Priest in Missouri Determined to be “Credible” Abuser by Review Board, SNAP Calls for Outreach
A retired cleric from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau has been determined by a diocesan review board to have engaged in “inappropriate physical/sexual misconduct” with a minor. We call on Catholic officials to release more detail about this case so that parents and parishioners can ensure vulnerable children are protected and so other survivors or witnesses are encouraged to come forward and get help.
A news release from Diocesan leaders in Springfield – Cape Girardeau reported that Fr. Gary Carr was "credibly accused" of abusing a child approximately thirty years ago when the boy was between the ages of 10 and 13. According to Catholic officials, Fr. Carr was placed on “Administrative Leave and restricted in his priestly ministry” in 2008 by Bishop James Johnston, yet no information was made public at that time about the actions that led to Fr. Carr’s restrictions. We strongly suspect that this means Diocesan leaders have known that Fr. Carr was an abuser for at least twelve years without saying anything to parishioners or to the public, a dramatic failure to live up the USCCB’s promise to be “open and transparent” in cases of clergy sexual abuse.
We applaud the victim who came forward to report Fr. Carr. Now we call on Catholic officials to be more forthcoming in this case and to share details about when they first received reports about the priest, and what actions were taken in response to those reports. They should also be clear about the number of accusers that have identified the cleric as their abuser, and where those abuses were said to have taken place. The more information that is made known, the better communities will be able to protect children and do outreach to still-suffering survivors.
Steps should also be taken by Catholic officials in every diocese where Fr. Carr worked – Springfield – Cape Girardeau, MO; Phoenix, AZ; Santa Fe, NM; and Juneau, AK – to share information about the priest's work history and the allegations that have been made. The bishop in each of these dioceses should personally visit each parish where Fr. Carr worked and publicize this news in order to encourage other victims or witnesses to come forward. Following years of silence about this cleric, it is time for Catholic officials to use every resource at their disposal to spread this information. That is the least they can do and we call on them to take these steps immediately.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)