Roster of Press Releases


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

For immediate release: Friday, Aug. 6, 2010

For more info: David Clohessy 314 566 9790

Sex abuse victims get to testify in court

At unprecedented hearing, they’ll speak next week

Wounded men & women will tell judge “Let us have our trials!”

No other diocese in Chapter 11 process has ever done this, SNAP believes

Self help group urges Delaware Catholic parishioners to attend & “hear directly from victims”

An unprecedented hearing will be held next week at which alleged child sex abuse victims will beg a Delaware judge to let their civil trials against Catholic officials continue despite Chapter 11 proceedings.

On Thursday, August 12, US Bankruptcy Court Judge Christopher S. Sontchi will hear from about ten men and women who are suing the Wilmington diocese charging that its top staff ignored or concealed child sex crimes by clergy.

Leaders of a support group for clergy sex abuse victims applauded the move to let victims testify in open court.

"These brave victims want to expose wrong-doers – both men who committed and men who hid terrible crimes - in the time-tested US justice system. They should be given this chance," said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis. She’s the national outreach director for a self help organization called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“It’s important that this judge understand that clergy sex victims want to protect other kids at risk now, and that a key way to do this is to have a trial at which predatory priest and complicit officials are publicly exposed,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s director.

In six other Catholic diocesan bankruptcy processes across the US, Clohessy says there’s never been a hearing like this.

Church officials recently asked for an extension of the automatic stay in state court abuse trials. The victims have just filed a motion to oppose that.

“The bishop’s strategy is two-fold. First, he wants to keep delaying every chance he gets. And second, he wants to keep his cover ups covered up. Preventing full scale crimes in open court is his best hope,” said Clohessy. “But victims, Catholics, parents, and citizens in Delaware need and deserve the truth and some resolution.”

The victims who will testify are represented by Delaware attorney Thomas S. Neuberger (302 655 0592). He and his firm have handled more than 90 such cases.

The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. in the Bankruptcy Court, 824 North Market Street in Wilmington. The Diocese of Wilmington intends to have Vicar General Msgr. J. Thomas Cini speak at the same hearing.

“It’s open to the public and we hope Delaware Catholics will come and see for themselves how desperately these courageous victims want to disclose the truth, safeguard others and deter future recklessness, callousness and deceit,” said Dorris.

On October 2009, on the eve of the first of eight trials involving Wilmington predatory priests, the diocese sought bankruptcy protection, effectively stopping the case against noted serial pedophile Father Francis DeLuca. The victim in that case is John Vai, who is now on the “creditors committee” in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Please bring photo ID. Cell phones should be turned off in the building.

For directions, please visit There is parking available at nearby parking garages and surface lots. Metered parking is available in front of the courthouse. If you have questions regarding directions or access, please call the courthouse help desk at 302-252-2900.

See also case docket 620 at

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests