The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Vatican removes Washington priest from active ministry; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home,314 503 0003 cell)
We’re grateful that Fr. Dennis Kemp will allegedly never work again as a priest. We hope this move will prompt others who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes to come forward, call police, get help, protect others and start healing.
Kids are safest when child molesters are jailed. So children will still be vulnerable until Kemp is locked up. That will only happen if others with knowledge of his crimes find the courage to step up and take action.
Seattle's archbishop can help make this happen. He’s got considerable resources – dozens of parish bulletins, diocesan employees and church volunteers – that could be used to reach out to others in pain. And he should personally visit every parish where this predator worked, gently but firmly urging victims and witnesses to call law enforcement.
Let’s hope Archbishop Brunett won’t passively sit back and do little or nothing. Let’s hope he gets out of his office, ignores his defense lawyers, and begs his flock, in person, to seek out and offer help to anyone who may have been assaulted by Kemp.
(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 22 years and have more than 9,000 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:SNAPnetwork.org)
Vatican removes local priest from active ministry; allegations involved minor
By Janet I. Tu
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Vatican has permanently barred from active ministry the Rev. Dennis Kemp, former pastor of St. Monica Roman Catholic Church on Mercer Island.
Kemp was placed on administrative leave in 2007 after allegations of inappropriate conduct with a minor.
After the archdiocese received the allegation, it notified the Mercer Island Police Department, which investigated and turned the case over to the King County Prosecutor's office. The prosecutor decided no criminal charges could be filed because of insufficient evidence.
In a letter to St. Monica parshioners, Seattle Archbishop Alex Brunett said that while the prosecutor's office "did not feel the situation was prosecutable from a criminal perspective, they did express strong concerns about the seriously inappropriate behaviors of Father Kemp toward the minors involved."
Kemp's case was reviewed by the archdiocese's review board, which unanimously recommended that he be barred from active ministry. The Vatican concurred.
Kemp appealed that decision, Brunett's letter said, but a Vatican body upheld it.
Kemp, 63, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Being permanently barred from ministry is a step short of defrocking, and means Kemp cannot call himself "father," wear priestly garb or present himself as a priest.
Brunett's letter did not specify what the inappropriate conduct involved but a spokeswoman with the Mercer Island Police Department said earlier that it involved physical contact with a 12-year-old boy at the church that did not constitute a criminal violation, but could be characterized as inappropriate.
Kemp had served as pastor at St. Monica from 2002 to 2007. He also has served at St. Mark Church in Shoreline and at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Bremerton, and as a campus minister and teacher at Kennedy High School in Burien.
Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or [email protected]
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Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests