This just in from silentlambs.org:
From: "silentlambs" [email protected]
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 01:05:05 -0600
To: [email protected]
Subject: FW: URGENT-FORWARD FAR, WIDE & FAST PLS
Our brothers and sisters in the Bay Area need our help. Some high ranking police offiicals, along with nearly 100 officers, publicly stood with an accused priest on Wednesday (see article below). As a result, it may well be harder than ever for victims of sex crimes to feel safe and comfortable reporting their victimization to the police.
Please consider calling/e mailing the SF Police Chief Sanders & expressing your conern/outrage. (Calling actually has more impact!!) As you can see from the letter below, we're asking for a public apology and several other steps to make sure this doesn't happen again.
Phone numbers, all 415 area code: 553-1551, 553-1561, 553-9228 ,553-1511
Sanders' email is: mailto: [email protected]
It doesn't matter who you reach or who you talk with. We want to reach a number of people at police headquarters and get them all talking.
PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS far and wide NOT JUST to survivors, but to anyone else who might care and make a call - women's groups, therapists, anti-crime groups, whoever.
Thanks very much.
David Clohessy, SNAP
Apology sought for backing priest
S.F. police enrage victims' group
Jaxon Van Derbeken
San Fraqncisco Chronicle Staff Writer
mailto: [email protected]
Saturday, February 1, 2003
San Francisco -- A group representing people molested by Roman Catholic priests is demanding the San Francisco police chief apologize for his officers' public support of a department chaplain accused of molesting a boy 40 years ago.
"Your job is to prevent crime and catch criminals," leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) wrote to Chief Earl Sanders in a letter dated Friday, two days after a deputy chief and dozens of officers appeared at a bail hearing for Monsignor John Heaney.
"You can only do this if crime victims feel safe cooperating with you," the SNAP leaders said. "That won't happen if crime victims see your employees rallying behind accused child molesters."
Besides an apology, the group called for sensitivity training of officers and discipline of any officer who appeared at Heaney's arraignment Wednesday while on duty.
Sanders declined to comment through a department spokesman.
Heaney, senior chaplain to the Police Department for more than three decades, has pleaded not guilty to eight felony counts accusing him of molesting a boy for more than two years, starting when the child was 7 years old in September 1961.
The molestations stopped around the time the boy turned 10, prosecutors said, adding that the man's two brothers are corroborating witnesses.
The alleged victim is now 49 years old. Neither he nor his brothers were identified in court filings.
Among those standing by the 75-year-old Heaney was Deputy Chief Greg Suhr, who was in court Wednesday for the hearing at which Heaney's bail was cut to $150,000 from $800,000. Others who have offered their support to the defense are Assistant Chief Alex Fagan Sr. and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
SNAP said Suhr's presence in court was "particularly upsetting. . . . An individual in his role with his title and authority should certainly have known better and shown better judgment."
Suhr stood by his decision to attend the hearing.
"Here is a 75-year-old man who has suffered a stroke and done as much good as he has done," Suhr said. "I don't think that it serves anybody to go past 'innocent until proven guilty' here.
"He has always, always shown up for the Police Department, no matter the hour of the night," Suhr said. "To that end, we need to wait and see what the judicial system determines."
At Wednesday's hearing in San Francisco Superior Court, Heaney's attorney, Jim Collins, pointed to the crowd of about 100 former and current officers, firefighters and other colleagues as vouching for the retired priest's reliability and character.
Terrie Light, a local leader of SNAP, said Friday that police were sending the wrong message to molestation victims.
"It's totally outrageous," she said. "There's many of us, victims, counting on the Police Department and the district attorney to put these bad guys in jail. Hearing all these comments -- from people in very prestigious, powerful positions -- supporting him, I felt this sense of overwhelming sadness."
Light said the Catholic Church has long harbored child molesters. "But the police, their call is to the public safety and, it seems, above all, the safety of children," Light said.
"It is one thing to . . . sit back and say, 'Wait and see,' and personally not believe it," she said. "But to be allowed to go public for the support. . .
What does that say to the public? In my mind, it says, 'He is not guilty. We know him. We are going to vouch for him. He's a good guy.' "
SNAP - THE SURVIVORS NETWORK OF THOSE ABUSED BY PRIESTS
January 31, 2003
Chief E. Prentice Sanders
San Francisco Police Dept.
850 Bryant Street #525
San Francisco, CA 94103
Dear Chief Sanders:
A physician's first rule is "do no harm." That, we believe, should be a police officer's first rule as well.
Yet on Wednesday, 100 of your officers stood in court behind a man criminally charged with child sexual abuse. That insensitive action may have harmed many molestation victims and may have impaired your department's ability to pursue abusers in the future.
As men and women who were victimized by sexually abusive Catholic priests, we were hurt and angered by what these officers did. We strongly suspect that other victims of sex crimes feel just as hurt and betrayed.
Particularly upsetting was the presence of Deputy Chief Greg Suhr. An individual in his role with his title and authority should certainly have known better and showed better judgment.
The impact on those already victimized is significant. But even more significant is the impact on those who have yet to report their victimization. Some of them may be frightened or discouraged into keeping silent.
Your job is to prevent crime and catch criminals. You can only do this if crime victims feel safe cooperating with you. That won't happen if crime victims see your employees rallying behind accused child molesters.
Your department's hard-won reputation for integrity and independence is threatened by what these officers did. We call upon you to do everything you can to undo this damage, by
- making these officers publicly apolgize for their inappropriate action,
- sending them to a training session run by a professional knowledgable about abuse issues,
- forbidding any department staff from taking such actions in the future,
- removing any and all of these officers who may serve on your Sex Crimes unit, and
- formally disciplining them through a letter in their personnel files.
It is imperative that you take immediate steps to reassure hurting men, women, and children that the San Francisco Police Department investigates child molestation thoroughly and impartially, and will not tolerate any future public displays of support for Msgr. Heaney or any other accused molester.
We don't doubt that Msgr. Heaney has provided dedicated service to your department. Most priests who molest do outstanding pastoral work. Some psychologists offer a simple explanation: abusers feel deeply guilty for the pain they inflict on innocent kids, and attempt to "compensate" for their wrongdoing by becoming "super priests," working longer and harder than their colleagues. Other psychologists offer a more devious explanation: by ingratiating themselves with influential people, abusers win deference and trust, which then gives them even more opportunities to abuse, and more "cover" and protection when they get caught.
But regardless of Heaney's motives, and his record of service, the fact is that he is charged with a heinous crime. Therefore, your employees ought not to publicly show support for him and thereby intimidate other victims into silence.
We in SNAP believe in Christian charity and compassion. We believe that everyone, including molesters, deserve sympathy and understanding. But even more, we believe that children deserve to be safe, and crime victims deserve to feel safe. The natural human kindness we feel towards an adult we personally know must not cloud our obligation to protect vulnerable children we don't know.
Across the country, police departments are becoming increasingly creative and assertive in catching child molesters. They are becoming more and more sensitive to the needs and feelings of those devastated by abusers. On Wednesday, your officers, however, did just the reverse. They aided and abetted sexual predators and they rubbeed salt in the already deep wounds of many of us.
We look forward to your prompt reply and your prompt corrective action. We would like to meet with you very soon to discuss this matter. Please call us anytime.
National Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of
Those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal St.
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790 cell
314 645 5915
Northwest Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of
Those Abused by Priests
20632 Glenwood Drive
Castro Valley, CA 94552
510 517 3338 cell
510 649 4965 ex 309
Three strikes and I'm out as far as getting the formatting straightened out! Sorry about that!/Grits
Edited by - grits on 3 February 2003 2:52:22