MN- SNAP to prosecutors: "Double down on pedophile priests"
For immediate release: Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014
Ramsey County's prosecutor doubts he can bring criminal charges against ten Twin Cities predator priests. We believe he should try harder, do more aggressive outreach and keep scouring the statutes vigorously.
Remember: Al Capone was nailed on income tax evasion. And remember: Often, where there's a will, there's a way. And also remember: to the overwhelming majority of victims, even a failed prosecution is better than none at all, because it may deter future crimes.
We believe that prosecutors and police chiefs in all the 12 counties covered by the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese should ask every pastor for:
–permission to speak at masses about this scandal and use any such opportunity to beg victims witnesses and whistleblowers to step forward, and
–a page of their parish bulletin to issue the same plea in writing.
Then they should also individually ask every Catholic employee in their jurisdictions (especially clerics), in writing and over the phone, to voluntarily share what they know or suspect about clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
Each church staffer – lay or ordained – should be given a firm deadline. And the police and prosecutors should then publicize, by name, those who refuse to cooperate.
They should also contact every religious order cleric who works or worked in the archdiocese seeking information about these predators. (Religious order priests, brothers and nuns may well feel less constrained about helping law enforcement because they don't report directly to Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt.)
And we believe that Twin Cities Catholics should sit on their checkbooks, or donate to non-Catholic organizations; until they see a long series of steps taken by their purported “spiritual leaders” to help police and prosecutors catch child molesting clerics and their corrupt supervisors.
Sounds controversial perhaps. Sounds like a lot of work certainly. But what's the alternative?
To give up? To let child molesters keep assaulting kids? To let complicit Catholic officials get off scot-free so they'll continue their deceit and recklessness for decades to come?
Think about those who commit and conceal heinous crimes against kids. Unless Twin Cities law enforcement steps it up, all ten of these accused priests walk free. So criminals will learn that rigid adherence to a strategy of long term deception and recklessness and stonewalling will pay off in the Twin Cities. And victims and their families will learn that their pain means nothing and that their elected and appointed civic leaders have failed them. And more kids will be severely hurt.
We've seen child molesting clerics prosecuted for child porn, indecent exposure, child endangerment, destroying evidence, intimidating victims, obstructing justice, taking kids across state lines, providing alcohol to minors, and a range of other charges. We've seen cruise ships in international waters stopped so that a predator priest could be arrested. We've seen a predator bishop caught with child porn at an airport. We've seen “sting” operations in which sex offender clergy have confessed on tape to their crimes.
All of this happens when prosecutors show real courage and creativity, using every means possible to seek out and support victims, witnesses and whistleblowers and to pressure offenders and their complicit colleagues.
So Mr. Choi and these 11 other prosecutors: Work harder and smarter. Dig deeper. Be creative. And make sure kids are safer, crimes are prevented, cover ups are deterred, and justice is done.
We are grateful Mr. Choi has succeeded in getting more funding for his investigation. We hope other prosecutors follow his lead. Remember: the church hierarchy is a very resilient and powerful institution with massive resources.
And finally, no matter what law enforcement officials do or don't do, survivors must keep speaking up. That's our moral and civic duty. That's all we can do. And that's what has produced change time and time again.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have 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)