Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse Step Forward in Tucson
Victim of Fr. Charles Knapp joins a lawsuit and tells her story of cover-up by church officials in Tucson
Accused priest moved from parish to parish, Tucson, Phoenix, Eloy, Safford, Yuma, and Nogales and remained in ministry despite the “zero tolerance” pledge of USA bishops
Survivors point to the church officials failure to protect the vulnerable and hold accountable those who abuse
Survivors of clergy sex abuse stand with the victim and call for explanations and change from the Diocese of Tucson
WHAT: Holding signs at a sidewalk press conference, clergy abuse survivors and their supporters will:
- Stand in support and solidarity with the victims of Fr. Charles Knapp
- Bring attention to the inaction by church officials in Southern Arizona and California
- Demand that steps be taken to support those harmed and prevent further abuse
WHO: A victim of Fr. Charles Knapp alongside several members of a support and advocacy group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), including the leader of Phoenix SNAP support group and the SNAP Board President who is the co-leader of the Tucson SNAP support group.
WHEN: Monday, March 29, 2021, 11 am
WHERE: Outside the Tucson Diocese Offices, 192 S Stone Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701
Survivors and supporters gather to show support for clergy abuse victims. They are joining a RICO lawsuit that alleges childhood sexual abuse and cover-up by the Diocese of Tucson, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and St. John’s seminary. Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and other clergy abuse survivors in Southern Arizona stand in support of the courageous victims, Diana Almader-Douglas, Lauro Garcia, and George Brogdon.
Diana Almader-Douglas: “As a survivor, it’s important for me to do my part to end clergy abuse, bring attention to the Dioceses’ failure at handling clergy abuse, and to encourage other victims to come forward. The trauma of clergy abuse causes lifelong physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage.”
Advocates from SNAP want to be sure that other wrongdoers associated with Fr. Knapp are not able to put other children in harm’s way. It is important to remember that Fr. Knapp remains a priest in the Diocese of Tucson, despite the fact that church officials have acknowledged his abuse. This flies in the face of the “zero-tolerance” policy adopted by USA bishops in 2002 and presents an ongoing danger to Southern Arizona children.
“We stand in support of this brave survivor as she files this lawsuit that will bring about more accountability and help prevent future cases of abuse,” said SNAP President Tim Lennon. “It is critical that parishioners and the public are better informed about the true extent of clergy abuse in Southern Arizona, and we remain concerned about enablers within the Diocese of Tucson. Without accountability, there remains a continued threat to children and vulnerable adults.”
SNAP calls on church officials in Tucson to publicly explain their mishandling of the Fr. Knapp case. Two key questions still need to be answered: why did Tucson’s Bishop, Edward Weisenburger, allow this accused priest to continue in his ministry even after knowing the accusations? Similarly, why didn’t the bishop report these crimes of sexual violence to the police?
Diana is a named plaintiff in the RICO lawsuit filed by Ashley Pileika of Forester Haynie, pending in the District of Arizona. Ms. Pileika says the plaintiffs are pursuing racketeering claims against the Diocese of Tucson due to an ongoing effort to hinder criminal investigations and prosecutions involving the sexual abuse of minors. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles and St. John’s Seminary have also been named as defendants because they have produced and funneled a disproportionate number of sexual predators to Tucson, a known “dumping ground for abusive priests.” According to a Los Angeles Times investigation, a third of priests that graduated from St. John’s 1966 and 1972 seminary classes were later accused of molestation.
The case is Brogdon et al v. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles et al. 4:20-cv-00566. Plaintiffs are represented by Ashley Pileika of Forester Haynie ([email protected])
“Church officials should be doing everything within their power to ensure another case like Fr. Knapp is not allowed to happen to another child,” said Phoenix SNAP leader Mary O’Day. “Currently, we feel that the opposite is happening and that children and the vulnerable are at risk.”
We ask other victims to step forward and contact SNAP or the attorneys representing other victims. The accused priest has moved town to town all around Southern Arizona, Tucson, Phoenix, Eloy, Safford, Yuma, and Nogales.
SNAP, the Survivors Network has provided support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 30,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)