The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Albany Catholic officials hid earlier abuse report; 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, [email protected])
Once again, Catholic officials have been caught deceiving the public and their parishioners. Eleven years ago, the Albany diocese got a report of child sex abuse involving Fr. Gary Mercure. For eight years, they told no one and did little, while keeping an accused child molester around kids. For more than two years, they still kept quiet, even after Mercure was arrested.
Prudent people will ask “If Albany Catholic supervisors hide child sex abuse allegations against a priest, even in 2011, what else are they hiding even now?”
In most institutions, when staffers are caught lying to the public, someone gets punished. Rarely, however, does this happen in the Catholic hierarchy. So, Catholic supervisors keep right on lying about child sex abuse. Bishops ignore wrongdoing, and therefore, essentially endorse and encourage more wrong-doing. The result is that more kids are hurt, more predators walk free and more Catholics are disillusioned.
If, indeed, a Mercure victim “dropped the matter,” it might be because he was horribly betrayed and mistreated by church officials after coming forward, as so many are. (Last week’s grand jury report in Philadelphia described how victims are often “re-victimized” by Catholic staffers who claim to be helping them but are in fact helping defense lawyers for predator priests and complicit bishops.)
We desperately hope that others who saw, suspected and suffered Mercure’s crimes will come forward, get help, call police, and start healing. We hope that Albany Catholics will speak out against the recklessness and deceit by their church hierarchy.
And we hope that police and prosecutors will open an investigation into whether Albany church officials broke laws by withholding important information in a criminal case.
(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])
Diocese admits it received complaint
Letter accuses convicted priest of raping two boys, but matter was dropped
By Bob Gardinier Staff Writer - Published: 12:00 a.m., Tuesday, February 15, 2011
ALBANY -- The Albany Roman Catholic Diocese admitted Monday it received a complaint in 2000 about priest Gary Mercure's abuse of boys but dropped the matter because the accusers did not follow up on their allegation.
A letter surfaced Monday written in 2008 by the sister of two men who testified in Berskhire County court last week about being raped by Mercure more than 20 years ago when they were altar boys at Our Lady of the Annunciation Church in Queensbury.
The letter states that the mother of the two altar boys traveled to the Pastoral Center in Albany in 2000 and told an official in the diocese that Mercure abused her sons.
Diocesan officials have said they first learned of Mercure's abuse of young boys in 2008.
After a five-day trial and shocking testimony from five former altar boys, Mercure, 62, was found guilty Thursday of raping two altar boys during trips to Massachusetts in the 1980s. He will be sentenced Wednesday and faces 25 years to life in prison.
In response to questions about the contents of that letter, the diocese issued a statement saying it in fact investigated a third-party report in 2000 of possible misconduct by Mercure.
''When the diocese sought additional information, it was advised that the individual who had expressed the concern was not willing to follow through with the complaint,'' said diocese spokesman Ken Goldfarb. ''The diocese called in Mercure and questioned him. He denied the allegation.''
Goldfarb said that in 2008, an attorney sent a letter to the diocese with additional information regarding that same complaint.
''The diocese promptly advised law enforcement authorities,'' Goldfarb said. ''The diocese also conducted its own investigation and concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe Mercure had sexually abused minors and so he was permanently removed from ministry.''
Meanwhile, a victim of abuse by Mercure lashed out at the Catholic church Monday alleging the church has for years covered up the allegations and moved such priests from church to church.
Michael Flynn of Clifton Park, who testified about his abuse before a Berkshire County grand jury investigating Mercure, accused diocese officials of covering up years of abuse by Mercure that finally came out during the rape trial.
''Anyone who covers up this type of abuse is just as guilty as Mercure,'' Flynn, 46, said at a press conference on the sidewalk outside the Pastoral Center on North Main Avenue. ''The bishop is also accountable for (Mercure's) actions.
Atone is a word used often in Catholicism and that's what the bishop and the church need to do is atone for their cover-up.''
Flynn, who did not testify at the trial, said Mercure "groomed" him when he was a 15-year-old altar boy at St. Teresa of Avila Church in Albany, taking him out to movies and to McDonald's. Flynn said Mercure exposed himself in front of him.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests