The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Archbishop Nienstedt pushing for $64,000 in legal costs from alleged abuse victim; SNAP responds
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
Hundreds of men and women who were molested by priests and betrayed by bishops have done exactly what this brave man is doing – using America’s time-tested justice system to warn parents and the public about a child predator and expose his complicit colleagues. Never before, however, has a Minnesota Catholic bishop tried to make a victim pay for court costs in such a case.
So why is Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt taking this unprecedented step of trying to force an alleged child sex abuse victim to pay $64,000 for archdiocesan legal costs? We believe Nienstedt wants to punish this victim for trying to get names of other predator priests exposed. And Nienstedt wants to scare other victims into staying silent.
The victim won the first round in court. Last month, Nienstedt won the second round, by getting a judge to toss the case out on the statute of limitations. On Monday, Nienstedt formally asked the same judge to make the alleged victim give the money to the church for its legal costs.
Taking this mean-spirited and intimidating step now is Nienstedt’s way of trying to force the victim to give up his appeal. We believe Nienstedt knows that stunning evidence of recklessness, callousness and deceit will surface if this case goes forward.
This is not really about the actions of Fr. Thomas Adamson. He’s long been a predator. He’s been sued several times before. His victims have gotten settlements. He’s been suspended from active ministry. As awful as his crimes are, sadly, in this church, they’re basically routine.
This is really about the actions of Archbishop Nienstedt, who claims to care about his flock but is choosing secrecy over openness, and causing more harm to the already wounded instead of ameliorating the harm that we are already suffering.
This summer, Pope Benedict pledged to “do everything possible” to stop future clergy sex crimes.
That’s what this brave victim is doing – trying to prevent future clergy sex crimes by Adamson and other pedophile priests.
And the Pope told a group of bishops “It is important to establish the truth of what happened” in the church’s abuse and cover up crisis.
That’s what this brave victim is doing – trying to establish, in court, the truth about which current and former archdiocesan staff saw, suspected and knew about Adamson’s crimes but hid them.
Nienstedt evidently cares little about stopping future clergy sex crimes. Why else would he be using his lawyers to hide the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests?
Nienstedt evidently cares little about establishing “the truth of what happened.” Why else would he be trying to stop this case from moving ahead in the courts?
Given the Pope’s positive comments about abuse, there are really only two possibilities. Either bishops like Nienstedt know that the Pope is merely posturing, and really wants bishops to ignore and conceal child sex crimes like they’ve done for decades. Or Nienstedt disagrees with the Pope. We hope Nienstedt will
So why is Nienstedt attacking this brave victim in this way? The logical explanation – he’s trying to punish this brave victim for trying to discover and disclose the identities of other local predator priests. Or Nienstedt is trying to intimidate other victims from coming forward. Or he is trying to do both.
We in SNAP believe it’s immoral for a bishop to exploit legal technicalities and hide behind an arbitrary, archaic and predator-friendly statute of limitations. A profit-making secular businessman might do this. But it’s just wrong for a professed spiritual figure to do so.
If Nienstedt believes Adamson did not, in fact, sexually assault this boy, then Nienstedt should fight on the merits, not on the technicalities. He should give this alleged victim his day in court.
Let’s be clear: Nienstedt isn’t breaking any laws. He’s perfectly within his legal rights to try and force this victim to pay $64,000. But by doing this, he’s revealing who he really is – a cold-hearted CEO masquerading as a caring shepherd.
Maybe, just maybe, if an obvious liar maliciously brings a patently false lawsuit against a clearly innocent cleric, Nienstedt might have a leg to stand on using such vicious tactics. This, however, is anything but such a lawsuit.
No one claims this victim is not credible. Virtually no one claims Adamson is innocent. Few claim that church officials never had any inkling of Adamson’s crimes. In fact, in this very case, one judge found such compelling evidence of church cover up that she sided with the alleged victim, giving him the chance to seek punitive damages against the archdiocese. So by any standard, this is a solid case against a proven predator.
It is anything but some frivolous lawsuit. It’s an admirable effort by a brave but deeply wounded man to expose predators, protect kids, warn parents, deter wrongdoing, help victims and achieve healing and closure. And it’s apparently provoking an unprecedented, un-Christian, mean-spirited response from alleged spiritual figure.
We believe Nienstedt will fail in this awful move. And we hope that his callousness and recklessness will prod others with information about clergy sex crimes and cover ups – by Adamson or any cleric – to speak up, get help, safeguard children and start recovering.
(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 10,000 members. 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)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Bob Schwiderski (952-471-3422, [email protected], http://mnsnap.wordpress.com, http://www.youtube.com/mnsnap)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests