PA – Bishop Bartchak appoints new review board, SNAP responds

For immediate release, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Statement by Melanie Sakoda of Moraga, California, Volunteer Member of the Board of Directors of SNAP, the Survivors Network (

Bishop Mark Bartchak, head of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, recently announced the new seven members of his Dio­cesan Review Board. The Pennsylvania State Attorney General once described the previous Board as a tool for concealing sex abuse allegations.

SNAP, the Survivors Network, applauds Bishop Bartchak for following through on his March promise to replace the old Board. However, we wish that more information about the individual members of the Board had accompanied this announcement. In particular, SNAP would like to know if any of the seven members are themselves victims of clergy sexual abuse. It seems important to us that the Board, which includes two clergymen, also has representation from the survivor community.

We hope that additional information about the members of the Board will be forthcoming soon, and that whatever the Board’s composition, that it truly works to protect the children of the Diocese, rather than following in the footsteps of the former Board.

(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 members. Our website is

Contacts - Melanie Jula (, Joelle Casteix (,Barbara Dorris (

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  • John Nesbella
    commented 2017-08-23 14:53:18 -0500
    And third, what is Bishop Bartchak going to do to address the question of Justice?
    The survivors were denied justice and their day in court was denied because the Roman Catholic diocese of Altoona-Johnstown rigged the system against them: by playing the priest shell-game, by having court records sealed, by outright lying to survivors and their families. Not just the system of justice in the church (which is non existent) but the secular justice system was corrupted by the Roman Catholic diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Roman Catholic policeman, DAs, politicians and Judges all broke the law and protected criminal priests instead of innocent children. Once the SOL expired the diocese washed their hands of responsibility. Thousands of people had their childhood and innocence destroyed and lost their faith and church and Bartchak thinks that playing the review board shuffle will make up for destroyed lives. For a man of his education and intelligence this is a pathetic attempt to convince people he is doing something-reminiscent of the game playing of Bishop Adamec.
  • John Nesbella
    commented 2017-08-23 14:16:24 -0500
    I have two questions for Bishop Bartchak and the people of the diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

    1). If the Grand Jury report said there were over 50 priests and religious brothers involved in abuse how come only about two dozen names appear on the dioceses’ list of sex molesters? The name of Brother Baker and Fr. Martin Brady do not even appear-why? Bartchak promised to publish the names.

    2). What does Bartchak’s sweeping reforms do to help the hundreds and thousands of survivors that the diocese screwed through their coverups and refusal to help in the past? These people never got any help from the church and it appears that they never will.

    Bartchak is church lawyer and he is playing lawyer games. He is not being a pastor and helping the sheep that his wolves in shepards’ clothing raped. His sweeping changes were proposed in Dallas by the USCCB almost fifteen years ago.

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