SNAP calls for investigation into Dallas Episcopal Church
We belong to a confidential, independent support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
We’re here to push for tangible action to better protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded in four ways. But first, we want to express our deepest, heartfelt sympathy to the two brave families that have reported child sex crimes and cover ups at this school. They should never have had to endure such awful treatment by school employees and supervisors.
At the same time, however, we also want to commend these two families for bravely telling the truth, at great personal risk, and thus helping to expose reckless, callous, self-serving Episcopalian school officials who put their reputations and comfort ahead of children’s safety and healing. Kids are safer when adults speak up about child predators, and that’s exactly what these courageous kids and adults have done. All Dallas citizens, especially parents, owe these two families a debt of gratitude.
We hope that others who see, suspect or suffer child sex crimes – in any church or school- will be inspired by their bravery to call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.
Today, we’re calling on
--local prosecutors to open a grand jury investigation into abuse and cover up allegations at the Episcopal School of Dallas,
--Episcopalian school officials to re-consider their decision to appeal a recent $9 million verdict in a child sex abuse and cover up case,
--anyone who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes or cover ups at the school to step forward, call police, protect others and start healing, and
--Dallas’ Episcopal bishop to use his resources (diocesan website, parish bulletins, etc.) to aggressively seek out and help anyone else who witnessed or experienced child sex crimes at the school.
First, our message to local prosecutors is simple – don’t focus strictly on those who commit child sex crimes. Go after those who ignore, conceal and enable child sex crimes. By investigating and hopefully charging school employees who protected a predator and punished a victim, prosecutors can help deter such irresponsible, hurtful misdeeds by others who work with kids.
Second, school officials have every legal right to appeal the recent jury verdict. But doing so won’t protect another child. It will only further rub salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of these two brave, suffering families. And it will show, again, that Episcopal school staff cares more about themselves and their assets and their reputations than they do about kids’ safety.
Third, we beg every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes or cover ups at this school to step forward, call police, protect others and start healing. It’s very tempting to do what is the easiest – keep quiet. And for victims, that’s a very effective short term coping mechanism. But over the long haul, it’s terribly destructive. The lifelong effects of childhood victimization slowly and imperceptibly eat away at your self-esteem, trust and faith.
The solution is to speak up and share your burden with those you love and trust. Staying silent helps no one. It doesn’t help you heal. It doesn’t stop child predators.
So please, dig deep, find courage, speak up, and start healing yourself and protecting others.
Fourth, Dallas’ Episcopal bishop is supposed to care for his flock. But as best we can tell, he’s been silent about this egregious case. Since this is an Episcopal school, founded and headed by an Episcopal priest, with Episcopal students and staff, the bishop can’t duck and dodge this scandal.
The bishop has considerable resources - diocesan website, parish bulletins, pulpit announcements, employees and volunteers. He can, and must, use them to aggressively seek out and help anyone else who witnessed or experienced child sex crimes at the school.
Thousands of students attend or have attended this school. Simple math and common sense tell us that likely dozens of them were molested – by teachers, staff, relatives, neighbors, and other predators. The bishop can’t stay silent. Knowing what we all now know about allegations of repeated cover ups at the school, we strongly feel the bishop has a moral and civic duty to follow Christ’s admonition in the parable of the good shepherd and take strong measures to find others who were violated here and are still suffering in shame, silence and self blame.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])