SNAP Legal Action

The landing page for all information related to the SNAP and CCR filing in the International Criminal Court which names Pope Benedict and other church officials in a lawsuit alleging systemic human rights violations. Here you will find important documents and fact sheets, and will also be able to show your support for abuse survivors.

Welcome to the landing page for all things related to the SNAP and CCR lawsuit filed against Vatican officials and Pope Benedict for human rights violations. Below you will find informative documents and links to other important websites.

SNAP and CCR file supplemental evidence on April 11, 2012

  • Read the supplemental filing here

Editorials by SNAP Leadership on the ICC filing:

  • Op-ed by David Clohessy, SNAP Director, in the Star-Tribune: Read it here.
  • Op-ed by Barbara Blaine, SNAP President. in the Guardian: Read it here.

Documents, News, and Fact Sheets:

  1. Press release
  2. Press advisory for DC and NYC
  3. Facts of the case
  4. Complete text of the filing communication to the ICC
  5. Statements by SNAP Leaders
  6. Biographies of SNAP and CCR members involved
  7. List of cities on the Europe tour and times of events
  8. ICC Letter from Prosecution 
  9. "Abuse Victims ask Court to Prosecute the Vatican"- New York Times
  10. "Hague Court Declines Inquiry into Church Abuse Cover-up"- New York Times

Links for more information:

What experts on law and religion are saying:

  • "The legal situation is not yet clear," but that the dossier submitted "re-opens the question over a cover-up in the 1980s and 1990s. The problem remains that the Vatican has not opened its archives and has not even launched an international investigation into its dioceses around the world." - Marco Politi, Vatican Expert and commentator for Il Fatto Quotidiano. Taken from the Montreal Gazette. 
  • "It is a very slim avenue, but it's an avenue nonetheless," - Lorraine Smith, International Bar Association. Taken from Reuters. 
  • "You get a great deal of publicity," "And you put new pressure on the national courts, letting them know that if they don't prosecute there are alternatives." - William Burke White, Deputy Dean and Professer of Law at UPenn. Taken from the Bellingham Herald.
  •  "At least since 2001-2002, [Pope Benedict] has at least had primary responsibility for these cases," "It's unlikely that the court will take this up, but they won't be able to dismiss it easily. They may have to open up a preliminary investigation." - Laurie Goodstein, Religion correspondent for the New York Times. Taken from PRI.
  • "Jurisdiction is a hurdle. "The court has handled war crimes, but the argument can be made that the abuse of children is as tragic and heinous as anything. It's a crime against humanity." - Mike Pfau, Seattle attorney. Taken from the Seattle Times.
  • The complaint to the ICC "suddenly reframes the issue in the public consciousness." - Tim Kosnoff, Seattle attorney. Taken from the Seattle Times.
  • "The ICC filing marks the most substantive effort yet to hold the pope and Vatican accountable in an international court for sexual abuse by priests." - Nathan Koppel, WSJ contributor. Taken from the Wall Street Journal.
  • "The Holy See is a sovereign, which like all other sovereigns, must be accountable for violations of human rights.  SNAP's action under the ICC is timely and appropriate.  If successful, it will secure more protection for children not just against the Holy See, but all sovereigns." - Marci A. Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Yeshiva University


Media Statements

Former Staten Island Priest Faces Fourth Accusation and New Criminal Charges Related to Child Sexual Abuse

(For Immediate Release May 24, 2022) 

A former Staten Island priest who in January was arrested on charges related to child sexual abuse now faces more charges. Fr. James Garisto, who is now the subject of four allegations of sexual abuse, has previously been accused and sued of child sexual abuse and now is facing potential criminal penalties. We applaud the brave survivors in each case against Garisto who have come forward and hope that they are able to find a semblance of justice and healing through this process.

Fr. Garisto was first accused of sexual abuse in a civil suit, filed in July 2021, that was able to see a courtroom thanks to New York’s Child Victims Act. Then, in January 2022, he was arrested and charged for allegedly sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy while Garisto lived in Fishtown, PA yet was still employed by the Archdiocese of New York. Now, four months after his initial arrest in Philadelphia, Garisto has again been arrested on three charges: endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, and indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age.


Diocese of Rochester Catholic clergy abuse victims allowed to proceed with their claims; SNAP applauds the court ruling.

(For Immediate Release May 24, 2022) 

In a huge victory for victims of clergy abuse, a federal bankruptcy judge granted survivors permission to resume their previously paused actions against hundreds of independent Catholic corporations that did not seek bankruptcy protection. The judge's scathing ruling slammed what he perceived as the Diocese’s hardball tactics.

“Portraying itself as a victim, trying to do right by the Abuse Survivors, the Diocese predicts that if state court litigation is permitted to move forward against any of the Catholic Corporations, ‘the Diocese may be forced to pursue a non-consensual plan of reorganization,'” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul R. Warren wrote in a 16-page decision and order. “That is a pretty heavy-handed threat to be leveled at the people who are the real victims here—the Abuse Survivors.”

To us, this victory shows the lengths that the Diocese of Rochester and many other Catholic dioceses throughout the country are willing to go to deny justice to victims. The tactics used by the Diocese attempted to minimize their responsibility for the injuries to survivors and to protect their assets rather than caring for those who have already suffered for decades because of unconscionable decisions made by Catholic officials: the victims of clergy sexual abuse.

We celebrate this victory with those survivors who can now have their day in court.

 CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected] 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected] 814-341-8386)

(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


Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee is set to meet following a scathing report into abuse and cover-up, SNAP Responds

(For Immediate Release May 24, 2022) 


The 288-page bombshell report into abuse and cover-up within the Southern Baptist Convention released this past Sunday may be new to many outside of our space, but for survivors and advocates, this report is really just an affirmation and validation of the truths that survivors of abuse within the SBC have been trying to bring to light for years. The reality is survivors of abuse within Baptist communities have been sounding the alarm for decades. Absent survivors like Christa Brown, Amy Smith, David Pittman, and others, we believe this issue would still be shrouded in darkness, and to that point, every parishioner in the SBC should be grateful for the efforts of survivors who have done more to protect children in these churches than the SBC's leadership themselves.

When the SBC Executive Committee meets today, they should, for the safety of children and the healing of survivors, immediately make public the list of 700+ names of ministers accused of sexual abuse the SBC has secretly kept for years, regardless of how incomplete it may be. There is no reason for this information to stay shrouded in secrecy when it could help protect children today.

In our view, naming potentially dangerous predators beats naming none and encourages others who may have suffered similar harm to come forward and begin their healing journey and help to hold those responsible, accountable. Every individual that is disclosed may prevent one more girl or boy or adult from being sexually violated and traumatized for life.

Adult Survivors Act Passes in New York; SNAP praises the strength of survivors

(For Immediate Release May 24, 2022) 

Adult Survivors Act Passes in New York; SNAP praises the strength of survivors


The Adult Survivors Act has passed in the NY State Assembly, 148-3, and is now headed for Governor Hochul’s signature today. This legislation is a window of time to allow individuals who were 18 or older when they were sexually assaulted in New York State to file a lawsuit against the person who harmed them and/or the negligent institution.

SNAP was honored to be part of an incredible coalition led by Safe Horizon and thrilled to be with survivors and advocates to celebrate the news from New York’s State Assembly. The announcement that the Assembly passed the Adult Survivors Act is a huge victory for survivors’ rights in New York.

To us, there can be no justice without truth. And unless someone rises to tell you the truth, justice will be hard to reach, survivors deserve every ounce of credit for making this possible for adult victims in New York, they are the ones who rose.  

We believe all survivors deserve to have their day in court and hope that other states will follow in New York’s footsteps and work on their own version of this important legislation. We hope that the passage of the ASA will encourage victims of sexual violence, no matter their age or where their abuse occurred, to come forward and seek the justice they deserve. And we hope that those who may have reported in the past but were ignored or fell victim to archaic, predator-friendly laws will find the strength to go through the process one more time to find healing. 

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected] 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected] 814-341-8386)

(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

Archbishop bans Speaker Pelosi from communion; SNAP responds

(For Immediate Release May 21, 2022) 


The Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, announced Friday that the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has been barred from receiving communion in his Archdiocese due to her pro-choice stance. This is certainly not the first time that the Archbishop has spoken out publicly against politicians who support abortion rights, yet we cannot help but note that he has yet to publish a list of the clerics who molested boys and girls in his Archdiocese, unlike the majority of his peers.

In banning Speaker Pelosi from the receiving communion, the archbishop opined, "A Catholic legislator who supports procured abortion, after knowing the teaching of the Church, commits a manifestly grave sin which is a cause of most serious scandal to others." We believe the same can be said about Catholic clergy who sexually abuse children, and we wonder if all of them were similarly banned from receiving communion in the Archdiocese? Were the dozen clerics associated with San Francisco who were arrested, charged, indicted, or convicted of child sexual abuse allowed to continue approaching the cup?

In fact, priests accused of serious crimes against children are not only not usually banned from communion, but they also sometimes remain empowered to administer sacraments as well. Is raping a boy or girl not also a "grave sin?" Should Fr. David Ghiorso have been returned to active ministry while the lawsuit against him is still pending?  Should Fr. Daniel Carter have been left in ministry despite having a criminal complaint and a lawsuit filed against him?  Do Catholic prelates who have been complicit in transferring known perpetrators continue to give and take communion?

We find Archbishop Cordileone's position the epitome of hypocrisy. We ask that he refrain from public moralizing until he has done all that he can to make the children who attend his parishes, schools, and other facilities safe and to help those victimized in his Archdiocese heal. This grandstanding on one issue while refusing to come clean about the extent of abuse in his Archdiocese gets us further from that goal, not closer to it.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

Another Abuse and Cover-up Lawsuit Filed Against a Catholic School, this time in Oklahoma City

For Immediate Release: May 20, 2022

A lawsuit against a prominent Catholic high school in Oklahoma City that was filed by ten current and former students alleges that the school fostered a “rape culture” that has persisted since at least 2011. We applaud these brave students and their parents for coming forward and using their experiences and voices to force a change and create a safer school for future students.

According to the lawsuit, administrators and officials at Mount St. Mary’s Catholic High School have known for more than a decade that rape and sexual assault was rampant at the school, but rather than take action to protect students, those same employees instead worked to keep these incidences hidden to protect the reputation of the school. It is notable to us that the school’s president, vice president, and school counselor all resigned last year when the allegations started to surface. We believe this is a clear sign that there is merit to these allegations and call on police and prosecutors will look deeply into this case to see if any crimes were committed and to mete out justice.


Nationwide, New Zealand, 15 May 2022

It is repugnant to survivors of child sexual abuse to see a term associated with a sex
industry, that implicates helpless and innocent children as if in some way they were
complicit participants in the production of this illicit material.

SNAP Aotearoa National Leader Dr. Christopher Longhurst said today:

“We are calling on all media to adopt terminology, hopefully consistently, across
international lines, that makes it very clear that a heinous and abusive crime has
been committed. Children do not have the legal or moral capacity to consent as
performers in pornography, and the term “child pornography” must not be used.”
Terms such as “child sexual exploitation material,” or where there is no sexual content,
“child exploitation material” are much preferred phrases to describe this sexual abuse,
and other abuse, recorded in any form of multimedia, whether video, audio, still
photograph, or print media."

It is unacceptable to refer to child sexual abuse multimedia as a product, a pornographic
commodity and SNAP Aotearoa calls upon all news media worldwide to adopt a
standard terminology which does not add this despicable label to the already awful
impact for victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in Aotearoa New Zealand
Email: [email protected]
Phone: New Zealand +64223440496

SNAP applauds New York’s Adult Survivors Act (ASA) likely to pass in the Assembly

(For Immediate Release May 19, 2022) 

This legislation is a window of time to allow individuals who were 18 or older when they were sexually assaulted in New York State to file a lawsuit against the person who harmed them and/or the negligent institution.

We are very happy to be part of an incredible coalition led by Safe Horizon and thrilled to celebrate today’s news from New York’s State Assembly. The announcement that the Assembly plans to pass the Adult Survivors Act is a huge victory for survivors’ rights in New York. Brave survivors of sexual abuse poured out their stories, re-visited their trauma, and made time to advocate so a safer world can be lived in, their strength has won. “Safe Horizon is grateful to our coalition and community of survivors, advocates, and lawmakers – especially our bill sponsors and champions in the Legislature, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and– as well as the Speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie for making this a reality. We look forward to this momentous vote.”


Bishop must stop those backing accused abusive coach

(For Immediate Release May 19, 2022) 

Springfield Catholic officials must not stay silent while misguided staff, students and parents publicly rally around a coach who's just been suspended after being named in a child abuse report. Every time parishioners rally around an accused child molesting cleric, it is sad, tiresome, and hurtful to vulnerable kids, those wounded, and ultimately to the school, parish, and diocese itself.

Bishop Ed Rice and other school officials must denounce this well-intended but hurtful move.
To those who wonder "Why is there so much abuse in the church," here's a clue: When Catholic officials let church members and others intimidate victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers into silence as abuse reports happen, even more people with information or suspicions about child sex abuse give up, go away or stay quiet. And that of course enables and emboldens other child molesters to keep committing their heinous crimes.

It’s sad because it shows how desperately people want to believe that abuse so close to home isn’t possible and those accused could never commit such heinous crimes. And it’s sad because it shows how little many churchgoers and staffers have 'reformed' their mishandling of child sex abuse in the 30 years since the first US pedophile priest attracted national headlines.

Settlement reached in Archdiocese of Santa Fe bankruptcy

( For Immediate Release May 18, 2022) 

 The Archdiocese of Santa Fe tentatively reached a $121.5 million agreement Tuesday in a bankruptcy case involving at least 375 people who accused priests of sexual abuse. We hope that this process has brought healing to these survivors and call on church officials from Santa Fe to release information to their parishioners and the public regarding abusers and enablers identified throughout the bankruptcy process.

We are grateful to the survivors of sexual abuse from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe who stood up for their rights and for all victims. It is important to note that, while the settlement is justly deserved by those who have suffered decades in silence, in the grand scheme of things it is but a drop in the bucket given the wealth of the church. No amount of money can make up for the lifetime of trauma that results from sexual abuse. Furthermore, we know these tactics are designed to maintain an appearance of help for survivors, and yet it still comes without effective action from church officials.

If church officials in Santa Fe truly want to help survivors and create safer environments within their church, they must be transparent with their communities. They should immediately update their list of abusers to include the new names identified throughout the bankruptcy process and should then use every resource at their disposal to ensure parishioners and parents at each location where an abuser worked have been notified. Similarly, they should be turning over all information regarding sex crimes, regardless of the current status of the abuser, to local law enforcement.

We know that no institution can police itself and so we hope that police and prosecutors in New Mexico are looking long and hard to find creative pathways toward justice for survivors and to prevent more cases of abuse in the future. A critical step in preventing abuse is ensuring that those who covered up and enabled abuse are prosecuted.

 CONTACT: 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 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

More Posts

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant