OH- Victims challenge Youngstown bishop

For immediate release: Monday, August 11, 2014

For more information: Judy Jones (636) 433-2511, [email protected], David Clohessy of St. Louis (314) 566-9790 cell,
[email protected]

Abuse victims challenge bishop

Stop defaming us,” group says

“Let's have an open discussion,” they ask

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is challenging Youngstown's Catholic bishop to a public discussion about his handling of child molesting clerics and is accusing him of “defaming” their organization.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing Bishop George Murry urging him to set up  “an open debate or discussion about the on-going clergy sex abuse and cover up scandal.”

The request comes on the heels of last week's disclosure that Deacon Ernest Formichelli has allegedly been ousted as a teacher and a deacon in the diocese. The Ohio State Board of Education has also permanently revoked Formichelli's two teaching licenses.

“Bishop Murry's spokesman, Fr. John Jerek, claims we're misinformed, but conveniently, neither man will explain why," says David Clohessy of St Louis, SNAP's executive director. "They're slinging mud when they should be shedding light. That's not helpful. So we hope that Bishop Murry will overcome his fears and sit down with us in public and talk about this troubling situation.” 

“Murry keep promising 'transparency' in clergy sex cases so why wouldn't he have an open meeting about the biggest crisis the US Catholic church has ever faced?” said Judy Jones, SNAP's Midwest associate director. "The bishop only comments on clergy sex cases through a spokesman, who issues a written statement only when forced to do so by disclosures from victims or reports from journalists. That's no way to inspire confidence, bring healing, or clarify confusion.”

Besides Formichelli, other publicly accused child molesting Youngstown area clerics include: Fr. Thomas J. Crum, Fr. Robert E. Reidy, Fr. John F. Warner, Fr. Robert Hill, and Fr. John E. Hammer. (See BishopAccountability.org)

Formichelli's current whereabouts are unknown. 

A copy of SNAP's letter to Murry, 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)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])


Monday, August 11, 2014

Bishop George Murry
Diocese of Youngstown
144 West Wood Street
Youngstown, Ohio 44503

Dear Bishop Murry:

In a hurtful move last week, regarding child sex abuse allegations against Deacon Ernest Formichelli, your vicar of clergy, Fr. John Jerek, said: “SNAP has been misinformed and is operating under suspicions, not facts.” 

We call on you to either clarify or denounce Fr. Jerek's statement. It's defamatory to level a vague accusation against us while you hide facts that could protect children.

You have ousted Formichelli as a deacon. But you didn't tell parishioners or the public.

You no longer let Formichelli teach at schools. But you didn't tell parishioners or the public.
And even now, after Ohio's board of education has permanently revoked both of Formichelli's teaching licenses, you refuse to tell parishioners or the public what Formichelli has done to warrant these penalties.

Instead, you claim that alleged secular restrictions prevent you from “giving specifics on the employment of any individual." Then why did you remove and make public the names of accused child molesting clerics like Fr. Crum and Fr. Warner, but now claim you can't make public the name of an accused teacher/deacon who worked in your diocese for years? 

It insults us and your flock for you to pretend to be powerless to expose child molesting clerics. Roughly 30 U.S. bishops have posted on their websites the names of predator priests. Yet you claim you can't be honest and tell your flock that Formichelli has been ousted because of credible child sex abuse reports?

Bishop, there seem to be repeated misunderstandings between you and our group. In case after case, we see things one way, you see things another way. We make public what we know about abuse and cover up in Youngstown. And instead of being forthright, you let others speak for you through terse, carefully crafted media statements that obscure the truth. 

Then we hear complaints from your flock that your comments actually confuse the situation instead of illuminate the situation.
Bishop, kids are safest when the truth is exposed and understood. So we're inviting you to call a town hall meeting to publicly discuss your handling of the child molesting clerics scandal.

We await your answer.

Judy Jones (636) 433-2511, [email protected]

David Clohessy of St. Louis (314) 566-9790 cell, [email protected]

Showing 2 comments

  • Not Abused Anymore
    commented 2014-11-15 22:20:33 -0600
    Fr. Thomas J. Crum, Fr. Robert E. Reidy, Fr. John F. Warner, Fr. Robert Hill, and Fr. John E. Hammer. Plus Formacelli- 6 known or suspected predatory members of a small organization. How many of these people were criminally prosecuted? None. The church uses money to avoid the legal process that would hold management and offender accountable. Public discourse by the church over this issue is forbidden. Thank God for SNAP for being the voice of the survivor and demanding accountability of those who break promises and will not respond to legitimate questions. Lawyers and legal contracts cover up the ugliness of the abuse. It is basically intimidation by the offending organization. Take the money or you will not get justice. I fault no Survivor in their decision to accept a settlement. Had one been offered to me I would have taken it. However, the promised transparency will never come from the church. Apparently, the light of God does not come to bear in these matters. Children will be safest when the church comes to terms with this crisis honestly and with the firm conviction that when a pedophile is discovered they will be prosecuted and not given the financial plea bargain paid for by the deep pockets of a corrupt organization. The catholic church should be held to the same standards as any citizen who knows of abuse. Please know that if you were offended by any of these individuals your story has merit and should not be dismissed. Have the courage to speak out. The Truth sets us all free.
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