAP applauds the brave victim

 

(For Immediate Release August 9, 2023) 

 

A victim of a notorious predator priest who had a very long career in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has reached a settlement with church officials for $3.5 million. The courageous survivor, whose identity remains confidential, has been commended for his bravery in disclosing his suffering, seeking justice in court, and enduring a lengthy litigation process.

The size of this settlement reflects the overwhelming evidence that Catholic officials possess, revealing their repeated and callous disregard for the safety of children. Fearing the exposure of incriminating information in court or in the public domain, they have resorted to compensating victims and their insurers have followed suit.

Media reports indicate that in March 2011, Father John Close was among 21 priests placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior with minors. These suspensions followed the release of the second grand jury report, which identified over 30 priests in active ministry accused of sexual misconduct.

 


Notorious Catholic predator priest is free, living in Orlando; SNAP urges outreach

(For Immediate Release August 9, 2023) 

One of Florida’s most prolific Catholic clergy abusers has been released from prison and is living in a residential neighborhood. A national support group for clergy sex abuse victims is asking two bishops to warn local parents, parishioners, and the public about him.

 Fr. Neil Augustine (Gus) Doherty is now living in Orlando, according to the Florida sex offender registry. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is sending a letter to Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Orlando Bishop John Noonan, urging them to use their “vast resources” to alert the local community that a potentially dangerous serial predator now walks free in their streets.

More than two dozen men have come forward to date, accusing Fr. Doherty of molesting them as children, sometimes after drugging them. In 2013, the priest pleaded no contest to lewd assault/sexual battery of a victim under the age of 16 and was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

The Miami Catholic hierarchy, where Fr. Doherty was ordained in 1969, was warned of the priest's behavior as early as 1971, but kept him in active ministry until 2002 (Florida Attorney General’s Report, page 17). Fr. Doherty’s assignment history can be found here.


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