Settlement Reached in Arkansas Clergy Abuse Case, SNAP Calls for Further Action
Now that five men have bravely disclosed their childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a priest, Arkansas Catholic officials must work to find others who were hurt and may be trapped in silence, shame and self-blame.
We are grateful to the survivors of Fr. John McDaniel who stepped forward, sought justice and exposed this predator. We believe that other victims of sexual violence will feel vindication because of their courage, and we hope this settlement brings them some measure of healing.
But while this case has settled, the work is far from over. Most abuse victims never report what happened to them and instead live silently with their pain. If Bishop Anthony Taylor wants to be a real shepherd, he will use parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements to urge anyone with information or suspicions about Fr. McDaniel – or any other abusive priest, nun, deacon or other church staffer – to come forward to independent sources of help, like police, prosecutors, therapists and support groups like ours.
We also call on church officials from the Diocese of Little Rock to explain why this settlement was made public by the victims and their attorney, and not by officials at them diocese themselves. According to reports, the settlement was reached in May but is only being made public nearly two months later. Such action does not live up the promise of being “open and honest” that church officials have been repeating since 2002.
And we hope that legislators in Arkansas are paying attention to this case and how survivors were forced to seek redress from the church itself instead of being able to use the court system. We hope this news will spur decisionmakers in Arkansas to begin the much-needed process of reforming their statute of limitations laws that protect institutions and abusers instead of children and survivors.
(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)