LA--Victims seek "action, not apology" from archbishop
For immediate release: Friday, April 1
This weekend, the New Orleans Catholic archbishop is holding an apology service when he should be protecting kids, exposing predators, punishing enablers and releasing abuse records. Tangible steps will do more to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded that all the words, gestures and apologies. He should focus on three particularly dangerous predator priests, one of whom has attracted nearly no attention in New Orleans.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond’s priorities are backwards. The actual safety of innocent kids trumps the purported return of wayward believers and even the perceived injuries of Catholic adults. There are 33 publicly accused New Orleans area child molesting clerics. What’s Aymond doing to help make sure they’re in treatment or supervised or being investigated, charged, prosecuted or kept away from kids today?
Bishops’ apology services often sound good initially but are, in reality, largely self-serving public relations events. They don't protect a single child, expose a single predator, punish a single concealer or deter a single cover up.
The archdiocese should take tangible steps so that the church no longer will need to give apologies. The goal should be no more victims.
Victims can heal from clergy sex crimes with or without bishops' words. Innocent kids and vulnerable adults, however, cannot protect themselves from predator priests without bishops' actions. Aymond should warn parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about two abusive priests were in New Orleans and a third who still is in New Orleans. They are
-- Fr. Mark A. Broussard, who was sentenced just weeks ago, was originally charged with 52 counts of sexual battery, is accused of hurting at least five kids including one as young as eight years old.
--Fr. Robert Poandl, who is in prison now for child sex abuse, was transferred 30 times, and spent at least two years in New Orleans.
-- Fr. Maurice Nutt, who heads a program for black Catholics at Xavier University despite resigning his post as a police commissioner in St. Louis Missouri after allegations surfaced that he had sexually harassed at least two officers.
At least two civil suits against him were settled.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press, Fr. Nutt was accused of repeatedly making “unsolicited intimate overtures to” two officers, touching one on the thigh, trying to kiss one, boasting to one “that his power on the police force could positively influence the officer's career,” inviting one to “watch pornographic movies showing sex acts involving men and boys,” becoming “increasingly aggressive" after one "refused Fr. Nutt's overt sexual advance," and threatening “to have an officer fired if he reported the sexual harassment.”
Aymond should take immediate steps to tell police, prosecutors, parishioners, parents and the public about all three clerics, their crimes and misdeeds, and where they live/work or lived/worked in New Orleans. He should use pulpit announcements, church websites, parish bulletins and personal visits to parishes where they worked begging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to come forward and get help.
Fr. Nutt could be assaulting young people today. Fr. Broussard may file an appeal and overturn his conviction on a technicality or apply for and get early release. Fr. Poandl may get out of prison and abuse again. And New Orleans victims of any or all of these priests might well be suffering in silence, shame and self-blame.
With real outreach by Aymond, Fr. Broussard may be deterred from appealing lose an appeal or be denied early parole, Fr. Poandl might be kept behind bars or be deterred from appealling, and Fr. Nutt might be prosecuted or, at a bare minimum, be kept away from vulnerable adults, sparing others decades of devastating pain.
(Aymond may claim one or all of these priests are not his direct responsibility. But who actually signs their paychecks is irrelevant. Aymond is responsible for the safety of his flock. That includes warning his flock about those who assault innocent kids or vulnerable adults and may do so again.)
Aymond will claim his event this weekend is intended to bring healing. But wounded adults can heal themselves, with or without action by bishops. Innocent kids and vulnerable adults, however, cannot protect themselves from predators without action by bishops.
Again, Aymond should put announcements in every parish bulletin at the first opportunity, begging those who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Broussard or Fr. Poandl to step forward and call police. And he should warn his flock about Fr. Nutt.
We hope that every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or sexual misconduct in the New Orleans archdiocese will find the courage to speak up. We hope they’ll call the independent professionals in law enforcement, not the biased and often self-serving bureaucrats in church offices. And we hope they’ll seek independent sources of help, by confiding in therapists, social workers or support groups like ours.
By breaking their silence, victims, witnesses and whistleblowers can find healing, protect others, expose wrongdoers and deter cover ups.
NOTE - Aymond’s event will be Sunday, April 3 at 3 p.m. at St. Joseph Church, 1802 Tulane Ave. - http://clarionherald.info/clarion/index.php/news/latest-news/155-breaking-news/5379-divine-mercy-liturgy-to-include-forgiveness-ritual#sthash.b6tBSkjo.dpuf
NOTE - Fr. Nutt belongs to a Denver-based Catholic religious order called the Redemptorists, headed by Fr. Stephen Rehrauer (303 370 0035,[email protected]). Fr. Poandl belongs to a Cincinnati-based religious order called the Glenmary Missionaries. His direct supervisor is Father Chet Artysiewicz (513 874 8900, [email protected]).
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)