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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Victims want new Catholic church lawyer fired

She has “very close ties” to archdiocese, they say

And she oversees home where just-suspended cleric molested

“The more we learn about her, the more worried we become” SNAP says

Group also wants “victims’ assistance coordinators” & defense lawyers ousted

Holding signs and childhood pictures at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will publicly urge Philadelphia’s top Catholic official to
-- let go a newly-hired Catholic lawyer he brought on to deal with clergy sex cases,
-- fire the archdiocesan “victims’ assistance coordinators” and defense lawyers,
-- turn over all information about accused pedophile priests to Philadelphia’s DA, and
-- hire only non-Catholic and non-lawyers (preferably therapists) to deal with clergy sex cases.

Monday, Feb.21 at 1:00 p.m.

On the sidewalk outside Catholic archdiocese headquarters (chancery office) 222 North 17th Street (between Vine and Race Streets) in Philadelphia

Two-four clergy sex abuse victims and supporters who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (, including a Chicago woman who was molested as a child and who founded the self help organization

Last Thursday, in response to his archdiocese’s clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis, Cardinal Justin Rigali hired his second new lawyer in less than a week. She’s Gina Maisto Smith, who serves on a board overseeing a Catholic home (St. Gabriel's Home) where a just-suspended predator priest (Fr. Stephen C. Perzan) allegedly molested kids)

Smith is also a lifelong Philadelphia Catholic who graduated from a Catholic university and is on the board of Catholic Social Services (as is Joseph A. Cronin Jr., another newly-hired archdiocesan lawyer). Another website ( says she’s “on the board of directors of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”

SNAP say s that if these close ties can be found through simple Internet searches, Smith probably has other close links to top archdiocesan staff that haven’t yet been discovered or disclosed. Though early in her career, Smith was prosecutor, she now “defends corporations and individuals facing criminal investigation and prosecution.” and specializes in “assisting college, university, (and) corporate clients in managing misconduct allegations, with a focus on sexual misconduct.”

SNAP believes Rigali should be firing, not hiring, staff. The last thing he needs, the group feels, is more lawyers. If Rigali DOES bring on new employees, SNAP wants him to hire genuine “outsiders” and non-Catholics, preferably experienced therapists who specialize in treating abused kids, so that their bias will be toward preventing future crimes and cover ups, rather than in “managing and minimizing” crimes and cover ups.

The last time Rigali hired a consultant to respond to an abuse and cover up scandal (Mary Achilles), he ignored all 11 of her recommendations. (In a bizarre move, last week, he hired her again.)

If complicit church officials are fired, maybe other church staffers will start reporting, not concealing, child sex crimes. But rarely are any Catholic supervisors disciplined for ignoring or hiding child sex crimes, so many of them keep right on ignoring and hiding child sex crimes, SNAP believes.

CONTACT –Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected])

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests