SD--Victims blast Sioux Falls bishop for honoring accused predator
For immediate release: Wednesday, Jan. 14
Monday, in an act of stunning insensitivity, a South Dakota bishop dedicated a building to his predecessor who was accused of molesting three children.
Sioux Falls Bishop Paul J. Swain led a public ceremony to name dedicated a homeless shelter after the now-deceased Bishop Paul V. Dudley, who alleged sexually abused in the St. Paul archdiocese.
In 1999, a woman accused Dudley of having molested her in the 1970s. In 2002, a man accused Dudley of having fondled him as a boy in the 1950s. And later in 2002, a second woman charged Dudley with behaving inapropriately toward her in the 1960s.
Church officials claim a so-called church “investigation” could not substantiate any of the accusations
Because of archaic, predator-friendly statutes of limitations and deeply wounded, shame-filled victims, it’s likely no one will ever know the full truth of the allegations against Bishop Dudley. Even so, here’s what matters now:
It usually takes victims of childhood horror decades to find the courage and strength to speak up. So it’s very possible that in the months and years ahead, more who say they were assaulted by Bishop Dudley may speak up.
And often, so-called “church investigations” that purportedly “exonerate” accused clerics end up being reversed when other victims, witnesses or whistleblowers come forward later.
So why take the risk of hurting even more those who are already in pain, or of discouraging other child sex abuse victims from reporting child molesting clerics who may still be molesting kids now?
Adults have a simple choice: We can act in ways that make it harder or easier for victims to protect children by exposing predators. Sioux Falls Catholic officials are making it harder.
Another question worth asking: Is there really no individual more deserving of this honor than a cleric who was accused of molesting three children?
And another way to look at this: Honoring Dudley won’t help Dudley. He’s deceased. But honoring Dudley could hurt victims and endanger kids. So why take those risks for a move that really won’t tangibly help anyone?
This is reminiscent of similar and tragic situation in Wyoming. In Torrington, a wing of the St. Joseph's Children's Home is named after now-retired Bishop Joseph Hart, a native of the Kansas City MO diocese.
Hart faces accusations from at least six men who say he molested them as children. At least five civil lawsuits involving alleged abuse by Hart have been settled by Catholic officials. Hart himself, individually, paid at least $10,000 to one of his accusers.
On the other hand, church staff in the Albany, New York diocese recently opted to rename a church building that had been dedicated to a credibly accused predator priest:
Is it too much to ask Catholic officials to err on the side of kindness and stop naming schools, buildings, scholarship programs and other things after clerics who face multiple accusations of child sex crimes?
Bill Cosby claims he’s innocent. And it’s unlikely the full story will ever be known about the rape and child sex accusations against him.
Still, thankfully, no one’s naming anything after Cosby at this point. And that’s just common sense and common decency. Why won’t Catholic officials meet at least this extraordinarily low standard?
Finally, instead of honoring Dudley, we again call on Bishop Swain to take a simple, inexpensive step to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded, by posting on his website the names, photos and whereabouts of all predator priests (proven, admitted and credibly accused) and personally visit the parishes where they worked, begging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 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)