Victims challenge San Diego bishop on Compensation Program
Victims challenge San Diego bishop
Two of them rebuff church-run plans
“If you care, why the unfair deadline?” they ask
SNAP: “Don’t make survivors sign away legal rights!”
It’s a scheme to make sure “cover ups stay covered up,” victims say
Bishops’ program “endangers kids but protects prelates,” SNAP charges
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, two clergy sex abuse victims
--- announce they will NOT participate in any church-run ‘victim pay off plan’ and
--- charge that the plan is intended to safeguard bishops’ careers, not kids.
Other survivors and their supporters will urge San Diego’s bishop to stop insisting that victims who want help from the church
--sign away their legal rights to file abuse and cover up lawsuits, and
--met a “rigid, self-serving church deadline” to get help.
The group will also
--prod San Diego church officials to expand their official “credibly accused” clergy list to include other categories of church staff,
--urge anyone who “saw, suspected or suffered” abuse to call the state attorney general, and
--beg “victims who are still suffering in shame and silence” to “speak up and start healing.”
Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 11:00 a.m.
On the sidewalk the St. Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral, 1535 Third Ave. in downtown San Diego (619-239-0229)
Three-four members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including two clergy abuse victims who will not be participating in church-run compensation plans and a San Diego man who is a local volunteer leader
---1) In May, six California bishops (including San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy) announced ‘compensation plans’ in which “officials, paid and picked by bishops, will give money to victims who pledge they’ll never sue the church,” SNAP says. The group is highly critical of the intent and the design of the programs, calling them “largely a self-serving ruse.”
The launch of the programs was announced days after state legislators unanimously passed a little-noticed bill giving victims greater time to sue those who commit and conceal abuse, and uncovering through such lawsuits, the names and actions of complicit high-ranking church officials.
“It seems to us that this timing shows that bishops are NOT sincere about helping deeply suffering victims,” said Paul Livingston, a SNAP leader and abuse survivor. “Church pay off plans primarily benefit the wrongdoers, not the wounded.”
“Bishops are trying to exploit poor and struggling victims – many of whom desperately need funds to pay for medical and therapy bills and other essentials – by basically forcing them to forever give up the chance to sue clerics who commit or conceal abuse and meet an deadline that only benefits bishops,” said David Clohessy of SNAP.
Also, as far as SNAP can tell, the plans also only include those survivors who were abused by diocesan clergy. This means that many victims, including those abused by order or extern priests or deacons, as well as those hurt by brothers, nuns, seminarians or lay employees will not reap any benefit at all.
While SNAP is leery of the clergy compensation plans, it respects the decisions of survivors who decide that participation in such a program is right for them personally. However, the grou strongly urges them to consult with an attorney and learn what their legal options are before signing away all of their rights.
Heather Taylor (who reports having been molested by now-deceased Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua) and Robert Senior (who reports having been molested by a California cleric) will both discuss why they aren’t interested in church run compensation programs. Taylor is represented by Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson (651 227 9990, firstname.lastname@example.org). Senior is represented by San Diego attorney Jim Burns.
---2) Last November, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that he and his staff are gathering information about clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
“This is where clergy sex crimes and cover ups should be reported – to the independent, experienced, unbiased professionals in law enforcement, not to self-serving church officials,” said Livingston
--- 3) Last year Bishop McElroy released a list of "clergy with credible allegations of sexual abuse of children.” Abusive nuns, monks, brothers, seminarians, bishops, teachers and lay employees were omitted, as were those clergy who sexually exploited or harassed or raped victims who were over the age of 18.
The group wants Bishop McElroy, for the safety of the vulnerable, to “permanently and prominently post names of all proven, admitted and credibly accused abusive church staff – past and present – along with their photos, whereabouts and full work histories.”
Earlier this year, SNAP challenged the San Diego bishop to add three publicly accused clerics to his list, each of whom spent time in his diocese: Fr. William G. Allison, Fr. Harold C. Depp and Fr. Michael Higgins, but so far their names are still missing.