OH -- Bishop should "stop ducking, dodging & deceiving," SNAP says
Victims want teacher fired
He's a defrocked Catholic priest
And he faces at least two accusers
SNAP: "Why is school putting teenagers at risk?"
Group will hand-deliver a letter to college president
Bishop should "stop ducking, dodging & deceiving," SNAP says
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and supporters will call on college officials to
-- urge them to fire or suspend a twice-accused defrocked predator priest who's now a teacher,
-- apologize for and explain their "reckless" decision to hire him,
-- write to all staff and students disclosing his past, and
-- prod anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or misdeeds by him to call police.
They will also
--try to hand-deliver a letter to college administrators responsible for his hiring, and
--blast Steubenville Catholic officials for "endangering kids" by refusing to tell parents, parishioners and the public that he was kicked out of the priesthood because of at least two credible child sex abuse accusations.
Friday, March 13 at 1:00 p.m.
On the sidewalk outside Belmont College, at the Hammond Road entrance (near the Cindy L. Jones Child Development Center) in St Clairsville, OH
Two-three members of a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a Missouri woman who is the organization's associate Midwest director
As US colleges make strides to combat sexual violence, Belmont College is moving in the opposite direction, SNAP charges, by keeping a defrocked priest and accused serial child predator on its payroll and helping him gain access to more innocent kids and vulnerable adults, SNAP charges.
Gary A. Zalenski of Martin's Ferry teaches math at the school (740 695 9500 ext. 1468, [email protected]). Last October, he was permanently ousted from the Catholic priesthood by Vatican officials. At least two women have reported that he molested them when they were girls. One of them is Beth Ann Rocker. At least three times, church officials sent Zalenski to treatment centers.
For the safety of students and staff, SNAP believes college officials should fire or at least suspend Zalenski and hire independent experts to investigate the serious allegations against him. And the school should also immediately tell students and staff about these accusations, the group says.
Last month, Zalenski gave a lengthy interview to WTOV news in which he claims he's innocent.
http://www.wtov9.com/shared/news/features/top-stories/stories/wtov_news9-special-assignment-gary-zalenski-fight-his-faith-7734.shtml Â Â
(NOTE: the story suggests that one woman has accused Zalenski. There are actually two women who have accused him of molesting them as kids.)
Despite an allegedly binding US Catholic church abuse policy that mandates "openness and transparency" about clergy sexual abuse, Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton:
-- kept the Vatican's decision to oust Zalenski secret for more than a month,
-- disclosed it only to his flock, not to the public
-- put a tiny, two sentence notice about it in a church publication and
-- refuses to give interviews or talk publicly about Zalenski.
Because Zalenski now has access to teenagers, Monforton must do more, SNAP says. He should start by simply holding a news conference warning parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about Zalenski and explaining, in detail, why he was defrocked, the group maintains.
Blasting him for "reckless and selfish secrecy" the group says Monforton should be held partially responsible if he hurts someone at Belmont.
"Zalenski has been deemed by his own supervisors to be too dangerous to be a Catholic priest. He's been formally and permanently expelled from ministry by the Vatican," says David Clohessy of SNAP. "Yet Belmont College President Paul Gasparro is willing to endanger his school and its students by giving Zalenski a title, a paycheck and access to and authority over vulnerable teens and young people."
"There's a great shortage of priests. And Catholic officials are often biased toward priests and against accusers. So they often refuse to defrock even the most egregious child molesting clerics. So it speaks volumes that Zalenski has been ejected from the priesthood," Clohessy stressed.
Judy Jones (636 433 2511, [email protected]), David Clohessy (314 566 9790, [email protected])