Survivors do not believe that an investigation sponsored by the San Jose Diocese will be completely transparent
For immediate release, September 13, 2018
Statement by Melanie Sakoda, Volunteer San Francisco Bay Area Leader and Secretary of SNAP's Board of Directors, 925-708-6175, [email protected]
Today Bishop Patrick J. McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose announced that he has hired a former FBI official to review how church leaders have handled past abuse complaints. The Bishop also promised to release a list of priests "credibly accused" of abusing children.
We applaud Bishop McGrath's pledge to name abusers. The list will help survivors to heal as well protect today's children. However, in our eyes the Bishop's plan for an investigation falls short. Pennsylvania's grand jury report on six Catholic dioceses in that state established the bench mark that should be followed in all other investigations.
The Pennsylvania grand jury had the power to subpoena documents and to compel current and former Church officials and staff to answer tough questions under oath. It also invited testimony from survivors, some victims of crimes from decades ago, many that Church officials had dismissed or did not believe.
Any investigators hired by the Bishop, even former FBI agents, would still in fact be working for the diocese. In addition, Bishop McGrath would control what information the investigators will receive, and most victims will not trust the process enough to participate.
Also, a complete look at the scope of sexual abuse of minors in the San Jose Diocese would not just be limited to Diocesan priests. It would include Order clergy who worked in the Diocese, such as Father Benedict Van der Putten, who was only exposed in the Pennsylvania report, women religious, and lay employees.
What made that Pennsylvania report so valuable was that it did not solely rely on information provided by Church officials. As a result, we got much closer to a true understanding of the scope of sexual abuse in that state.
The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report exposed decades of deliberate concealment of child sex abuse by the Church and revealed the existence of previously "hidden predators," like Father Van der Putten. The report demonstrated quite convincingly that we cannot allow the Church to investigate itself. Any probe that does less than what occurred in the Keystone State is simply a sham and a whitewash hiding behind a facade of “investigation” and "transparency."
SNAP urges everyone who suffered, witnessed or suspected clergy sex crimes and cover ups to come forward. Report to law enforcement, therapists and support groups like ours, not to the Church.
We also urge all concerned citizens in California to prod Attorney General Xavier Becerra to launch an investigation just like the on-going one in Pennsylvania, and also to join us in demanding a federal investigation like those that have been implemented in other countries.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been working for thirty years to support victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings and has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)