TX--Two preachers did not report suspected child abuse
For immediate release: Wednesday, Dec. 3
Statement by Amy Smith of Dallas, SNAP leader, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (281 748 4050, [email protected])
Two Odessa pastors are charged with not reporting suspected child sex crimes to police. We hope they’re convicted and given the harshest possible sentence. That’s the best way to deter church officials from covering up for child molesters.
At the same time, however, we hope Texas lawmakers will reform the state’s stunningly weak and archaic mandatory reporting law. Failing to report abuse is a misdemeanor. It should be a felony. It’s ironic and sad that a state where politicians often “talk tough” about crime lets those who endanger kids and help predators get off so lightly.
Don and Gina Haislett, the pastor and co-pastor of Life Church in Odessa, were arrested and charged Tuesday. We urge church members and officials at Life Church to set an example but voluntarily turning over all files and documents to prosecutors and using all the resources at their disposal to reach out to current and former members of the congregation, as well as employees and former employees.
Finally, we hope that every single person who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by Angel De Los Santos and cover ups by church officials will call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 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)