SNAP Sends Letter to Diocese of Raleigh Requesting Updates
SNAP leadership in North Carolina has sent a letter to church officials today, demanding updates be made to their list of accused priests that will better inform the community and help survivors.
SNAP's letter, copied below, was sent to Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama at the Diocese of Raleigh. In this letter, SNAP points out inconsistencies in the list of accused clergy made public by church officials, including strange additions and removals of names as well as a lack of detail regarding assignment history for the accused. SNAP is calling for Bishop Zarama to publicly address the changes as well as add missing detail to the list that SNAP considers critical.
Read the full letter below:
May 5, 2020
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those
Abused by Priests
PO Box 56539
Saint Louis MO, 63156
Diocese of Raleigh
7200 Stonehenge Dr.
Raleigh NC, 27613
Dear Bishop Zarama:
As representatives of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, we have compiled this list of questions to help us better understand the changes that appear to have been made to your list of accused clergy last month, since these updates were made without notice or explanation.
We are asking for this information as advocates on behalf of victims and their families, and as citizens of North Carolina who have a public interest in the answers. Please note that we have used the dates when the revised lists were uploaded to BishopAccountability, although we are not sure that this coincides with the actual dates the edits are made.
Please help victims of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Raleigh and the public better understand your changes by answering our questions regarding the following clerics.
- Albert Gondek, OSFS, was added back to your list in April after he was removed in February. He had been on your list since it was first posted in 2018. No explanation was given for either of these changes, and we would like to understand your reasoning. Also, your list does not show that Fr. Gondek had more than one allegation or that those allegations came from different dioceses, including one in the Diocese of Raleigh. The only accusation noted on your list is the one from 1960 in MD. However, Fr. Gondek was also accused in 1993 in your Diocese, and again in the Diocese of Charlotte in 2015. Why were the additional allegations against Fr. Gondek not noted on any of your lists, and why is he only included under allegations of ‘abusing a minor outside the Diocese of Raleigh?
- Edward William Smith, CICM, was removed from your list in April after being added in February. He was included on the Glenmary Home Missioners list of clergy “credibly accused” of the sexual abuse of minors in October, 2019. We know that there were at least three allegations against Fr. Smith in North Carolina that were reported to have occurred in the 1960’s prior to the creation of the Diocese of Charlotte. Since the Diocese of Raleigh was the only diocese in the state prior to 1972, can you please explain why he was removed from your list?
- Harold Johnson was removed from your list in April after being added in February. According to the Diocese of Charlotte, Fr. Johnson was assigned to St. Patrick’s Church (now Cathedral) in Charlotte from 1957-1959, and he is on the Archdiocese of Boston’s list of accused clergy. It is unclear why his name was removed from allegations of ‘abusing a minor outside the Diocese of Raleigh,” since the Diocese was responsible for the entire state prior to 1972?
- Justin Pechulis was removed from your list in April after being added in February. He worked in both North Carolina dioceses, and although the “credible” allegation was from 1978 in the Diocese of Charlotte, surely his prior assignments in the Diocese of Raleigh warrant him being included as ‘abusing a minor outside the Diocese of Raleigh?’
- Harold McGovern, OSFS, was removed from your list in April after being added in February. He worked at St. Mary and Edward Parish, in Roxboro and Holy Infant Parish, in Durham, both of which are in the Diocese of Raleigh. He is also on the Diocese of Charlotte’s and the OSFS list of accused priests. Moreover, in 2011 the Oblates announced a $24.8 million settlement with survivors of priest sexual abuse. At the time they also agreed to non-monetary terms, including the release of a list of 12 priests in the order who had either admitted to sexual abuse or who had “substantiated” allegations of sexual abuse against them. Fr. McGovern was one of the 12. Why was he removed from your list of those accused of ‘abusing a minor outside the Diocese of Raleigh?
As advocates for victims of childhood sexual abuse, we hope that you will answer our questions. If there are errors or wrong assumptions in the 5 cases we have cited, please let us know. You have records and information that no one else has about these men.
We hope that you will reconsider our request from last year, and add a list of assignments, including specific dates, and photos of each priest to each name on your list. This information can help survivors and their family members tremendously.
Presumably we share a common goal in wanting to see the Diocese of Raleigh accountable and transparent, for the continued protection of children and the healing of survivors. Toward this end, please help us understand your decisions, and provide us and the public with additional information.
SNAP, Fayetteville/Ft. Bragg, NC