MN - Catholic panels re-victimizes girl; SNAP responds

For immediate release: Monday, Oct. 14, 2013

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell,[email protected])

Shame on Archbishop John Nienstedt and his nameless, hand-picked Review Board who refused to oust an accused child molesting priest “given his effectiveness in many areas of his work.”

So if an accused predator priest is just average, Nienstedt’s panel might recommend suspending him.

But if he’s “effective,” they won’t?

(NOTE – the Review Board is a different panel than the Task Force named last week. The Review Board makes recommendations to Nienstedt about accused priests. The Task Force will make recommendations to Nienstedt about abuse policies.)

Notice how this young woman describes her experiences with archdiocesan staff, according to Minnesota Public Radio:

Before the case went before the clergy review board, Sawyer and other church officials asked her to tell her story over and over again, she said. At first, she agreed, but it soon became overwhelming, she said. "For me to just say I was abused by Michael Keating wasn't enough," she said.

She decided to make video for the archdiocese so she wouldn't have to keep telling her story.

At a meeting in the chancery — the headquarters of the archdiocese — in June 2006, she said, Keating watched the video with her family, Flynn, McDonough, Eisenzimmer and Sawyer, she said.

"I'm not sure what the point of the meeting was," she said.

Sawyer, the victims' advocate, told her that the clergy review board would investigate her claims and determine whether she had been abused. The woman, then in her early 20s, was called to testify before the board. Sawyer allowed her to bring one family member for support.

The review board included at least one priest, a psychologist, and an architect, among others, she said. It didn't make sense, she thought.

Board members lobbed questions as though it were a game of pinball, she said.

No detail escaped scrutiny. Someone asked whether Keating's penis was erect when he touched her. "I was like, does it matter?" she said.

She left the review board meeting with a familiar, terrible ache. "I felt like I was traumatized again by that," she said. "I just felt numb."

"It felt like a betrayal times two," she said. "First time, I'm betrayed by Keating, and then I'm betrayed by the archdiocese."

This kind of callousness is one reason we urge victims to report to law enforcement officials, not church officials. It’s heart-breaking to think about how hard this was on the victim.

We challenge these board members, chosen by Nienstedt, who hide behind anonymity, to have the decency to step up and explain their hurtful actions.

And we beg anyone else who may be suffering - because of crimes of Fr. Keating or betrayal by church officials – to reach out for help.

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Bob Schwiderski (952 471 3422[email protected])

Showing 2 comments

  • Mike Skiendzielewski
    commented 2013-10-15 21:57:16 -0500
    “Canon law is very eloquent on what a bishop is supposed to do, but there is no list of Thou Shalt Nots,” says Father Reginald Whitt (2002). “These (sex abusers) are criminals, but they are our criminals and we can’t lose them. Indeed, the bishops have a duty to try to save them,” says the Rev. Reginald Whitt, professor of canon law at University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. (2002)

    “……BISHOPS HAVE A DUTY TO TRY TO SAVE THEM (sex abuser priests)…..” Well, Fr. Whitt, where is it written (no, not in text or canon law…….it is written in one’s heart and soul) that the bishops have a duty to try to save the CHILDREN ABUSED and INNOCENT CHILDREN from the risk of abuse?

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Philadelphia, PA
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