RI--RI predator priest is indicted
For immediate release: Friday, Nov. 21
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those
Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, [email protected])
A Rhode Island Catholic priest – Fr. Barry Meehan – now faces criminal child sex abuse charges. We call on Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin to personally visit every parish where the alleged predator worked, begging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call law enforcement.
All too often, child molesting clerics get expensive lawyers, exploit loopholes, and escape responsibility for their crimes. Even when they’re found guilty or plead guilty, they often rally their flock, pressure public officials and end up with little or no jail time. That’s irresponsible. That’s endangers kids.
The way to prevent this is simple: every person who has even a scintilla of information about Fr. Meehan’s crimes or misdeeds must call 911. This is no time to be complacent. Each one of us has a moral and civic duty to protect children by helping law enforcement catch and convict predators.
And all too often, Catholic officials passively sit back in criminal cases and do nothing. Tobin has a moral and civic duty too: to use his vast resources (church bulletins, parish websites and pulpit announcements) to reach out to others who may have been hurt by Fr. Meehan and prod them to get help.
We commend the two courageous and compassionate victims who found the strength to help police, protect kids, expose wrongdoers and start healing. That is a brave and responsible course of action. And we beg anyone else who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Meehan or cover ups by church officials to step forward too. We especially urge current and former Catholic employees in Rhode Island who may have heard rumors or reports of cover ups to speak up.
Finally, we commend members and leaders of our support group throughout New England who have been mounting a vigorous but quiet months-long effort to prod more victims in Rhode Island to call police and prosecutors. Their painstaking work is paying off and protecting children.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 18,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)