NJ- SNAP: "Where predator now?" He was close to ex-NJ governor
For immediate release: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
“Where's predator priest now?” victims ask
A dozen years later, Vatican finally defrocks him
But bishop told only a small group of parishioners
SNAP: “Public needs to know where offender is now”
Ex-spiritual advisor to former governor McGreevey is defrocked
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is writing Metuchen’s Catholic bishop urging him to reveal the whereabouts of a recently-defrocked abusive priest and explain why he only told some parishioners – and not the broader public – that the priest has been defrocked.
Fr. Michael Cashman was once the spiritual advisor to then-Governor James McGreevey. But in 2002, Cashman was accused of having molested a mother and her two teenage children – a daughter and son – over a period of several years. The church paid $145,000 to the victims along with another woman, who accused him of improper conduct.
Vatican officials defrocked Cashman earlier this year, but instead of holding a news conference or sending out a news release, Metuchen Bishop Paul Bootkoski (732 562 1990) only notified one parish and readers of a diocesan publication.
He told some priests it was up to them to make announcements in their churches about Cashman's defrocking.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are asking Bootkoski to “tell the public where this dangerous predator is now and why you only notified a relatively small group of parishioners that he was formally and completely ousted from the priesthood.”
“If the bishop really wanted to protect kids, he would have shouted from the rooftops 'It's official. Cashman's credibly accused. Keep your kids away from him,'” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “Instead, he basically protected a predator and the reputation of top Metuchen Catholic officials.”
“Most victims of clergy sex abuse don't attend the church where they were hurt,” Clohessy stressed, “and many ousted child molesting clerics try to get secular jobs.”
“That's why public notice, not just parishioner notice, is key,” he said.
“It feels to us that Bootkoski had a chance to do this right or do it half right or one third right,” Clohessy said. “He chose to do it one third right.”
“Less than 40% of New Jersey is Catholic,” said Mark Crawford of Avenal, SNAP's New Jersey director. “Bishop Bootkoski is smart. He knows one parish bulletin and one diocesan newspaper announcement reaches only a small fraction of families who should be warned about Cashman.”
Fr. Cashman baptized one of ex-Gov James McGreevey’s two children and offered the benediction at his inaugural. But in 2002 he was accused of having molested a mother and her two teenage children, a daughter and son, over a period of several years. The church paid $145,000 to the victims along with another woman, who accused him of improper conduct. A church court in 2009 found him guilty of abusing a child in the 1980s and he was removed from the ministry.
In July, Bootkoski wrote to his flock at St. James parish telling them that Cashman has been “laicized” by the Vatican. Cashman worked at churches in Old Bridge, West Trenton, Spotswood, North Brunswick and (most recently) Woodbridge (and likely at other locations too, SNAP believes).
Bootkoski's letter was obtained and posted on line last week by BishopAccountability.org, an online archive about the Catholic church's on-going clergy child sex abuse and cover up crisis.
“Like hundreds of other Catholic officials, Bootkoski has repeatedly pledged he'd be 'open and transparent' in dealing with pedophile priests,” said Crawford. “The twelve year old US national bishops policy (called “the Dallas charter”) mandates that he be open. But Bootkoski's told a relatively small group about Cashman's wrongdoing. That's hardly real 'transparency.'”
“Bootkoski seems to want to do the absolute bare minimum, rather than do what best protects the greatest number of children,” Clohessy said.
Crawford said Bootkoski “should do what 30 US bishops have done: post the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics on his diocesan website. He should explain and apologize for his reckless secrecy regarding Cashman. He should make sure that verbal and written announcements about Cashman are made in every church this weekend. He should disclose Cashman's last known whereabouts. And he should personally visit each parish where Cashman worked, emphatically begging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to protect kids and call police with any knowledge or suspicions they may have about Cashman's crimes.
Anything less is damage control, public relations, and a violation of the spirit of the church's abuse policy, Crawford maintains.
He also noted that years ago, SNAP had praised Bootkoski for his actions in some abuse cases.
“Now is not the time for him – or any Catholic official – to go backwards about kids' safety,” he emphasized.
According to BishopAccountability.org, Cashman is a native of Ireland. He was put on leave in 2002 after an accusation that he abused a former parishioner, her son and daughter in 1978 at parish in Old Bridge. Other accusations were also made. A case against him was included in a Jan. 2003 settlement involving abuse by five priests. He denied all allegations.
A copy of SNAP's letter to Bootkoski, sent today by fax and email, is below.
(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)
September 24, 2014
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Dear Bishop Bootkoski:
We are members of a support group called SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. We are begging you to do this as well, by taking decisive action to safeguard kids, instead of just posturing and promising the way most bishops do.
The whereabouts of Fr. Michael Cashman, who as you know was recently defrocked, are not publicly known. We want you to tell the public where this dangerous predator is now and why only a small group of parishioners were notified that he was formally and completely ousted from the priesthood.
Specifically, we want you to:
–publicly warn New Jersey citizens (not just Catholics) about where Cashman is,
–publicly explain why you and your colleagues only informed a small number of people about him,
–publicly release the names of all credibly accused predator priests and,
–aggressively reach out – using church bulletins, parish websites and pulpit announcements – to anyone else who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes and urge them to call law enforcement.
It’s irresponsible for Catholic officials to recruit, educate, ordain, hire, train and protect predator priests, and then do little or nothing when they’re caught, refuse to warn parishioners and the public about them, not inform law enforcement and not trying to stop them from molesting again. And it's irresponsible for Catholic diocesan officials claim they are not responsible for a cleric because he or she belongs to a religious order.
Now is not the time for you or any other Catholic official to move backward on child safety.
We hope you will show real courage and compassion by working hard to prevent future crimes and cover ups and find and help other victims who continue to suffer in silence, shame and self-blame.
Mark Crawford, New Jersey SNAP director, (732 632 7687, firstname.lastname@example.org)
David Clohessy, Director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell (email@example.com)
Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (314 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)