The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
Another predator priest abused child in Tampa
Child sex suit against pedophile priest is resolved
But bishop kept silent about allegations & settlement
Group blasts diocese for violating pledge to be “more open”
But SNAP praises pastor for “outing” a different predator
It wants Catholic bishop to list all accused clerics on website
Victims call on church staff to “aggressively seek out” others who’ve been hurt
The victims will also
They will beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups to call police, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect others and start healing.
WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 13 at 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: Outside the Catholic diocese headquarters (“chancery office”), 6363 9th Avenue N., St. Petersburg, FL
WHO: 2-3 members of support group called SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAPnetwork.org
WHY: SNAP has obtained a copy of a two page, previously-secret $75,000 settlement agreement made in July 2010 between the Tampa-St. Pete Catholic diocese and a man who says he was repeatedly sexually abused as a child by Msgr. Norman G. Balthazar. The alleged crimes took place in 1980 to a then nine year old boy. At the time, Balthazar was working at Christ the King parish in Tampa.
In a separate incident in 1991, Balthazar was charged with soliciting a lewd act from an undercover police officer. According to one news account, “a Hillsborough County judge threw out the case, ruling the conversation about engaging in a sexual act - did not constitute a crime.” But today’s disclosure is the first time Balthazar has been accused of a child sex crime, as best SNAP can tell.
SNAP believes that Catholic officials, specifically Tampa/St. Pete Bishop Robert Lynch, violated a 2002 national church sex abuse policy that mandates “openness and transparency” in child sex cases. The group believes Lynch acted “irresponsibly” by not disclosing the initial allegation and the settlement. How many other secret settlements has Lynch made, SNAP wonders.
Last year, Balthazar retired from heading Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Pinellas. He also worked at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Inverness and St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Zephyrhills.
Two other priests who are credibly accused predators have were also assigned to Christ the King parish. One of them has never been publicly accused before until earlier this week.
1) According to news accounts and a New York grand jury, Fr. Robert D. Huneke was accused of “relentlessly” abusing at least four boys. Huneke belonged to a religious order called the Marists. He also worked in Georgia and on Long Island. Huneke is now deceased.
2) Dozens of men in the Netherlands have accused Father Jan Sanders, a Dutch Jesuit, of molesting them as boys. Sanders also worked at Christ the King. Weeks ago, Christ the King’s current pastor put an announcement in his parish bulletin about the allegations against Sanders. (SNAP believes Sanders also later worked in a child care center for abandoned and poor, vulnerable children in Santiago, Chile.)
Huneke was at Christ the King from 1979-1982 and Sanders was here in the 1980s. For a three year period, Huneke and Balthazar were both at Christ the King. Huneke died in 2002 and Sanders died in 1996.
Last summer, current Christ the King pastor Fr. David Toups ([email protected], 813.876.5841) posted an notice in his weekly parish bulletin about the allegations against Sanders. SNAP applauds him for doing this.
But SNAP worries that current and former parishioners here (and elsewhere in the Tampa St. Pete diocese) may have been hurt by these clerics. And to help protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded, SNAP wants Bishop Lynch to do what 24 other bishops have done, and post on his website the names, whereabouts and priestly status of child molesting clerics who are or have been in the area. SNAP also wants him to work hard to find and help anyone who may have been hurt by these three priests.
According to a Boston-based independent research group called BishopAccountabilty.org, there are 19 publicly accused Tampa-St. Pete diocesan child molesting clerics. The actual number of Tampa area pedophile priests is likely much higher because BishopAccountability.org lists only those clerics against whom allegations have been lodge in the public domain – in civil lawsuits, criminal prosecution, church suspensions or news accounts.
In 2002, Baltimore became the first US diocese to disclose its predators’ names. A good current example is the Philadelphia archdiocese: http://archphila.org/protection/Updates/update_main.htm. Here is a list of all the dioceses that have disclosed names: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm.
Balthazar’s child victim is remaining anonymous and is now in his 40s.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests