The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, August 5, 2011
SNAP applauds hearing for retired Cardinal
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
This is a huge, positive step forward for kids. It is every victim’s dream and every enabler’s nightmare – that a callous and corrupt official who could and should have prevented heinous crimes might face tough questions under oath about his complicity.
We hope this sends a shudder of fear down the spines of high ranking Catholic figures everywhere, many of whom have assumed for decades that smart lawyers, feigned illnesses, deferential prosecutors and archaic laws would spare them from having to ever be held responsible for their wrongdoing.
Bevilacqua should be jailed but likely never will be. But the fact that his competency will be weighed in court and that he may appear as a witness is very encouraging.
Those who protect predators and endanger kids, listen up: You will eventually face justice. As Martin Luther King said, “No lie can live forever.”
(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])
Posted on Fri, Aug. 5, 2011
Court orders competency hearing for Bevilacqua
By David O’Reilly Inquirer Staff Writer
A judge has set March 26 as the trial date for the first member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the nation to be charged in a clerical sex abuse scandal and four codefendants.
Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina also set Sept. 12 for a competency hearing for Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, under whose watch the alleged abuse occurred.
Sarmina ordered jury selection to begin on Feb. 21 and Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington said the trial could last four months with the prosecution calling as many as 75 witnesses.
In an extraordinary move, prosecutors have asked the court to order Bevilacqua to testify on videotape about clergy sex-abuse cases, even though his lawyers say he suffers from cancer and dementia and is too infirm to be questioned.
The District Attorney's Office made the request as part of its criminal case against Msgr. William J. Lynn, who faces child endangerment and conspiracy charges over allegedly enabling abusive priests while he was Bevilacqua's secretary for clergy.
Lynn, 60, is the first member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the nation to be charged with such a crime. He has pleaded not guilty.
His codefendants - two priests, a former priest and a Catholic schoolteacher - have been charged with the sexual abuse of minor boys.
Prosecutors' attempt to compel Bevilacqua's testimony follows their dramatic decision late last month to publicly file 1,200 pages of testimony the cardinal gave in 2003 and 2004 to the first Philadelphia grand jury investigating sexual abuse in the five-county archdiocese.
Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen said in court documents that the cardinal's grand-jury testimony and that of two bishops, priests, and others were necessary to establish the conspiracy case against Lynn and three codefendants.
If Bevilacqua is found to be competent and can be deposed, the testimony will become admissible at trial.
Also to be tried are the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, the Rev. Edward Avery, and former parish schoolteacher Bernard Shero, who are charged with sodomizing or raping an altar boy at St. Jerome's parish in Northeast Philadelphia in 1998 and 1999, when he was 10 and 11 years old.
Also to be tried is a former priest, James Brennan, who is charged with raping a 14-year-old boy at Brennan's residence in 1996. All have pleaded not guilty.
It is in this case that prosecutors seek to compel further testimony from Bevilacqua.
When the cardinal appeared before the first grand jury, he was questioned at length about decisions to assign known abusers to ministry where they had access to children. He defended his actions and said he had always put the safety of children first.
Nonetheless, the grand jury concluded that in shielding abusive priests, Lynn "was carrying out the cardinal's policies exactly as the cardinal directed."
Prosecutors say this makes Bevilacqua a "material witness" in their case against Lynn and underscores the need to videotape his testimony in case he is unavailable at trial.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests