PA-- Survivors’ group reacts to the release of the grand jury report
PA: Survivors’ group reacts to the release of the PA grand jury report
For immediate release, July 24, 2018
Statement by Tim Lennon, Volunteer President of the Board of Directors of SNAP, the Survivors Network (415-312-5820, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org)
Although we are extremely disappointed that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania did not see fit to make the entire grand jury report public, we are grateful that at least some of the truth will see the light of day.
After reviewing the entire document, Judy Jones, Becky Ianni and I will be holding media events in the six dioceses covered in the report (Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton) to offer support for survivors and highlight the findings to raise community awareness.
However, without even examining the 884-page report, we confidently predict, based on the previous grand jury investigations of the Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnston Dioceses, that it will show that Catholic Church officials callously ignored the danger of grievous harm to innocent children and covered up sex crimes by clergy and other church workers.
But knowledge of past crimes is only valuable if it is translated into actions that will help prevent future sexual abuse and cover-ups. Toward that end:
--We urge Catholics to wake up and hold church officials accountable. and to believe victims who come forward. instead of saying to them, "get over it"
--We call on police and prosecutors in Pennsylvania, across the United States and around the world to recognize that cover-ups are the rule, rather than the exception in both Catholic dioceses and other institutions. Law enforcement can play a crucial role in protecting the vulnerable and comforting the abused when they aggressively investigate these old crimes.
--We urge Pennsylvania lawmakers specifically and all lawmakers in general to make sure that the courthouse doors are open to all survivors of these heinous crimes and cover ups, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. PA legislators need to lift the civil and criminal statute of limitations for child sex crimes.and open a window of opportunity for older victims to file a suit to expose the truth and get a sense of some justice.
--Instead of the bishops just saying they are being open and transparent, they should start doing it. We implore bishops and church officials in Catholic dioceses around the world who have not already done so to post the names of all church workers who have been found guilty, who have admitted, or who have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of children, in the interest of public safety and for the healing of victims. These men should also reach out to all of the communities where known predators worked and beg survivors to come forward and report to law enforcement. Bishops should go to every parish in their diocese and reach out to any other potential victims and urge them to come forward and contact police.
--We call on people of good will everywhere to insist that churches and other institutions voluntarily divulge the kind of secret records that Pennsylvania bishops were forced to produce during the grand jury investigation.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 supporters. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org )