Roster of Press Releases


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Second Venice area priest arrested

He's charged with exposing himself

But bishop won’t disclose his whereabouts

Victims hand deliver letter to church headquarters

SNAP to prelate: “Visit affected parishes, urge folks to speak up”

Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy molestation victims and supporters will beg anyone with information about two priests who have been arrested this year to speak up and contact law enforcement. They will also urge the Venice Catholic bishop to
-- spread the word about the charges against the clerics in parish bulletins,
-- disclose the whereabouts of one of the priests, and
-- personally visit any place they worked and beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police.

They will then try to hand deliver a letter to the bishop about the two priests.

Tuesday, June 21, at ..1:00 p.m.

Outside the Venice Catholic Diocese headquarters (“chancery office”), 1000 Pinebrook Rd. Venice, FL

A handful of victims and supporters of childhood clergy sexual abuse who belong to a support group called SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Twice this year, local Venice area Catholic priests have been arrested for alleged sex crimes.

Two weeks ago, Fr. Bernard Chojnacki was arrested for allegedly grabbing, propositioning and exposing himself to an undercover detective on a beach near Sarasota. At the time of his arrest, Chojnacki worked at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Port Charlotte, FL. (Venice diocese Bishop Frank Dewane recently put Chojnacki on administrative leave but refuses to say where the priest is living.)

In February, Fr. William Wert was arrested for sexual abuse against a 14 year old boy. At the time of his arrest, he was living in a Carmelite religious order house in Venice. Wert is in the Sarasota County jail and faces a jury trial in October.

Since criminal charges are pending against both of these priests, SNAP wants Dewane to use his diocesan website and parish bulletins to beg anyone who might have information or suspicions about the clerics’ misdeeds to contact law enforcement so that they can both be effectively prosecuted.

Chojnacki who is 36 years old and a native of Poland, was ordained in 2009. He worked at St. Damian Westland Catholic church the Detroit Archdiocese. Before that, he studied at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan.

Wert previously worked at Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, California, 1987 and again from 1993 until 1999. He also worked in Washington DC where he was convicted in 2007 of assault and put on probation. He was accused there of inappropriately touching a 14-year-old.

Judy Jones 314 074 5003 ([email protected]), David Clohessy 314 566 9790 ([email protected]), Barbara Dorris 314 503 0003 ([email protected])

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests