OR--Victims urge ministers to shun church over abuse case
For immediate release: Friday, May 22
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
We urge Portland’s religious leaders to shun officials at a local church and we urge local law enforcement to charge those church officials with obstructing justice, evidence tampering, witness intimidation or other offenses because of how they dealt with a predatory pastor.
"This was a worst-case scenario when it comes to a church and a pastor not cooperating." That’s how Washington prosecutor Kevin Barton described officials at Bethel United Pentecostal Church in Hillsboro.
According to The Oregonian, in a recent child sex abuse case, the church's head pastor
- “declined to speak with police without a briefing on their investigation,”
- “then declined unless his insurance agent could be present” and
- revealed to police that he had known about the abuse of one boy, told him to document it in a letter (but the boy didn't speak English well and was incapable of writing a letter in English).
This pastor should be harshly punished. So should any other current or former Bethel United Pentecostal staffer who ignored or concealed child sex crimes by ex-youth minister Dylan Ritterman.
If that punishment can happen through the legal system, that’s ideal. We urge police and prosecutors to look long and hard at charging Bethel officials and prosecuting them vigorously.
If that punishment cannot happen through the legal system, we urge Portland’s religious community to publicly denounce Bethel staff and shun them. Ministers should not idly sit back while their colleagues – in any denomination – endanger kids, conceal crimes, rebuff police, and behave in ways that bring shame on people of faith.
When ministers do nothing while other ministers endanger kids, all churches become less safe.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)