Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sex abuse victims respond to self-reported numbers from US bishops

Statement by David Clohessy, Executive Director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790)

We must keep in mind two facts. First, these numbers come from most of the same bishops who concealed and enabled clergy child sex crimes for decades. They are inherently suspect, to say the least.

Second, very few child victims are able to disclose the crimes as they happen, so there always has been and will be decades between the actual offense and the reporting of it.

Given these facts, there are two options. We can either be reckless, assuming that clergy sex crimes are somehow magically being reduced, or we can be prudent, assuming that clergy sex crimes are essentially happening at the same rate, or a higher rate, than before.

Caution, not complacency, is the responsible choice.

Some specific responses:

--We’re saddened, but not surprised that church officials still spend twice as much on predators as victims ($11 million vs. $6.5 million) and more than four times as much on their lawyers as on victims ($28 million vs. $6.5 million).

--We frankly don’t believe that only 34% of the settlements are covered by insurance.

--The cases involving foreign-born priests molesting in the US are further proof that bishops continue to move predator priests elsewhere.

--We expect that, in the future, we’ll see far more abuse by priests from overseas who have been sent to America.

More broadly, can anyone really think that the Catholic hierarchy’s deeply-rooted, centuries-old patterns of self-serving secrecy and deceit have suddenly been reversed, and that heinous crimes once routinely hidden are now routinely revealed (especially when there’s no independent oversight, no real “fact-checking,” and no penalty whatsoever for not reporting or reporting inaccurately)? That defies common sense.

Can anyone really believe that bishops who concealed clergy child sex crimes for decades have done a complete reversal and are now totally forthcoming about them? That’s a tempting but baseless assumption.

Even so, American bishops admit that more than once a day last year, they got reports of clergy sex crimes. There are, of course, thousands of other men, women and children who can’t or don’t disclose their pain to the very institution that is causing or caused their pain.

Finally, what good are policies if there are no consequences for violating those policies? Each year, three to five bishops are found “non-compliant” yet nothing happens to them. This year, it’s Fresno CA, Baker OR and Lincoln NE. Each has failed to take a simple, proven, common sense prevention step – teaching kids about “safe touch,” perhaps the single most effective part of the allegedly binding US bishops’ 2002 sex abuse policy.

In Ireland, a bishop threatened to seek removal of his colleagues who hid clergy sex crimes if they didn’t voluntarily resign. In the US, we've seen no bishop show any courage and speak up against any of his colleagues who violate the church's vague, weak abuse policy.

(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 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

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests