If any prosecutor or public official feels discomfort with quiet settlements, we hope they will convey their concerns to Archbishop Rigali and other church officials who routinely insist that abuse survivors sign gag orders (which are actually not legally enforceable) in order to receive funds for desperately needed therapy. It might be more constructive, however, for McCullough and his colleagues to publicly urge crime victims to disclose our experiences to prosecutors. Unlike City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and district attorneys across the country, McCullough has shown no particular interest in investigating sexual abuse by priests, which we find troubling.
Joyce, to her credit, at least asked for and attended a meeting with Archbishop Rigali, which she publicly discussed both before and afterwards. In comments to the Post Dispatch, she
emphatically encouraged those hurt by abusive priests to contact her. (All too often, we tend to approach church officials first, which is no surprise since most abuse survivors come from very devout Catholic families.) No other Missouri or Illinois prosecutors have taken even these "baby steps."
Some survivors have begun resisting church pressure to sign gag orders. But it must be remembered that many survivors who settle do so only after having been worn down by aggressive church legal tactics, long delays, high medical and therapy bills, and pressing needs to try as best they can to move on with their lives.
Our primary mission in SNAP is to provide healing and support for men and women sexually victimized by clergy. We consider working with the media to expose the depth and breadth of this scandal as part of our healing process.
But in some states, SNAP members have gone beyond this mission, and lobbied for more "survivor-friendly" laws, especially those that would extend the criminal or civil statute of limitations. (That would enable more perpetrators to be brought to justice over longer periods of time).