SNAP News

Get the latest updates from SNAP Network.

Four Bay Area Priests Still on the Job Despite New Sex Abuse Allegations

A months-long NBC Bay Area investigation into a wave of new clergy abuse lawsuits has uncovered a series of allegations against dozens of Northern California priests and church employees accused for the first time of sexually abusing children. Some of them continue to work here. By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott, Mark Villareal and Michael Horn • Published June 23, 2022 • Updated on June 23, 2022 at 6:19 p (Full story can been seen here)  Two Bay Area Catholic dioceses are allowing priests they employ to remain in ministry despite lawsuits now accusing the men of sexually abusing children earlier in their careers, NBC Bay Area has confirmed.   The findings come amid an ongoing NBC Bay Area investigation into a flood of new child sex abuse claims hitting Catholic institutions across the state. The civil lawsuits are the result of a 2019 California law that opened a three-year “lookback” window allowing new child sex abuse lawsuits based on claims typically barred by the statute of limitations. Click here to watch Part 1 of NBC Bay Area's investigation. Among the hundreds of new Northern California legal filings are startling accusations against four Bay Area priests who still work in the region. The dioceses they serve told NBC Bay Area internal reviews did not substantiate the claims against the men, and it would be unjust to keep them out of ministry. Dan McNevin, a local leader for the victim advocacy group SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), said he's skeptical of such internal diocesan reviews. “The bishops have an obligation to sideline these people,” McNevin said. “Not only for the victim, who is courageous, but because the bishop is on notice that this priest might be dangerous.” Three of the accused priests – Fr. David Ghiorso, Msgr. Michael Harriman, and Fr. Michael Mahoney – work under the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Either directly or through their attorneys, all three priests refuted the allegations against them. The other priest – Rev. James Pulskamp – is the pastor of Santa Rosa’s Star of the Valley Catholic Church. Pulskamp did not respond to NBC Bay Area’s request for comment, but Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa said in a statement he finds it difficult to give the allegation any credence given the priest’s stellar reputation over the past 50 years. With one exception, the allegations against the priests are linked to two centers founded as homes for vulnerable children who were removed from troubled households: St. Vincent’s School for Boys in San Rafael and the Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma. St. Vincent's School for Boys in San Rafael, where multiple new lawsuits allege children were abused there in past decades. The claims relate to events occurring across nearly two decades, from the mid-1970s through the early 1990s. If true, the decades-old accusations expand what we know about Northern California’s clergy abuse scandal and suggest that internal lists of “credibly accused” priests released by most Bay Area dioceses in recent years are still incomplete. The plaintiffs making the accusations have so-far declined to be interviewed, but the lawsuits, and in some cases, their attorneys, detail the allegations. Rev. James Pulskamp & Hanna Boys Center The oldest accusation targets Rev. Pulskamp during his time as a priest at the Hanna Boys Center. The school and residential treatment center for vulnerable children has been a hotspot for child sexual abuse accusations in recent years. Pulskamp is accused in a new lawsuit of molesting a child there in the 1970s. “Because [the children there] are more vulnerable, they become prey for priests and people who work there,” said Mary Alexander, a Bay Area attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of an unnamed plaintiff. “So, it is something that we see all the time.” While Pulskamp now serves as the pastor of his Santa Rosa church, he’s listed as a Regent Emeritus on the Hanna Boys Center’s website. Bishop Vasa said Pulskamp remains in ministry after an internal review board recommended no action be taken against the priest. However, the Bishop said the diocese will continue to investigate any new details that emerge. Alexander said Pulskamp and any other priests facing new abuse accusations shouldn’t be working until more information comes out through the legal process. “I think that any priest who is still active and is accused, that he should be put on administrative leave, that there should be no access to children,” Alexander said.

SNAP Media Events

Clergy Abuse Survivors Gather as Powerful New Documentary on Abuse within the Catholic Church Premieres

Media Advisory

(For Immediate Release June 16, 2022) 

Clergy Abuse Survivors Gather as Powerful New Documentary on Abuse within the Catholic Church Premieres

THE NEW RATLINE Exposes Ongoing Abuse and Cover-up in the United States and Abroad

“Immigrant women and children are being abused and silenced by the Catholic Church,” says SNAP

 

WHAT: Holding signs, childhood photos, and posters at a sidewalk press conference, survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their advocates will:

  • Share information regarding the case of Fr. Jesus Suarez and other cases of clergy abuse and cover-up that are contemporary with the cases explored in THE NEW RATLINE,
  • Draw attention to today’s premiere, and
  • Recognize the brave survivors and advocates who helped make this important documentary possible.

WHO: Several members of survivor support and advocacy group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including a Houston-area man who helped with the research for the film and other local California survivors of clergy abuse.

WHEN: Survivors and advocates will gather at 2 PM and the Press Conference will begin at 3 PM on Friday, June 17

WHERE: Outside the TCL Chinese Theater, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood CA 90028

WHY: A powerful new documentary on clergy abuse and cover-up called THE NEW RATLINE is premiering at the Dances with Films festival, and survivors of clergy abuse and advocates are gathering to draw attention to the film, its premiere, and most importantly, the stories that the film details.

From Dogtooth productions, THE NEW RATLINE is “a relentless search into one of our generation’s greatest cover-ups” and tells the story of Fr. Jesus Suarez, a priest from Colombia who is accused of sexually abusing young girls in his home country before being brought to the US – apparently with the full knowledge of local Church leadership – where his crimes were brought to light. After Fr. Suarez fled, investigative journalist John Carlos Frey went to find him and hopefully bring his victims some sense of justice. THE NEW RATLINE is the story of those efforts.

“We are honored to have been able to work with John on this important film that tells a modern story of a problem that so many people think ended long ago,” said Eduardo Lopez de Casas, SNAP Board Member. “If we want to truly put a stop to this problem, we need more people to take the time to learn that it is still happening and that they can be a part of the solution.”

CONTACT: Eduardo Lopez de Casas, SNAP Houston ([email protected], 361-571-7106), John Carlos Frey ([email protected]), Dorothy Small, SNAP Sacramento Area Leader, ([email protected], 530-908-3676), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have upwards of 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org


Three-four adults who were sexually abused as kids and belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

5th accuser names priest as predator in the 2000s

He's just filed a new civil abuse & cover-up lawsuit

Cleric IS ON THE JOB RIGHT NOW & never been suspended

SNAP: "Nowhere in the US have we seen such recklessness"

Victims beg archbishop “for kids' safety, oust the priest now”

Churchgoers should "stop donating & insist on explanations"

WHAT
Wearing masks and socially distancing while holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will
---announce that fifth accuser has stepped forward to naming a currently-serving local pastor as a child molester,
---provide copies of a new child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit against the priest who is still a pastor now,
---beg St. Louis’ archbishop to immediately suspend the cleric, &
---beg Catholics to stop donating "until the archdiocese explains why they're violating church policy by never even suspending the cleric."

WHEN
Thursday, Feb. 10 at 1:15 p.m.

WHERE
On the sidewalk outside the “new” cathedral, 4431 Lindell Blvd, (corner of Newstead) in the Central West End in St. Louis

WHO
Three-four adults who were sexually abused as kids and belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)

SNAP and Child USAdvocacy will provide testimony to Nebraska State Legislature Judiciary Committee

 

(For Immediate Release January 20, 2022) 

Critical legislation that will better protect Nebraskan children and provide support for victims of sexual abuse will be heard during a meeting of the Nebraska State Judiciary Committee on Friday, January 21, 2022.

Sponsored by Sen. Rich Pahls, LB 833 is a bill that will repeal the statute of limitations for third parties in cases of sexual assault of a child.  To understand why this legislation is so important, look no further than this recent report by Nebraska Attorney General Douglas Peterson, which detailed the stories of 258 victims of Child Sexual Assault committed by church officials alone. The saddest fact is that none of these cases could be prosecuted due to statute of limitations concerns. Even though the average age at which a survivor of child sexual assault comes forward is 52 years old, the Nebraska statute of limitations currently bars civil cases from being brought after a victim is 33 years old.

Fortunately, over the past three years, more than thirty states have reformed their statutes of limitation in cases of child sex crimes to be better in line with medical facts like delayed disclosure. Now, Nebraskans will have an opportunity of their own to start these important changes.

Kathryn Robb, Esq. of Child USAdvocacy, Debbie Dappen, local SNAP Leader and Shaun Dougherty, Board President from SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) will be available to the media and can explain the importance of child sexual assault legislation in Nebraska along with and the broader national trend of repealing statutes of limitation on child sexual assault. Each individual can be available in the morning preceding the hearing. 

CONTACT:

Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President (814-341-8386), [email protected], Debbie Dappen, SNAP Leader, [email protected], Kathryn Robb, Esq. (www.childusadvocacy.org), (781-856-7207),  Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected] Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [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 SNAPnetwork.org)


Sidewalk news conference abuse survivors and advocates at Diocesan Chancery in Sacramento

New Vatican law on the abuse of adults by clergy goes into effect December 8th

Sacramento Diocese already includes clerics who abused those aged 18-25 on its abuser list

Adult survivor who was older than 25 now asks for her perpetrator to be added

SNAP will also release its own more complete Sacramento list

The victims’ group believes that adult victims in California need a "Window to Justice"

WHAT: At a sidewalk news conference abuse survivors and advocates who are part of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, will urge the Diocese of Sacramento to add clerics who abused men or women over the age of 25 to its list of perpetrators. The group will also provide its own list for Sacramento and ask that those additional names be included as well. Finally, SNAP will call attention to the need for a California civil window for adult survivors such as the one now available for child victims in the state.

WHEN: December 8, 2021, at 11 AM

WHERE: Outside the Diocesan chancery office, 2110 Broadway (near 21st Street), in Sacramento

WHO: 4-5 abuse survivors and advocates, including the Sacramento area SNAP Leader, who wants to see the name of the priest who assaulted her when she was an adult added to the Diocesan list of accused clerics.

WHY: Back in June Pope Francis changed Catholic Church law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by clergy. The new provisions become effective today, December 8th. We believe that dioceses across the United States, Sacramento included, should now begin adding these clerics to their lists of abusers.

We certainly know that those priests who abuse adults sometimes abuse children as well. Out here in California, Fr. Jose Superiaso sexually abused a woman who was in her 20s and a youth coordinator for the Church, and also molested her 12-year-old sister. In a case out of the Archdiocese of Washington, Fr. Urbano Vasquez was convicted last week of sexually assaulting an adult female parishioner while serving time in prison for assaulting two little girls. The infamous case of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is another example. The Church apparently ignored McCarrick’s abuse of adults under his authority and took no action against the prelate until accusations of child sexual abuse became public in 2018.  


At an outdoor protest, survivors of child sexual abuse, including a man who was sexually abused by Catholic priest Msgr. Eugene Fanelli

What: At an outdoor protest, survivors of child sexual abuse, including a man who was sexually abused by Catholic priest Msgr. Eugene Fanelli, will:

  • Signs and protestors demanding West New York City officials immediately remove a city-owned street sign that honors alleged child predator Msgr. Eugene Fanelli.
  • Implore Cardinal Tobin and Archdiocese of Newark officials to remove the street sign and add Fanelli’s name to the Archdiocese’s List of Credibly Accused Clergy.
  • Urge all survivors of child sexual abuse in New Jersey to take action under the New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill before November 30, 2021.

A survivor who was abused by Fanelli will also speak publicly and disclose:


New Clergy Sex Abuse and Cover up Lawsuit Filed in Archdiocese of Houston

New Clergy Sex Abuse and Cover up Lawsuit Filed in Archdiocese of Houston

“Once again, the church has put its reputation above the protection of children”

SNAP Calls for Immediate Action by Church Officials


Abusers’ names to be written on sidewalk

Abusers’ names to be written on sidewalk

All are predator priests ‘under the radar’ here

One was convicted for trying to hire a hit man

But he, nor the others, are on diocese 'perp list

Each is ‘credibly accused’ say bishops elsewhere

SNAP also reveals settlement vs. another cleric

He’s “the most dangerous KC clergy offender


SNAP leaders call on the Archdiocese of San Antonio to update the abusive clergy list and to include Marianists priests who served San Antonio

WHAT: Holding signs at a news conference, survivors of clergy abuse and their supporters will identify the accused Marianist clergy members who have worked in this community, provide contact information for support for any new survivors coming forward, urging them to report any abuse to law enforcement first. SNAP calls out the archdiocese and St. Mary’s to be proactive in finding survivors who may need support.

WHEN:  Wednesday, June 23, 2021. 12pm

WHERE: Outside the San Antonio Archdiocese headquarters, 2718 Woodlawn Ave, on the public sidewalk in front of the Archdiocese sign.


More Posts

Media Statements

Criminal charges against former Michigan Catholic priest are reinstated; SNAP welcomes this decision

(For Immediate Release June 27, 2022) 

Late last week, a Michigan appeals court ruled that criminal charges against a defrocked Catholic priest, Timothy Michael Crowley, should be reinstated. We are thrilled by the court's decision, as it means that this dangerous man may ultimately face jail time for the crimes he is accused of committing. We hope that this decision will bring comfort to the brave survivor who has been waiting years for his day in court.

Earlier, in October of 2019, a judge had ruled that the reported assaults by the former priest that occurred in Michigan after the victim was 16 were "consensual" and dismissed those charges. Thankfully, the Michigan Attorney General's office decided to challenge this decision on appeal.

Crowley is on the list of "credibly accused" priests for both the Diocese of Lansing and the Archdiocese of Anchorage. The survivor in this case even received a settlement from the Diocese in 1993.

After the Boston Globe's SPOTLIGHT team exposed the fact that abusive Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Boston were moved to unsuspecting parishes and allowed to continue abusing, the US bishops developed the Dallas Charter in 2002. Crowley was finally removed from ministry that same year because of the Charter.

Crowley was laicized in 2015. He was arrested in Arizona in 2019 and returned to Michigan to face criminal charges. The credit for this prosecution goes to the investigation into clergy sex crimes that were instituted in Michigan after the devastating 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.

SNAP's Communications Manager Mike McDonnell noted, "We see criminal cases against Catholic clergy filed because of secular investigations, and we applaud Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for her ongoing work."

AG Nessel has been a steadfast warrior on the side of survivors and children. Her ongoing probe of Catholic sexual abuse in Michigan has been one of the most effective investigations in the country. We hope her track record will inspire anyone who suffered child sexual abuse in the Church to come forward and make a written report or call the AG’s confidential hotline at (844) 324-3374.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])

(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 SNAPnetwork.org)


SNAP applauds high court’s decision to reject nine California Catholic Bishop’s petition

(For Immediate Release June 22, 2022) 

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an 11th-hour plea by nine Catholic bishops and archbishops, including Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa, seeking to overturn a California law allowing people to sue over childhood sex abuse regardless of how long ago it occurred.

In this case, nine bishops from dioceses in California argued that reopening a three-year window period that expands the statute of limitations on such cases unconstitutionally exposes them to liability in violation of due process protections. We are very pleased that the Court to tossed out this meritless challenge and believe that it will help to further unveil the secrets held by both catholic dioceses and other religious organizations.

It is our firm belief that many, many more survivors who have been abused have yet to realize the damage done to them and remain silent in their pain. We know that window legislation exposes both predators and the institutions that covered up these horrific crimes. Among the current crop of victims, we are likely to see more from the 1980s to the 2000s. This new demographic of victims will likely name some known perpetrators, but also others that are yet unknown and may pose a danger to today's boys and girls.

We hope this news will encourage other survivors to come forward, seek legal counsel, make a report to police and prosecutors, and get information into the public sphere that can help protect children today and hold enablers and abusers accountable. The window legislation expires on December 31, 2022, so there is still time for victims to be heard and journey forward with healing and recovery.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(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 SNAPnetwork.org)

 

 


SNAP responds to Pope Francis's remarks about the importance of vocation discernment

 

(For Immediate Release June 17, 2022) 

 

Pope Francis spoke on Friday about the importance of scrutinizing candidates for the priesthood to ensure that the men who reach ordination are well-formed and mature. We hope that his concern extends to making sure that they teach these candidates to recognize and report grooming and abusive behavior, as well.

In a meeting with seminary formators from the Milan archdiocese on June 17, the Pope said that the process of accompanying those discerning vocations to the priesthood requires sensitivity and expert skill. “When discerning whether or not a person can embark on a vocational journey, it is necessary to scrutinize and evaluate him in an integral way: to consider his way of experiencing affections, relationships, spaces, roles, responsibilities, as well as his frailties, fears, and imbalances,” Pope Francis said.

We share Pope Francis’ concern over the priesthood. We absolutely agree with the Pope that ‘it is necessary to scrutinize and evaluate’ candidates for the priesthood, but we also know that there is no valid diagnostic tool known to man that can help screen out, potential child abusers. It is also no secret that simple psychological evaluations can be passed with flying colors by those who already have a reservation to commit sexual crimes against children or adults. Knowing these facts, our chief concern for seminarians in 2022 is that they are taught that abuse is not a thing of the past but an ongoing problem, and one that they can help prevent by learning to recognize and report signs of grooming or abusive behavior

For example, the late Fr. Robert McWilliams, who was convicted in November 2021 for sexually exploiting boys, had appeared to be outgoing and even gregarious at times. The Diocese of Cleveland came under heavy scrutiny regarding McWilliams who was made pastor without a long work history. McWilliams took his own life in February 2022. Clearly, McWilliams was able to sail through the evaluation process and blended well in the seminary and parish life. The truth is this, Robert McWilliams didn’t start exploiting boys upon his ordination, but becoming a priest only gave him more authority and gravitas that he could use to hurt kids. This example underscores our concern.

We can see that the Pope is deliberately framing the scandal as something that's largely in the past – by focusing on already hurt victims, not on still-vulnerable children when he said, ‘those who have experienced sin and failure, priests who are experts in humanity … men who know how to listen to the cry of those who suffer.’ This is terrific public relations and a great rally call for seminarians, but it's not grounded in reality. No matter how hard Pope Francis or any church employee may try to depict this scandal as “in the past,” it's very much a part of the church right now and in the future.

Now, we have more clarity about Pope Francis’s concern for more priests and maybe more concern about his intentions regarding abuse. He's willing to discuss the change in several parts of the church. But it’s clear to us that when it comes to pedophile priests and complicit bishops, Pope Francis’ concerns do not go far enough.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(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 SNAPnetwork.org)


SNAP wants more details in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe bankruptcy plan

(For Immediate Release June 15, 2022) 

 An official settlement plan in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s bankruptcy remains to be completed, but there are no serious complications, attorneys said Tuesday. Archdiocese attorney Thomas Walker told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Thuma he had hoped to have the Chapter 11 reorganization plan drawn up Wednesday for the bankruptcy case prompted by clergy sexual abuse of at least 375 people. Some details, however, still must be worked out, he said.

We would like clarification as to why diocesan attorneys are keeping survivors waiting, while in the same breath saying, ‘no complications?’ If the plan is as straightforward as they say, why has this taken years? It is statements like this from church representatives or church officials themselves that continually cast doubt on their sincerity in addressing the years of pain and hardship for survivors.

If the Diocese of Santa Fe attorneys co-signs a commitment to help survivors and create safer environments within the church, they must be transparent with what is going on with the settlement plan. They should detail what needs to be worked out. Meanwhile, church officials should immediately update their list of abusers to include the new names identified throughout the bankruptcy process and should then use every resource at their disposal to ensure parishioners and parents at each location where an abuser worked have been notified. Similarly, they should be turning over all information regarding sex crimes, regardless of the status of the abuser, to local law enforcement.

We know that no institution can police itself and so we hope that police and prosecutors in New Mexico are looking long and hard to find creative pathways toward justice for survivors and to prevent more cases of abuse in the future. A critical step in preventing abuse is ensuring that those who covered up and enabled abuse are prosecuted.

 CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected] 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) 

(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 SNAPnetwork.org)


SNAP renews a call for secular investigations as SBC elects Bart Barber a new President

(For Immediate Release June 15, 2022) 

Newly elected Southern Baptist Convention President, Bart Barber said the scathing 288-page investigative report from Guidepost Solutions with disturbing details about how the church mishandled sex abuse claims and mistreated victims is only the beginning of a long and arduous journey. “The work’s not done,” he added. “We’ve gotten the report, but I think everybody in the survivor community that I’ve heard from has said reports are one thing, but we’ll see if this family of churches has the courage and resolve to take action.”

Following his election, the SBC has pushed through two, very minimal reforms, including the implementation of a new reform implementation task force and the formal creation of a database of abusers. Yet if newly-elected President Barber wants congratulations, he will simply have to wait because the SBC has much, much more to do.

The reforms initiated by the SBC are, as they themselves acknowledged, the bare minimum. For years, SBC leadership has dragged its feet on taking any steps to support survivors and protect children. For example, We know that the idea of a database of abusers was suggested to convention leadership as early as 2007 and that this effort to support public safety was refused by church leadership. What other information has been redacted or hidden by these leaders? After many decades of congregations not knowing, and officials not acknowledging, we agree that more must be done.

There is no doubt that these two basic steps have only been taken because of survivors. True accountability will not come from a new SBC President because no institution can police itself. Regardless of what steps are taken internally by the SBC, what must happen for true prevention, healing, and justice is the involvement of outside, secular officials.

We renew our call on every single attorney general in the U.S. to work within the strictures of their state and to launch investigations into SBC abuse within their borders. Whether an AG is empowered to launch an investigation on their own or they need a local case from a District Attorney to proceed, we hope that these elected officials will use their statutory power and some creativity to find out what really happened within the SBC.

New leadership can let fresh air in through a window or it can remain closed to the outside, perpetuating the stagnant air. We hope the SBC cleans up the wreckage of the past with true accountability.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578), Dave Brown, SNAP Leader Tennessee (901-569-4500) Melanie Sakoda ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) 

(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 SNAPnetwork.org.)

 


SNAP disputes the numbers in Diocese of Muenster study that found ‘massive leadership failure’

(For Immediate Release June 13, 2022) 

 

A study commissioned by the Diocese of Muenster in Germany has reported “massive leadership failure” by diocesan bishops between 1947 and 2008. The study found at least 610 victims of abuse and said that the real figure is likely to be eight to ten times higher. 196 allegedly abusive clerics account for about 4% of all priests in the diocese between 1945 and 2020. About 5% of those were “serial” abusers, responsible for more than 10 acts each, the authors found.

While we agree that the number of victims is likely ten times higher than reported, we certainly are not convinced that there were only 196 named clergy alleged to have abused. We are confident that the same potential increase applied to the number of victims holds true for the number of alleged abusers. This is a staggering thought and these numbers show the clear need for immediate reform within the church in Germany.

Similarly, according to a report released in the UK, there were 3000 instances of child sexual abuse reported to the Catholic Church in that country between 1970-2015. Based on SNAP’s internal analysis, we believe that there are likely as many as 5,000 victims in the Diocese of Muenster alone and we hope that this initial news will remind those survivors that they are not alone and that there are people who will believe them and support them.

According to the diocesan statistics, as of 18 July 2013, there were 1,129 priests, 296 permanent deacons, and 2,540 religious in the diocese. There are 1.9 million Catholics, not all practicing, spread among 300 parishes in the Diocese of Muenster. It is a rather logical conclusion to anyone who reads the report or summary that the number of victims and abusers alike is astonishingly low. And yet, the figures often heard after investigative reports into sexual abuse by institutions, clergy, and religious are revealed, the number of alleged abusers always trends towards 10%.

We hope that this report will reveal in greater detail who knew what and when so that those who were involved in perpetrating or enabling abuse can be identified and removed from power. The best way to protect today's youth is to ensure that those Church officials who sold children’s futures for short-lived silence will be stripped of their positions. The innocent and the vulnerable deserve Catholic leaders who will protect them from those who would harm them.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(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 SNAPnetwork.org)


USCCB June Retreat marks Twentieth Anniversary of the Dallas Charter; SNAP doesn’t find much to applaud.

(For Immediate Release June 13, 2022) 

In a statement released on June 9, 2022, the current president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, issued a statement saying, "Since the passage of the Charter, the Catholic Church in the United States has worked hard to fulfill our pledge to support the healing of those hurt by sexual abuse, along with their families. We have also strived to be faithful to our promise to protect children and young people. Today, millions of children and adults have been trained to spot the signs of abusive behavior, allegations of sexual abuse are reported to local law enforcement, background checks are the norm, review boards comprised of lay experts meet to assess allegations, and victim assistance coordinators are in place to assist survivors in finding help."

Regardless of the rosy assessment of Archbishop Gomez, we find the Church to be deficient in supporting the healing of those hurt by sexual abuse, responding promptly and effectively to allegations, cooperating with civil authorities, and holding offenders accountable.

Despite the 2002 pledge "to support the healing of those hurt by sexual abuse, along with their families," victims continue to struggle to find the help that they need to move forward. Absent a legally binding settlement or judgment, assistance is at the mercy of those in charge, not the needs of the survivor. A recent tragic example is the case of Nate Lindstrom. For ten years beginning in 2009 the Norbertine religious order paid Nate $3500 a month, plus help with his therapy and medication. Nate was suffering the long-term effects of abuse at the hands of three order priests. This secret arrangement was not in response to a lawsuit but as a result of Nate's parents approaching the Abbot for help for their son's worsening mental health. Yet when a new Abbot took charge of the Norbertines, the order abruptly stopped these desperately needed payments, saying  there was “no basis” for the sex abuse accusations against two of the three priests, not even addressing the accusations against the third. Nate took his own life shortly after this life-line was withdrawn, leaving behind a widow and three young children.


An audit report of Catholic Dioceses in Quebec find only 87 abusers; SNAP calls foul

(For Immediate Release June 10, 2022) 

An audit report of Catholic Dioceses in Quebec find only 87 abusers; SNAP calls foul

An "independent" audit of more than 80 years of files involving nine Quebec Catholic dioceses found only 87 abusers among Church personnel, according to a summary of findings released Wednesday. The perpetrators included people who worked for a diocese or parish, but not those who worked in schools. It also did not include religious order employees.

To us, this report is spin-selling, deceitful, and demonstrates the unwillingness of Catholic officials in Quebec to fully disclose the true number of abusers within these dioceses. Given the Church’s long history of using sanitizing language to minimize awful crimes, we are more than confident that the actual number of perpetrators is far greater than the 87 acknowledged, particularly since schools and religious orders were not included.

Retired Superior Court justice André Denis was given a mandate to root out persons accused of abuse who were still working for the Church, and to show the dioceses how many employees, historically, had faced "credible" accusations. He said less than five of the 87 were still working for the Church by the time he finished his review.

“They’re counted on the fingers on one hand, but those who had allegations, they were removed from their positions and submitted to disciplinary committees of the respective dioceses,” Denis added in an interview Wednesday.

The audit involved the dioceses of two church jurisdictions — Montreal and Gatineau — which include several major cities, such as Joliette, Longueuil, St-Jérôme, and Valleyfield. According to the report, 10,000 documents were reviewed, including the files of bishops, priests, deacons, pastoral associates, and diocesan staff. We remain unclear as to why schools were excluded since they are a primary hunting ground for those who abuse children, but to us it seems abundantly clear that eliminating educational institutions and religious orders artificially minimized the extent of the problem.

If Catholic officials in Quebec are confident that their rate of abuse among laypersons and clergy is really less than two percent, they should be willing to voluntarily turn over all records to the government and request a Pennsylvania grand jury-style investigation and report, with no exceptions for schools or religious orders. Law enforcement officials could then invite testimony from survivors, who may have been reluctant to approach the institution where they were hurt, and permit truly independent legal professionals, not someone hired and paid for by the Church, to review all these records. We believe that will get to the truth and provide a clearer sense of the full scale of abuse in Quebec.

It is impossible for us to reconcile the facts documented here in the United States and around the world with the findings of the Quebec report.  Independent government investigations have consistently found the rate of abuse in Catholic institutions to be approaching 10 percent, not less than 2 percent. We find it highly unlikely that Quebec is the lone exception to this trend.

Coquitlam British Columbia 

Contact: Leona Huggins
Phone: 604-240-3741
Email: [email protected]

Windsor Ontario 

Contact: Brenda Brunelle
Email: [email protected]

SNAP Communication Manger

Contact: Mike McDonnell

Email: [email protected] 

Phone: 267-261-0578

(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 SNAPnetwork.org.)

 


Priests-in-Training Fired After Reporting Grooming and Inappropriate Conduct by their Superior, SNAP Calls for Action from Archbishop Gomez

For immediate release: June 10, 2022

According to a report, six novices were dismissed from their order last summer after reporting that they had been groped, groomed, and manipulated by their superior. The fact that officials from the Catholic Church continue to punish those who report wrongdoing demonstrates that even in 2022, twenty years after the adoption of the Dallas Charter, they still do not understand how to respond in cases of sexual abuse.

An internal investigation by Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception cleared the accused master, Fr. Thomas Dome, of wrongdoing, but failed to involve any of the accusers as part of their fact-finding. We can only question what value any sort of “investigation” can have when investigators do not even bother to interview the victims themselves. Once again, Church officials demonstrate that they are incapable of investigating themselves. We hope that the California Attorney General will investigate this order himself and determine if any crimes were committed.

To us, the actions described in the report are clear-cut examples of grooming, and we believe the accusations of these six novices and applaud them for coming forward. We also believe that a more open, trauma-informed church would also have been able to recognize these signs as grooming as well. However, rather than actually learn about the realities of institutional power, coercive control, and sexual abuse, Church officials instead appear to have washed their hands of the sexual abuse scandal and consider it a thing of the past. Clearly, as this story demonstrates, Catholic children, seminarians, and parishioners remain at risk.


Pope Francis taps San Diego Auxiliary Bishop Dolan to lead the Diocese of Phoenix; SNAP calls for action

(For Immediate Release June 10, 2022) 

Today, Pope Francis named Bishop John P. Dolan, Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego to lead the Diocese of Phoenix Arizona. Dolan succeeds the retiring Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted who has led the diocese since 2003. Given the history of church leadership in Phoenix, there is much work ahead for Bishop-Elect Dolan.

For example, In 2008, after the diocese had spent several million dollars to settle about 20 lawsuits, Bishop Olmsted began an initiative to shield diocesan assets from further sex abuse claims by incorporating local parishes individually. Through his actions, Bishop Olmsted demonstrated that he cared more about the money his diocese brings in rather than the children and families his diocese serves. Bishop-Elect Dolan must work to invert this structure and put children, families, and survivors first.

Since his appointment in 2017, Bishop Dolan, who was ordained a priest for San Diego in 1989, has worked as vicar general, vicar for clergy, and moderator of the curia. These are all internal administrative positions which makes it highly likely that Bishop Dolan had more knowledge than most about clergy sex crimes within his diocese. Through this high-ranking position within the diocese, surely he knew more than most and likely followed the nationwide “playbook” that Pennsylvania A.G. Josh Shapiro detailed in his 2018 Grand Jury Report.


More Posts

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).

Learn More

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant