Roster of Press Releases


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

For immediate release: Thursday, March 10

Clergy sex victims want church staffers fired

Grand jurors blast ‘victims assistance coordinators’

SNAP: “Given report’s conclusions, they just can’t be trusted”

Since suspected predators have been identified, more victims will be calling

They need and deserve honest and sensitive church workers, group contends

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging Philadelphia Catholic officials to fire some of the church staff who were severely criticized in a recent grand jury report on clergy sex crimes and cover ups in the archdiocese.

Leaders of a self-help organization called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests ( are writing Cardinal Justin Rigali about his “victims assistance coordinators” who were blasted in the report for “misleading victims,” “not keep(ing) victims’ statements confidential,” “hound(ing)” victims for statements to “use as ammunition to impeach victims,” and “turning over” victims’ statements “to archdiocesan attorneys.” In at least one case, according to the grand jurors, a ‘victims assistance coordinator’ “handed previously confidential” victim’s records “over to one victim’s abuser.”

“Quite simply, these employees have been proven to be untrustworthy,” said Karen Polesir, SNAP’s Philly area director, “Keeping them on board is essentially rewarding misconduct and thus essentially encouraging misconduct.”

“To help protect kids and prevent cover ups, we beg victims to call church officials only as a last resort and only after calling therapists, police, prosecutors, and groups like ours,” said David Clohessy, director of SNAP. “But inevitably, some do contact the archdiocese, and the chances they’ll be hurt and deceived again seem extremely high. We want to prevent that.”

Neither Rigali nor his lawyers or top aides have disputed the grand jury findings. But even if they do, SNAP argues, the widespread perception that ‘victims assistance coordinators’ have betrayed others means they can’t be effective in the future.

“If kids are to be safer, victims must speak up,” said Barbara Blaine, SNAP’s president. “But given the horrific wrongdoing by the so-called ‘victims assistance coordinators’ uncovered by the grand jury, few victims will or should feel safe calling church officials.”

Others on the archdiocesan payroll should also be fired, SNAP contends.

“Frankly, bigger heads must roll if there’s even a chance for real reform in the archdiocese, which we think is unlikely,” Clohessy said. “It’s wrong to make underling ‘scapegoats’ for corruption that starts at the top. And it won’t deter much deceit and recklessness if only lower-level staff is ousted. But it’s at least a start and will prevent at least some already-wounded victims from being hurt again if they do contact the archdiocese.”

A copy of SNAP’s letter to Rigali, sent today by fax and e mail, will be posted in about an hour on the SNAP website.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact: David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests