MI--Accused Catholic sex offender case gets more delays; Victims urge “speed”
For immediate release: Thursday, June 16, 2016
A Detroit Catholic school official charged in 2014 with child sex crimes continues to win delay after delay after delay. For the safety of kids, the healing of victims and the health of the church and its schools, we urge judges and prosecutors to speed up this case.
It’s been more than a year and a half since a Ray Township teacher at Austin Catholic Academy first faced allegations that he sent sexually graphic emails to a child.
We call on Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron to personally visit the school where the alleged predator worked, begging victims, witnesses, employees, former employees, alumni, students, staff and whistleblowers to call law enforcement if they have any information or suspicions about the alleged crimes.
All too often, child molesters get expensive lawyers, exploit loopholes, and escape responsibility for their crimes. Even when they’re found guilty or plead guilty, they often rally their friends, pressure public officials and end up with little or no jail time. That’s irresponsible. That endangers kids.
The way to prevent this is simple: every person who has even a scintilla of information about Joseph Sturza’s crimes or misdeeds must call 911. This is no time to be complacent. Each one of us has a moral and civic duty to protect children by helping law enforcement catch and convict predators.
And all too often, Catholic officials passively sit back in criminal cases and do nothing. Vigneron has a moral and civic duty too: to use his vast resources (church bulletins, parish websites and pulpit announcements) to reach out to others who may have been hurt by Sturza and prod them to get help.
We commend the parents who had the wisdom to work with law enforcement and not church officials. That is a brave and responsible course of action. And we beg anyone else who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Sturza or cover ups by church officials to step forward too.
No matter what lawmakers or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic institutions – especially in schools – to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)