Sidewalk news conference abuse survivors and advocates at Diocesan Chancery in Sacramento
New Vatican law on the abuse of adults by clergy goes into effect December 8th
Sacramento Diocese already includes clerics who abused those aged 18-25 on its abuser list
Adult survivor who was older than 25 now asks for her perpetrator to be added
SNAP will also release its own more complete Sacramento list
The victims’ group believes that adult victims in California need a "Window to Justice"
WHAT: At a sidewalk news conference abuse survivors and advocates who are part of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, will urge the Diocese of Sacramento to add clerics who abused men or women over the age of 25 to its list of perpetrators. The group will also provide its own list for Sacramento and ask that those additional names be included as well. Finally, SNAP will call attention to the need for a California civil window for adult survivors such as the one now available for child victims in the state.
WHEN: December 8, 2021, at 11 AM
WHERE: Outside the Diocesan chancery office, 2110 Broadway (near 21st Street), in Sacramento
WHO: 4-5 abuse survivors and advocates, including the Sacramento area SNAP Leader, who wants to see the name of the priest who assaulted her when she was an adult added to the Diocesan list of accused clerics.
WHY: Back in June Pope Francis changed Catholic Church law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by clergy. The new provisions become effective today, December 8th. We believe that dioceses across the United States, Sacramento included, should now begin adding these clerics to their lists of abusers.
We certainly know that those priests who abuse adults sometimes abuse children as well. Out here in California, Fr. Jose Superiaso sexually abused a woman who was in her 20s and a youth coordinator for the Church, and also molested her 12-year-old sister. In a case out of the Archdiocese of Washington, Fr. Urbano Vasquez was convicted last week of sexually assaulting an adult female parishioner while serving time in prison for assaulting two little girls. The infamous case of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is another example. The Church apparently ignored McCarrick’s abuse of adults under his authority and took no action against the prelate until accusations of child sexual abuse became public in 2018.
In addition, SNAP has also seen cases where clergy accused of sexually abusing children are transferred to work in parishes or schools where there are few if any children. Fr. James A. Clark was already a convicted sex offender when he arrived at Corpus Christi Parish in Fremont, California, where he hurt “numerous” children. Fr. Clark’s next and last assignment in the Diocese of Oakland was at St. Anne’s in Walnut Creek, which serves the large retirement community of Rossmoor. The pastor assigned to St. Anne’s just after Fr. Clark, Fr. John McCracken, was also accused of child sexual abuse. We know that clergy sexual abuse is about power and control, not about sex. In addition to the possibility that there may be children present at these new assignments, adults could also be targeted and put at risk.
SNAP knows from its work with adult survivors that they – like children -- suffer greatly from the betrayal of a trusted clergyman. After all, in the Catholic tradition, all parishioners address the priest as “Father,” who is in a position of authority over their spiritual lives.
The Diocese of Sacramento has a jump on the new Vatican guidelines, in that its list already includes 8 priests who abused those between the ages of 18 to 25, 3 of whom were apparently only accused of abusing adults. While we are mystified by this age limitation, in light of the fact that Church law now criminalizes the sexual abuse of those over the age of 25 as well, we are here today to urge the Diocese to add all of the clergy who have sexually abused adults to their list of the accused.
Sacramento area SNAP Leader Dorothy Small is among those survivors who were sexually assaulted by a Diocesan priest as an adult. Dorothy wants to see Fr. Renerio Sabuga, Jr., also known as Fr. Jong, added to Sacramento’s list of abusers, particularly because she recently became aware that he is apparently still working as a priest in the Philippines. The Sacramento Diocese acknowledged to parishioners in 2017 that it had received a “credible” allegation that Fr. Sabuga had “conducted himself inappropriately with an adult.” Dorothy also received a $200,000 settlement from the Diocese in 2019. However, Fr. Sabuga’s name is not included on the Sacramento list of abusers. We do not completely understand why the Diocese did not include Fr. Sabuga earlier, but there seems to be absolutely no reason to exclude him now.
In addition to Fr. Sabuga, SNAP Treasurer Dan McNevin has found 24 other clerics that should be added to the Sacramento list. SNAP’s list will be available to the media on the 8th. We ask that the Diocese not only include these names on their list, but it also do more than just provide a link to the abusers from the Jesuit West Province on their own list. There are 7 priests on the Jesuit list who spent time in Sacramento working in schools and in churches who are not included in the section of the Diocesan list for those clerics who abused elsewhere. We hope that the investigation being conducted by the California Attorney General’s office will eventually publish a report, or an interim report, and reveal the identities of other perpetrators.
In thirteen states, it is a crime for clergy to have sex with parishioners or those they are counseling. Sadly, California is not among them. We hope the state legislature will consider making California the fourteenth state to protect men and women from religious predators. We also take note that New York legislators have proposed that the state open up a civil window for adult survivors, similar to the window currently open to child victims in California. The Adult Survivor Act would provide men and women in New York with a path to justice that is no longer available to them under the criminal law. SNAP believes that survivors in California and across the United States all deserve this opportunity to publicly expose dangerous perpetrators.
We are positive that those clergy who prey on men and women are living freely in Catholic parishes nationwide. It is time for those adults abused by these men to step out of the shadows, speak out, report to law enforcement, and begin to heal.
CONTACT: Dorothy Small, SNAP Sacramento ([email protected], 530-908-3676), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Dan McNevin, SNAP Treasurer ([email protected], 415-341-6417), Joelle Casteix, SNAP California Media Contact ([email protected], 949-322-7434), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267- 261-0578), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org.)