SNAP applauds lawsuit filed against the Catholic Diocese of Nashville

A lawsuit was filed Monday asserting that the Catholic Diocese of Nashville and St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, turned a blind eye to the horrific crimes committed by the director of religious education, Michael D. Lewis. The lawsuit cites these Catholic institutions failed to stop Lewis from repeatedly raping and sexually exploiting a child on church property from 2014–2017. The alleged perpetrator, Michael D. Lewis, faces trial in February 2022 in Rutherford County on felony sex crimes charges related to this abuse. 

Our hearts go out to the victim in this case, and we applaud her for the tremendous amount of courage and strength she had for coming forward. We know all too well that reliving the trauma of sexual abuse in these legal matters can be burdensome. We are very grateful for our SNAP leaders in Tennessee, Susan Vance, and David Brown, who has put forth an enormous amount of effort to ensure that victims are not alone, especially in this matter, and to our Survivor Support Coordinator, Melanie Sakoda, for her support of those involved.

These atrocities and cover-up by church officials, school administrators to this day is hard to comprehend. The exploitative, harmful, and deviant culture still shows signs of life within the Catholic church, despite their claim that 'it is in the past.’ For any religious institution to represent as God’s envoy on earth, the inherent power imbalance undermines it and demonstrates that the Catholic church is far from spiritual. We hope Bishop J. Mark Spalding, who himself held high ranking positions within the diocese of Nashville prior to being made Bishop, takes this and any outstanding matters regarding allegations seriously and includes abusive laypersons employed by the Catholic Diocese of Nashville on their list of credibly accused.  

Susan Vance, SNAP of Tennessee sums it up perfectly, "The horror of child sexual abuse is exposed once again in the Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee.  The safety measures to protect a child were ignored.  The Dallas Charter of 2002 which the Bishops of the Catholic Church claim protects our children is a travesty.  The unfolding of this case should shock and outrage every citizen of Tennessee.  The shockwaves should send every Catholic in the pews running for an explanation of how this could have occurred when they were assured otherwise by the Catholic hierarchy.  Kudos to every person in Jane Doe's sphere who stood up for her against an uncaring church."  

We strongly encourage any victim who has suffered similar harm to come forward to secular authorities and file a report. Additionally, any person who has knowledge of abuses that may have occurred within the Catholic Diocese of Nashville to also make a report. We support you and invite you to network with those who have had to walk the very same path here at SNAP

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP President, [email protected], 814-341-8386, Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]), SNAP Leaders in Tennesse, Susan Vance, (865-927-2923 [email protected]), David Brown, (901-569-4500 [email protected])

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