SNAP stands in a ‘Call for Action’ in the recent removal of T.O.R. priest Benedict Jurchak
(For Immediate Release May 12, 2022)
Since our initial statement on the removal of Fr. Benedict Jurchak, SNAP has received a message from Dakota Bateman, who shared her story with The Pillar. She wishes to do more to have Fr. Jurchak removed permanently from ministry and has provided this message to us. We truly believe that without Dakota, this abuse would not have become publicly known. We stand in solidarity with her and with all other victims.
-In 2018 I was sexually assaulted by my spiritual director Fr. Benedict Jurchak. He used his knowledge of my previous sexual abuse, copying how I had been previously assaulted, to make me freeze and unable to fight. In 2018 I told the TOR provincial what happened, and they waited over a year to investigate my allegations and did not hire a canon lawyer to investigate until they were told to do so by the diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. In spite of my accusations being found credible, the TORs have chosen to keep Fr. Benedict Jurchak in ministry, possibly creating more victims. Fr. Benedict Jurchak needs to be removed from all ministries and the TORs need to start taking sexual assault seriously and stop putting their image above the safety of others. Dakota Bateman-
This case is a perfect example of how quickly some dioceses will act when survivors go public after being ignored by Catholic officials. Cardinal Gregory Wilton of the Archdiocese of Washington DC did the correct thing and withdrew Fr. Jurchak's facilities to work in the Cardinal's territory. It is long past time for the Franciscans T.O.R. to do the next right thing and remove this cleric permanently from ministry. At the very least, the Franciscans should provide information about where Fr. Jurchak is currently living and working.
We hope that any other victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers will be prodded by the publicity surrounding this concerning situation to come forward so that the truth can be determined, people can be protected, and victims can heal. We encourage anyone with information regarding abuse by those in positions of authority to contact law enforcement directly. You can also report suspected abuse to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office by calling their clergy abuse hotline at 888-538-8541
CONTACT: Becky Ianni, Virginia SNAP Leader, ([email protected], 703-801-6044) Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)