Survivors and Supporters Demand Investigations in Every State

For immediate release: August 22, 2018

For more information: Tim Lennon, SNAP President, [email protected], 415-312-5820

Victims & advocates urge more investigations into church

Groups wants every state attorney general to "act now"

"Exposing cover ups will prevent more cover ups," SNAP says

Even if no charges are brought, groups say kids will be safer

We find in Pennsylvania that the church hierarchy will only report child sex abuse by when forced to clergy when forced to by outside agencies like a grand jury.  We are outraged at the new information of historic and systematic sexual abuse of children

Therefore, we are urging survivors and supporters to demand every state’s attorney general follow Pennsylvania's lead and launch formal investigations into how US bishops deal with victims and predator priests.

"These probes protect kids by exposing those who commit and conceal abuse. They help victims heal and make institutions safer. And they deter similar reckless and callous behavior in the future," said Tim Lennon, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

At least ten US jurisdictions, mostly county prosecutors from New York to Ohio, have used grand juries to investigate charges against child molesting clerics and their supervisors. Most have issued scathing reports that are highly critical of the church hierarchy.

At least two states, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, empaneled similar, statewide investigations. New Hampshire law enforcement officials won a five-year commitment from the Diocese of Manchester to allow AG oversight as to how the diocese dealt with abuse.

Governmental bodies in Australia and Ireland have completed probes as well ending with detailed reports being made public.

SNAP says the findings, in nearly every case, are "almost identical," and conclude that church officials time and time again put protecting clergy ahead of protecting kids.

"Catholic officials themselves estimate that 100,000 US children have been violated by priests," said Lennon. "But only a handful of complicit church hierarchy have ever been prosecuted. That's a tragedy and that's why these devastating crimes keep happening."  (Lynn in Philly, Finn in MO, and Wilson in Australia)

"Archaic statutes of limitations and other predator-friendly laws enable church officials to ignore and hide credible abuse reports and to evade prosecution," said Melanie Sakoda, also of SNAP. "Until these laws are reformed, grand jury reports are a terrific tool for cutting through the dangerous secrecy that still shrouds child sex crimes in the church."

"Kids are safest when predators and enablers are jailed. But when that can't happen, kids are safer when predators and enablers are publicly exposed," said Lennon. "Nothing does this better than an impartial investigation by professionals in law enforcement."

SNAP is notifying the 25,000 survivors and supporters of its network and asking them to contact their attorney general and demand a grand jury in their state.

"It's time that everyone who cares about kids turn their attention to prodding secular authorities instead of church figures," Lennon stressed. "And who better to safeguard kids than each state's top law enforcement official?"

In addition to this initiative with state attorneys general, SNAP and Center for Constitutional Rights ( wrote an open letter to the Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein at the Department of Justice calling for a nationwide investigation into historic and systematic abuse of children. This letter says the “Department of Justice must step up and conduct a thorough, full-scale investigation into this system-wide network of sexual violence and cover-up.”

SNAP will also ask the survivors and supporters in their database to write letters to the DOJ.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

Contact  -  Tim Lennon (415-312-5820, [email protected]); Melanie Sakoda, (925) 708-6175   [email protected], Becky Ianni (703-801-6044, [email protected])


Showing 3 comments

  • Michael Wyatt
    followed this page 2018-09-06 22:05:51 -0500
  • TeleWorkStrategies
    commented 2018-08-22 19:00:45 -0500
    Congrats on this is great work … but it’s not enough. SNAP members need direct involvement. It’s one thing to read about a select few who are champions of this work, and completely another to enable SNAP survivors and turn them from victims into heroes. The deepest healing from this work will not be from putting the bad guys in jail, but rather will be when each of us who have been affected by this sickness to be empowered into action. This is the job of SNAP and starts with building non-structured micro-communities across the land. Here is where real trust will be built between survivors and allows us to move into action. There has to be neighborhood groups, not single city groups, coming together to discuss what is happening and how to fix it. These groups have to be supportive of the trauma each has gone through, while also encouraging personal healing through engagement – i..e helping others. This requires a network of support that allows each survivor to do their small part outwardly beyond just reading SNAP headlines about what others are doing but using those to empower us to do it ourselves. Yes, what you are doing here is good, but it’s BY FAR not enough. Empowering survivors across the nation needs to be SNAP’s new mission. The first phase of SNAP’s work is now complete, which is informing others of the nightmare that has been hidden. It is now exposed, as the work in PA and MN states are proving. This is because of SNAP! No one forget that! But now it’s time for SNAP to evolve its plan of support. It’s time to help the 1,000’s of survivors to move beyond just being informed into personal action. It is the role of groups like SNAP to make this happen. If you are you with me so far, how can all of us help SNAP leadership to transition from providing information into enabling us as survivors into personal action? … IF WE WANT TO SEE CHANGE, WE HAVE TO BE THE CHANGE. EVERY ONE OF US NEEDS TO STEP UP. Sending my best to all those of you on front lines. Vic D.
  • Timothy Lennon
    commented 2018-08-22 17:54:28 -0500
    Prominent Catholics, including Illinois State Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, are calling for attorneys general in more states to follow Pennsylvania’s lead. Ann Burke was on the original National Review Board organized by the bishops in 2004 in response to the crisis. Her words below call for civil grand juries.

    “That’s the only way I see something happening,” she told National Catholic Reporter.

    Meanwhile, officials in Pennsylvania said their investigation is not over. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said his office’s hotline and email accounts for abuse survivors have “lit up” with more than 550 calls since the grand jury report was published.

    Tim Lennon

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant