Statement by David Clohessy, SNAP volunteer Missouri director (8/24/20)
First, a reminder: everyone who reports sexual violence deserves privacy. This man who is suing today is in prison for theft. He’s clearly done wrong. Still, every alleged victim of child sexual abuse deserves privacy and protection, even or maybe especially one who’s locked up.
He’s filing as John Doe. Catholic officials know who he is. We beg them to not divulge his identity. If others can figure out his identity, we beg them to not divulge it either. That will scare others in pain into staying silent. That will allow other abusers to keep abusing.
Years ago, I was ‘outed’ against my will, by a Catholic official. One of Fr. Anderson’s accuser’s was ‘outed’ against his will by a Catholic official. Believe me, that’s an incredibly awful experience. And that re-victimization keeps many deeply wounded victims paralyzed in pain. No good comes from it.
Again, this victim – at least the fourth man to report childhood sexual abuse by Fr. Alex Anderson - is in prison. Why should anyone believe him?
First, fewer than 2% of abuse allegations against the Catholic clergy appear to be false.
(Go to BishopAccountability.org. Click on ‘Data on the Crisis’ on upper left side of home page.)
Second, there are 105 publicly accused St. Louis predator priests. Fr. Alex Anderson is the only one of them who has sued an accuser. Common sense suggests that if you wanted to file a false accusation, you’d target one of those 104 who have NOT sued an accuser.
Third, there are pages and pages of further documentation in this case that will hopefully be made public in the weeks and months ahead.
Fourth, the accuser has a very experienced and successful attorney who’s dealt with hundreds of abuse victims over 30 years in this field. She took one of only two Missouri predator priest cases to a jury. In 1999, she won a 1.2 million dollar verdict. (The case involved St. Louis priest Fr. James Gummersbach.)
Fourth, the attorney knows at least one other Fr. Anderson accuser who has not taken action yet.
Fifth, as a boy, this victim, at his mom’s urging, wrote a heartbreaking letter, telling the archbishop that Fr. Anderson did “sex stuff” that was “hurtful” to him and to another boy.
Sixth, I’ve personally spoken with two of Fr. Anderson’s victims and find them very credible.
We could go on and on. But here’s the bottom line: It’s just smart and safe to err on the side of caution and take the simple, long overdue step of keeping kids away from Fr. Anderson. That can best be done by Archbishop Rozanski suspending Fr. Anderson today.
We applaud this courageous victim. Every person with information or suspicions about child sex crimes – whether victim, witness or whistleblower – has two duties: moral and civic. So please – if you know of or suspect child sex crimes or cover ups, by anyone but especially religious figures, please speak up now.