Letters List


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letter

Letter to Bishop Johnston

Feb. 26

Dear Bishop Johnston:

We belong to an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests ( Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. We write to seek your help in these goals.

Long ago, for four years, Missouri's most notorious predator priest, Fr. Thomas J. O'Brien, worked in your diocese.

He has faced more than two dozen civil lawsuits accusing him of molesting kids. Most of them have been settled. He has sometimes committed these crimes in concert with other clerics. He has been forbidden to present himself as a priest. And just last week, he was sued again.

Still, O'Brien walks free.

Though there are no known criminal charges against im now, we believe he has also molested kids in Springfield and might still face prosecution, especially if you and your brother bishops in Missouri do real outreach to other victims.

Specifically, we urge you, your colleagues and your staff to
-- take "aggressive steps" to find and help others hurt by O'Brien, and
-- prod other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to find the courage to speak up and expose predators, warn parents and safeguard children.

For the sake of public safety, we hope that O'Brien goes to jail. We are urging anyone who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes to step forward, call police, protect others, and get help from independent sources. And we call on you to use your resources (parish bulletin, church websites, diocesan newspapers, pulpit announcements, news releases and personal visits) to aggressively seek out people who may have knowledge or suspicions of O'Brien's crimes.

That's the best way to keep kids safe - by convicting and imprisoning child predators.

We are also asking you to post the names of child molesting clerics on your diocesan website. We're disappointed that you haven't done this yet. As you may know, 24 of your colleagues across the country have taken this simple, inexpensive, proven step toward protecting kids. None of them have expressed regret for having done so. We urge you to do likewise.

You and your colleagues have repeatedly pledged to be "open" about clergy sexual abuse. Why not turn over a new leaf in this new year? Why not show some sensitivity to abuse victims and

We don't need to hear your claims that your diocese does this and that and the other thing about child sex abuse. (Each one of the positive steps that bishops usually cite is required by the US bishops sex abuse policy, so it's disingenuous and inappropriate for church officials to act as though these are wonderful, voluntary actions the diocese is taking.)

We need you to take a simple, inexpensive step that could help prevent one child from being molested by one current or former Springfield area priest.

We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

David Clohessy
Executive Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790

Barbara Dorris
Outreach Coordinator, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
6245 Westminster
St. Louis MO 63130
314 862 7688, 314 503 0003

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests