Victims seek records from Missouri AG
Sept. 24, 2019
Dear AG Schmitt,
Your recent report on clergy sex crimes in Missouri is the worst such effort by a governmental official we’ve seen in our 30 years of involvement in this crisis. It’s a misleading whitewash that largely does the bidding of Missouri bishops.
Please consider this our formal Sunshine Act request for
-- copies of any “memo of understanding” or agreement(s) you or your predecessor signed with Catholic officials, and
-- a thorough list of who you and your staff (and your predecessor and his staff) met or spoke with during this so-called ‘investigation’ (redacting, of course victims’ names and any identifying information about them).
Why do we want such agreements? Because we’re convinced that you and your predecessor gave bishops massive concessions on the front end, eviscerating or severely limiting your probe and basically turning it into a public relations coup for the church hierarchy.
Why do we want such lists? Because we’re convinced you and your staff spent a lot of time with Catholic officials, less time with victims and likely no time at all with recognized experts in this field, neither local nor national.
Let’s put aside speculation for a minute. In your report, you essentially admit ignoring:
--top church staff who are concealing or have concealed child sex crimes,
--several church-run ‘treatment centers’ for predator priests in Missouri, and
--one-third of predator priests who belong to Catholic religious orders like the Jesuits.
It’s also clear that, in your report, you also ignored:
--thousands of pages of long-secret, often-incriminating internal church abuse and cover up records (which were obtained through civil lawsuits), and
--two veteran victims’ attorneys in Missouri who know tons about the crisis here.
A quick read of your report shows that you and your staff:
--interviewed fewer than one victim per week,
--disclosed the names of not even one child molesting cleric,
--keep hidden even the names of predator priests who’ve been criminally convicted,
--seek no legislative or law enforcement reforms to prevent abuse or cover ups, and
--apparently have not and are not pushing Catholic officials to reveal more about abuse.
You and your office held no public hearings, announced no deadlines, gave no preliminary report, issued no subpoenas, heard no sworn testimony, set up no real hotline, disclosed virtually nothing for nearly a year and - as best we can tell - consulted no experts, including about half a dozen former Missouri church insiders-turned-whistleblowers.
You and your staff didn’t ask to come to a single SNAP meeting or for names of other experts who could have been helpful. Prosecutors in St. Louis, Kansas City and Boonville have convicted predator priests but - as best we can tell - they weren't consulted either.
Law enforcement officials in neighboring states have been far more aggressive and effective than you have. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Illinois attorney general issued preliminary reports that SNAP which disclosed ‘very important and helpful information.’ The Nebraska attorney general issued 400 subpoenas to Catholic institutions for church records. (The Illinois AG revealed that the identities of some 500 accused priests in that state are still being hidden by bishops there, for instance.)
At the six month mark of a her clergy sex abuse and cover up probe, then-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan released a preliminary report. In it, she disclosed that:
-- Illinois bishops were still hiding the names of 500 accused abusers, and
--Nearly 75% of the abuse allegations reported to Catholic officials were either not investigated or were investigated but not substantiated.
Can Missouri possibly be significantly different from Illinois? Did you and your staff even consider exploring such questions?
Finally, your report also leaves many other questions unanswered, such as:
--Why did your staff look at only 163 accused clerics when at least 170 accused Missouri child molesting clerics have already been made public (according to an independent, reputable, on-line archive on the church abuse scandal called BishopAccountability.org).
--Why does the St. Louis’ archbishop admit at least 115 alleged predators in his archdiocese but publicly identifies only 63 of them.
For the safety of kids, the healing of victims, the validation of whistleblowers and the well-being of all Missourians – who deserve the truth about those who commit and conceal heinous crimes against children, we look forward to your prompt and full compliance with our Sunshine Act request.
David Clohessy 314 566 9790, [email protected]
Jim McConnell 816 590 4752, [email protected]
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests