PA - Wrongful death suit filed vs. predator priest; SNAP responds

For immediate release: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747[email protected])


This is an absolutely heartbreaking case. We grieve with the relatives and friends of Sean McIlmail. And we share their sad belief that only through brave legal action will other innocent children be spared the horror of childhood sexual victimization by Catholic clerics and adult psychological victimization by Catholic officials.

This suit is brought by Deborah and Michael McIlmail, kind but wounded parents, on behalf of their son and other children who have been assaulted by priests, nuns, seminarians, and other Catholic employees. We are deeply moved by and grateful for their deep courage.

For years, these parents fought valiantly to help and save their son. They have suffered immeasurably. We hope and believe this action will bring them some measure of comfort and justice. Because they are speaking up and exposing corruption, they are helping to protect others. From this day forward, they can take some consolation in knowing that they’re doing all they can to prevent more devastating clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

Father Robert L. Brennan could – and should - still be charged, convicted and kept away from kids. There are, we strongly suspect, several of his victims who are young enough to still pursue criminal cases. For the safety of children, we desperately hope they will do so.

And we hope that every single current and former church employee or member, who saw, suspected or suffered crimes or misdeeds – by Father Brennan or other clerics – will find courage and speak up.  That’s what protects kids – when adults care enough to call police and prosecutors about known or suspected child sex crimes.

Similar wrongful death lawsuits filed by families of alleged clergy sex abuse victims have been filed in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, Kentucky, Oregon, Virginia, and Delaware.

And other wrongful death suits have been filed against Catholic officials, including the James Chevedden case in California and the James Ellison case in Wisconsin.

In July, a similar case settled in the Kansas City Missouri diocese for $2.25 million. That diocese is headed by Bishop Robert Finn, who was convicted last year of concealing evidence of child sex crimes from the police.

Earlier this year, a similar suit was filed in the St. Louis archdiocese involving a now-defrocked priest, Bryan Kuchar, who was convicted in a criminal trial of molesting a boy.

These lawsuits are tough, legally and emotionally. But for many, it’s far tougher to lose a child and do nothing to protect other children from similar devastation. Again, we applaud Sean’s parents for finding the strength to help expose and deter horror.

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747[email protected]

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