SNAP Honors the Bravery of Two Young Survivors in D.C.
For immediate Release: August 8, 2019
Two young girls are testifying in open court this week about the abuse they suffered at the hands of a parish priest in Washington D.C. We honor the bravery of these courageous and young survivors as they share details about things that should never have happened to them in the first place.
According to testimony heard in court yesterday, Fr. Urbano Vazquez repeatedly fondled, groped, and kissed the then-9-year-old victim whose family attended Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church in Columbia Heights. Our hearts ache for the pain and confusion that Fr. Vazquez subjected these young girls to and we hope that he is given the maximum possible punishment. And we hope that as this trial moves forward, these young girls are able to find the support and healing that they will need to recover from this trauma.
“I was abused from the ages of 8 to 12, so I can empathize with what these young girls are going through, but am incredibly impressed at their bravery,” said Becky Ianni, volunteer SNAP leader for Virginia and Washington D.C. “Even at the age of 48 it was hard for me to speak out and I can only imagine how difficult it is for these girls this week. But I believe that their example will inspire other young victims to tell their parents or a trusted adult when someone is hurting them.”
Anyone who has any knowledge of crimes committed by Fr. Vazquez or any other cleric, nun, or church staffer should follow in the footsteps of these brave girls and make a report to their local police and prosecutors today. They should also report to the U.S Attorney’s Office in D.C. (USADC.ReportClergyAbuse@usdoj.gov, (202) 252-7008) and the Washington D.C. Attorney General (online reporting form) as both offices are currently investigating clergy abuse. Silence is toxic but speaking up can make a big difference.
(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)