Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement


For immediate release:
June 25, 2007

Mistrial declared in Va. man's claim against diocese

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home)

We are deeply saddened that James' brave efforts to expose the Vermont Catholic hierarchy's corruption has been delayed and deeply outraged that, once again, church defense lawyers bend and break the rules to protect unscrupulous church officials.

Time and time again, all across the country, the same pattern emerges: Catholic figures will do almost anything to prevent being questioned in open court about clergy sex crimes cover ups. Today's travesty proves again that church authorities care only about themselves, their reputations and their comfort, not about victims, Catholics, or the truth.

We believe what the Bible said, that 'the truth will set you free' and what Martin Luther King said, that 'no lie lives forever.' So we are confident that James' couragous struggle to shed light on decades of duplicity will prevail.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 17 years and have more than 7,000 members across the country. 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 information:
David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688), Mary Grant (626-419-2930), Mark Serrano (703-727-4940)


Mistrial declared in Va. man's claim against diocese


By LISA RATHKE / Associated Press

A mistrial was declared Monday in the case of a Virginia man who accused the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington of negligence for the alleged actions of one of its priests.

Chittenden County Superior Court Judge Ben Joseph declared the mistrial at the request of lawyers for James Turner, 46, of Virginia Beach, Va.

Turner sued Alfred Willis and the Diocese over a 1977 incident in which he said the former priest performed a sex act on him and attempted a second alleged assault. Willis settled out of court and was removed as a defendant in the case.

Joseph ended the trial because of questions asked by diocesan attorney David Cleary, who cross-examined Turner and inquired about the relationship between the victim's brother, Bernard Turner, and Willis.

Joseph said Cleary violated a pre-trial ruling dealing with limits on questions that could be asked about the nature of the relationship between Bernard Turner and Willis. The ruling came after Turner's lawyers moved for the mistrial, saying the questions put to Turner denied them a fair trial.

Turner, formerly of Derby, wept in court when Joseph announced the decision. Both sides said they were extremely disappointed.

"I think it was unfounded, unfair and precipitous," Cleary said outside court.

Jerome O'Neill, one of Turner's lawyers, said the decision benefits the diocese.

"The diocese wins again," O'Neill said. "It manages to keep a complainant from coming forward."


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests