Letters List


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letters


Letter to
New York Governor Pataki

November 17, 2003

Hon. George E. Pataki
Governor, State of New York
Executive Chamber
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224-0341

Dear Governor Pataki:

We are asking you to use your statutory and executive authority to prevent Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, and his office, from prosecuting clergy abuse cases. Instead, we ask you to appoint the State Attorney General's office as an independent prosecutor.

After serious consideration, we, the Survivors Network of those Abused By Priests (SNAP), believe that this is the only way clergy abuse victims will feel safe enough to report the crimes and will receive justice and healing in Nassau County. Mr. Dillon's public comments regarding the clergy abuse crisis show that he is unable to prosecute these cases in a fair and impartial matter, and only frighten and intimidate victims who have yet to come forward.

Recently Mr. Dillon publicly attacked Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, claiming that Spota "illegally" released a ground-breaking grand jury report on the serious abuses and cover-up in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Mr. Dillon is quoted as saying "There is no real practical reason for the district attorney to issue that salacious report." We are shocked and saddened that a District Attorney would believe any report which sheds light on this tragedy, and calls for serious reforms to New York's antiquated sexual abuse laws, is "salacious."

Such comments are extremely insensitive and provide us little faith that Mr. Dillon will aggressively use his office to prosecute sexually abusive clergy. It is extremely difficult for victims of sex crimes to report. It is even more difficult when those victims have already been victimized twice: once by a trusted religious figure, then by insens-itive church officials. Therefore, it is crucial that law enforcement officials create a safe, welcoming, impartial atmosphere. Mr. Dillon has done just the reverse. His conduct makes it less likely that clergy child molesters will be reported, caught and prosecuted.

In April of 2002 Mr. Dillon, in his capacity as Nassau County District Attorney, wrote to New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno opposing proposed compre-hensive clergy abuse reporting legislation. In that letter he classified the clergy abuse scandal as a "media frenzy." He indicated that there are only a small percentage of priests who sexually abuse children. He stated that "pedophilia" is a mischaracterization and that "the overwhelming majority of allega-tions have actually involved abuse by male priests of male adolescents." This statement is shocking, but coming from an elected District Attorney, it is tragic. This comment is offensive to the hundreds of survivors who were sexually abused by clergy in their teen years. Again, it only serves to deter victims who might otherwise be considering reporting the crimes perpetrated against them.

We respect Mr. Dillon's deep Catholic faith and beliefs. We believe that there are a countless numbers of Catholics across the United States who can fairly and impartially separate the clergy sexual abuse crisis from their own Catholic faith. Unfortunately, based on Mr. Dillon's actions, we believe that he cannot. We have a serious concern that clergy sexual abuse cases may not be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law due to his conviction that it is not a serious problem and that such cases are merely an "attack" on the Catholic Church.

Governor Pataki, clergy who commit criminal sexual acts with minors should not be let off lightly because they committed their crimes in Nassau County or, that they occurred in New York for that matter. You can insure, by means of an independent prosecutor, that these cases will be treated in a fair and impartial matter and the meritour-ious cases will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Such a prosecutor can also insure that wounded, often fragile clergy abuse victims receive sensitive professional treatment should they disclose these crimes to Nassau County law enforcement.

We urge you to do the right thing and remove the Nassau County District Attorney's office from these cases. Only by means of an independent prosecutor in Nassau County will survivors feel that they will receive fair and balanced treatment regarding their criminal cases against sexually abusive clergy.


David Cerulli
SNAP New York
National Board Member
917 757 1791


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests