Roster of Press Releases


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Clergy sex abuse victims blast diocese

Bishop wants victims to report to clerics

But that's "insensitive and ineffective," organization believes

SNAP: "Few who are abused by priests will trust another priest"

Group advises those who are wounded to call law enforcement first

And diocese should offer trained lay professionals, not priests, to victims, they say

Victims also question days of WV diocesan delay in disclosing recent arrest of priest

Holding signs and childhood photos at two sidewalk news conferences, clergy sex abuse victims will blast church officials for
---using two West Virginia priests as ‘contact persons’ for abuse victims to call,
---asking victims to call priests, instead of police, about the abuse, and
-- waiting days before notifying the public of the recent arrest of an accused predator priest.

They will also prod anyone who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes to step forward, get help, expose wrong-doers, protect others and start healing.

WHEN/WHERE - Thursday, July 15

11:00 am, in front of St. Paul Church, 140 Walnut Street, Weirton, WV
1:00 pm, in front of St. Joseph's Cathedral , 13th and Eoff Streets, Wheeling, WV

Two-three members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests ( including a Missouri woman who is SNAP's Midwest Associate Director

A priest who recently worked in West Virginia, Fr. Felix C. Owino, was arrested on July 8 by the Fairfax County Virginia police on charges of allegedly molesting a girl, but Catholic officials apparently did not notify the public until July 12. SNAP feels that such delays give wrong-doers and their accomplices more chances to destroy evidence, fabricate alibis, intimidate witnesses, threaten victims and even flee the country. The group wants Wheeling Bishop Michael Bransfield to explain and apologize for keeping Owino’s arrest quiet for days.

In his official public statement responding to the arrest, Bransfield suggested victims contact church staff, not law enforcement officials. And the two church staffers Bransfield listed are both clerics. SNAP says it would be more compassionate and effective if Bransfield provided victims names of lay people who are licensed mental health professionals, rather than clerics, to talk with about abuse. Few who are sexually assaulted by clerics feel comfortable reporting their experiences to other clerics, SNAP maintains.

Earlier this week, SNAP also criticized Wheeling Jesuit University for its response to the arrest.

When alleged predator priests are arrested, often others with information about the crimes stay silent. That puts an undue burden on the victim, SNAP says, and makes it more likely the accused will get off on a technicality or receive a lenient sentence or plea deal. So SNAP will urge West Virginia church officials to use their considerable resources to prod others who saw, suspected or suffered Owino’s crimes to call police immediately.

A copy of SNAP‘s letter to Bransfield, which was sent today by fax and e mail, is below. At the Wheeling event, SNAP will try to hand deliver a copy of that letter to Bransfield.

Contact: Judy Block Jones (314-974-5003) David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected])

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests