Letters List


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letters

Letter to Bishop Malone of Portland, ME


For immediate release:
Thursday, August 18, 2005

For more information:
Ann Hagan Webb, Ed.D., New England Co-coordinator, SNAP, 781-239-1182,
617-513-8442 (cell)
David Clohessy, Executive Director, SNAP, 314-566-9790 (cell)

Victims' Group Calls for suspension and investigation of two high ranking diocesan priests in Maine

Bishop has obligation to tell the truth to the public about cover up of allegations of sexual abuse

What did you know and when did you know it?

August 18, 2005

Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Diocese of Portland
Portland, Maine

Dear Bishop Malone,

We are clergy molestation victims who belong to SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. We appeal to you today to go beyond the bare minimum steps of resolving civil litigation in the Fortin case. We urge you to be a true pastor and take real steps toward healing and prevention.

Across the country, as civil settlements are being reached with men and women who were repeatedly, severely and needlessly hurt by abusive clergy, we've seen many bishops act as if financial remuneration is all they need to do. To us, such settlements are just the beginning.

No amount of money can magically restore the shattered trust, the stolen childhoods, and the devastated lives that so many of us have led and still lead. No amount of money can suddenly warn families about dangerous predators or get them locked up.

Civil settlements are business decisions. Church officials who authorize such settlements are often those who desperately want to avoid depositions, discovery, and sworn testimony. They fear the consequences if the public and parishioners learn how much bishops knew and how little they did to protect children from abusive clergy. Settlements are but one step forward a long and painful road to recovery for deeply wounded victims.

You have a duty to do much more. In the wake of the financial settlement with Michael Fortin, there are broader steps you must now take to ensure that all parties who failed to protect children are held responsible and accountable for their past actions. It would be irresponsible for you to simply "put this behind you" without a full inquiry and formal review of all the facts.

Michael Fortin showed great courage by coming forward to report his abuse by Rev. Raymond Melville. He put aside his own desire for privacy to help protect other children.
Now it's time for you to show the same kind of courage.

We want you to immediately suspend Msgr. Joseph Ford and Msgr. Michael Henchal, pending an investigation into what they knew and when they knew it, regarding allegations of sexual abuse against Rev. Raymond Melville.

Msgr. Henchal is Vicar General for the Diocese of Portland. If an investigation proves that Henchal aided in the cover up of allegations of abuse against Melville, then he should not be permitted to serve in this or any other leadership position in the Church.

In 1990, a Baltimore man wrote a letter to Bishop Joseph Gerry in which he described his abuse by Melville. Bishop Gerry and his staff already knew of two other "serious concerns" about Melville. Court documents reveal that Gerry, former Auxiliary Bishop Amadee Proulx, Henchal and Ford all conspired to cover up the allegations against Melville.

We want you do what you would have been forced to do had the Fortin case proceeded to trail. We want you to make public all files and documents pertaining to this case. We want Gerry, Henchal and Ford to tell the truth about their roles in the cover up of allegations of abuse against Melville.

We want you to make public all past correspondence between Bishop Gerry, you, diocesan lawyers and Michael Fortin. We want the public to witness first hand the legal maneuvers and hardball legal tactics that were employed against Mr. Fortin.

We want you to tell us how many people have reported that they were abused by Melville.

We want you to tell us if Melville is still receiving a salary and other benefits from the diocese.

We want you to tell us where Rev. Melville is living so that parents can be warned and children can be protected.


Ann Hagan Webb, Ed.D., New England Co-coordinator, SNAP
David Clohessy, Executive Director, SNAP

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests