The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Shocking new Philly archdiocese form is released
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])
We belong to a victims’ self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). We’ve been around for 23 years. We’ve seen astonishingly reckless, callous and deceitful acts by complicit church officials. We’ve seen chancery officials shredding documents. We’ve seen church staff repeatedly lying to police, prosecutors, parishioners and the public. We’ve seen bishops hire private investigators to rummage through victims’ trash. We’ve seen, years ago, Philadelphia Catholic officials countersue a victim’s parents.
We’ve seen a lot. We are hard to shock. But we are shocked by this.
We’ve never seen a document like this. (We can’t say where we got it.) We aren’t lawyers and we don’t know when or with whom this form was or is used. But it clearly doesn’t pass the “smell test.”
We suspect this form was put in front of scared and confused victims who desperately needed therapy bills paid or in some other way needing help from the archdiocese. We suspect some victims signed this having no idea what it meant. We very strongly suspect that the intention here is to protect the archdiocese and its secrets, not to protect innocent children or help wounded victims.
Church officials must make it easier, not harder, for the police to get, and victims to share, information about known and suspected child sex crimes. That’s what they’ve promised to do. That’s clearly not what they are, in fact, doing.
It’s everyone’s duty to tell police as much as they can about possible crimes. This is especially true of powerful decision-makers like church officials and with devastating crimes like child sexual abuse.
Notice the bottom of this form. There’s no ‘signature line’ for an attorney who represents a victim. That suggests that this form was used only with victims who were dealing with archdiocesan lawyers and staff alone – without representation.
A former Philly prosecutor told one the Philadelphia Fox affiliate last night that he too had never seen anything like this. The ex-prosecutor also also said he thought the intent here was to protect the archdiocese.
This document was briefly mentioned in the recent grand jury report. Grand jurors were clearly troubled by it as well.
If Rigali or one of his highly-paid public relations staff ever deign to talk about this form, we’re sure they’ll offer some convoluted rationalization couched in alleged concern for victims and their privacy. Church officials do this often – justifying some self-serving, secrective actions as somehow being for the professed benefit of victims.
When they do, ask yourself this: if the goal here was somehow to make victims feel or be safer, why aren’t church officials signing some form and making some pledge? Why make a victim sign something?
(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 23 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])
Mystery Document Appears In Priest Probe
Updated: Friday, 11 Mar 2011, 5:23 PM EST
There are now questions about a document obtained by Fox 29 that appears to prohibit the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from releasing information on sexual abuse by its clergy to law enforcement authorities.
Strangely enough. the document is coming from the Archdiocese, and not lawyers from those making the allegations against clergy members.
Our Dave Schratwieser has been talking to legal experts about why the document would even be necessary .
Some legal experts Fox 29 spoke with seemed quite interested in this document and what the exact purpose for it might be.
The document obtained by Fox 29 appears to be a form that prohibits the ASrchdiocese from passing along information to law enforcement authorities from anyone making allegations against the clergy related to sexual abuse.
What seems to be odd about this form is it appears to come from the Archdicocese, and not from an attorney representing the alleged victims.
It bars the Archdiocese from releasing that information to investigators unless they receive a subpoena from a grand jury.
Fox 29 asked former prosecutor and noted Center City attorney Brian Mcmonagle to take a look at the document.
"I was stunned when i first saw this document, because I've never seen anything quite like it," McMonagle said.
"I assume you could make the argument that this is a way for the Archdiocese to protect itself from stale claims that are made by victims who in the beginning didn't want disclosure and later claim the Archdiocese was preventing them from making disclosure."
McMonagle also raised some interesting questions about just exactly when the archdiocese may have presented the forms to alleged victims.
He said it would be interesting to see if it was when the complaint first came in or later on.
Fox 29 called the Archdiocese looking for an explanation and other information on this form.
There has been response to that call at this point.
McMonagle noted that it's possible the document could have been used for that, but without knowing when alleged victims were presented with it, by whom, under which circumstances and what the Archdiocese's explanation for using this form, that's a difficult question to answer for sure.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests