Survivors Network Against Abuse by Priests (SNAP) Updates

by blondie 4 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • blondie

    This group has joined hands with Silentlambs in the fight against religious sexual abuse. There are by similarities in their fights If there is no SL member nearby, please contact them for support and help (though keep contacting Kim Norris re legal issues).,1674,96%257E3750%257E2428179,00.html

    Victims talk about priest sex abuse
    Norwalk SNAP members tell of lost innocence
    By ANDREW BROPHY [email protected]

    Sunday, September 26, 2004 -


    Joe Monte, 47, of Bridgeport, said Saturday that the sexual abuse he suffered at a Catholic boarding school in Boston scarred him for life.

    "They're somehow stuck in childhood, a lot of them, in one capacity or another," Monte said of sexual abuse victims. "I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up."

    During a lunch break at the first meeting of the Connecticut chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Monte said the director of the former Cushing Hall Academy would climb into bed with Monte and cover his mouth while he abused him.

    "It was not an every night occurrence. It was very sporadic," Monte said. He was 12 years old at the time.

    Monte said he later became a runaway, ward of the state and an alcoholic because of his struggle to come to terms with the abuse.

    The Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer and SNAP's keynote speaker, said sexual abuse by priests "has an impact on [the victim] that is far-reaching and can perhaps extend throughout their whole life."

    Priests who abuse children not only rape their bodies, but also rape their souls, taking away their religion and spirituality, Doyle said.

    Victims of sexual abuse by priests, a scandal that has rocked the Catholic church, met in Norwalk Community College Saturday to support each other and to discover the progress made in their and their allies' attempts to hold the Catholic church accountable.

    It was the first meeting of SNAP's Connecticut chapter, which formed eight months ago.

    Landa Mauriello-Vernon, director of SNAP CT, said the organization exists to "reach out to victims suffering in silence" and to "call for accountability."

    On the legal front, Doyle said the Catholic church was on the losing side of two important court decisions in California.

    One said the church, as an institution, can be held liable for what its members do; the other said the separation of church and state did not apply to Archdiocese of Los Angeles files sought by prosecutors, Doyle said.

    On the social front, Doyle said the deference given to priests, who are viewed as morally above the laity in the Catholic religion, was evaporating. Doyle contended that the laity's deference to priests enabled the Catholic church to bury allegations of abuse.

    "We're being liberated from the chains of this control," Doyle said. "This is the 21st century. The age of monarchies is gone. You can't tell people 'Jump,' and they'll ask 'How high?' on the way up."

    "The most important person in the church is not the pope, bishops or cardinals, but the one who's most hurting and most in need of compassion," he said. "This time around, the institutional church is not in control."

    Doyle said he had not lost his faith, but its source was "no longer institutions and power holders."

    "It's Christ," Doyle said. "Eliminate the middle man. You get a much better result."

    Doyle said "a vast amount of scholarly research" was still going on to discover why priests sexually abused children, but the Catholic church was "unfortunately the one entity not involved."

    The mandatory celibacy of priests was not part of any sacramental rites and seemed to have "a profound effect on the stability and emotional maturity of clerics," Doyle said.

    Though abuse by priests came to the forefront 20 years ago, Doyle said it's been taking place much longer. He said the Council of Elvira in Spain in the year 309 passed a law that forbid priests from sexually abusing boys.

    Sexual abuse by priests was more than a crisis, Doyle said.

    "This is an era," he said. "My hope, nave as it is, is that the church will emerge stronger, more pure, much more compassionate and capable of healing."

    Monte said he came forward with his allegations of abuse in 1994 around the time that Frank Fitzpatrick Jr. was pushing authorities to investigate the Rev. James Porter of Falls River, Mass.

    Monte said his abuser was put on administrative leave for two years and had retired by the time another victim came forward eight years later.

    A woman who did not identify herself in SNAP's meeting spoke of the shame she felt after being abused by a priest, but said she now knew the abuse "was not my sin.",0,3325109.story?coll=stam-news-local-headlines

    Fight against abuse by clergy far from over, survivors say

    By John Nickerson
    Staff Writer

    September 26, 2004

    NORWALK -- A conference on sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church held at Norwalk Community College yesterday drew about 150 victims, supporters and health professionals.

    The daylong seminar hosted by SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was the first in Connecticut. Since February, two Connecticut SNAP chapters were launched in Bridgeport and East Hartford.

    SNAP state Director Landa Mauriello-Vernon, of Hamden, told attendees that when the Bridgeport chapter got its start, it had only eight members.

    Eight months later, the chapter has 58 members. More than 90 percent of the roster consists of people who were sexually molested by clergy, Mauriello-Vernon said.

    Mauriello-Vernon, who has a civil suit pending against a nun who she alleges sexually assaulted her while she was a student at Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden, said abuse has not come to an end.

    "There may not be articles in the newspaper every day, there may not be lawsuits filed every day as a result of the statute of limitations put on survivors, but it is in no way over," she said.

    Her comments and those of a former U.S. Air Force chaplain critical of the church came a day after the Diocese of Bridgeport released a report saying that its churches are in complete compliance with the Roman Catholic church's policy for protecting minors from sex abuse.

    "The measures we have taken have increased significantly the accountability within our parishes, schools and institutions to continue to build a safe environment," Bishop William Lori said in a statement released Friday.

    The diocese, which oversees 87 parishes in Fairfield County, was audited by Boston-based Gavin Group from June 2003 to this month in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

    The policy is a zero-tolerance sex abuse policy drafted by the U.S. Bishops at their historic Dallas conference in June 2002.

    According to the diocese release, the auditors looked at the adequacy of policies that included responding to complaints, outreach to victims, the independence of lay review boards and policies for removing priests who have abused.

    The report states, "The diocese has established clear and well-publicized standards of ministerial behavior for priests and deacons. A communication policy is in effect which reflects the bishop's pledge to be open and transparent on issues regarding the sexual abuse of children."

    "As I have said before," Bishop Lori stated, "We are moving forward together as a family of faith in the right direction."

    Inside NCC's PepsiCo theater, however, there was disagreement about the church's path.

    The Rev. Thomas Doyle, who was ordained 34 years ago and is preparing to publish a book with two other researchers on the history of Catholic church law against violations of celibacy, said the sexual abuse crisis is changing people's perception of the church and its hierarchy.

    "It's changed society and its approach to organized religion, and it's changed organized religion. It has begun or accelerated a process to demythologize organized churches, especially Catholicism. It's been removed from the area of magical thinking down to what it really is, a human organization that hopefully is inspired by solid spiritual principals, but oftentimes can prostitute those principles and prostitute itself," said Doyle, who calls himself a recovering Catholic.

    Doyle, who said he was removed as a chaplain only months before his retirement from the Air Force last month, said the sexual abuse that occurred over the past 20 years has transferred much of the control of sexual predators inside the church out of the hands of the church hierarchy.

    "The refusal of adult victim survivors to not back down and knuckle under and pay, pray and obey, has been one of the key features in bringing about accountability and healing for tens of thousands," said Doyle. "This time around, the institutional church is not in control. You are in control of incidents of violations of clerical celibacy, not the bishops."

    Norwalk resident Jim Alvord, whose support for those who have been sexually abused began about two years ago, was awarded SNAP's Survivors Lifeline Award.

    SNAP's New York City Director David Cerulli said: "Jim's compassion for and understanding of the struggle that survivors endure is something that has been so inspiring to me and many other survivors."

    Copyright © 2004, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

  • ezekiel3

    Welcome back Blondie!

    Is Snap involved in any of the developments related to this post? (disclosure of records)

  • blondie

    Ezekiel, I would suggest checking the SNAP site and/or contacting the regional director in that area California.

    Here is another update on the results of SNAP pressure.

    Bishop indicted on child rape charges

    Bishop Thomas Dupre of the Springfield Diocese of Springfield, Mass., addresses the media in this Nov. 6, 2003 file photo in Springfield to announce a policy for the protection of children and youth, and a code of conduct for clergy, administrators and volunteers. Dupre, the former head of the Springfield Diocese, was indicted Monday, Sept. 27, 2004 on child rape charges, accused of molesting two boys in the 1970s, the county prosecutor said. (AP Photo/The Berkshire Eagle, Ben Garver, File)

    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- Bishop Thomas Dupre, the former head of the Springfield Diocese, was indicted on child rape charges, accused of molesting two boys in the 1970s, the county prosecutor said Monday.

    He becomes the first Roman Catholic prelate indicted in the sex abuse scandal within the American church.
    Dupre, 70, resigned Feb. 11 after nine years as head of the diocese, one day after The Republican newspaper of Springfield confronted him with allegations he abused two boys while he was a parish priest. Dupre cited health reasons for his departure. He retains the title of bishop.

    The indictment was handed up Friday by a grand jury but unsealed Monday, said Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett.

    Dupre's lawyer, Michael Jennings, did not immediately return a call for comment. Mark Dupont, a spokesman for the Diocese of Springfield, said Dupre's successor, Bishop Timothy McDonnell, would have no immediate comment.

    McDonnell took over the diocese in April with a promise to heal the wounds inflicted by the sex abuse scandal. Since McDonnell's installation, the diocese has reached a $7 million settlement with 46 people who say they were abused by priests.

    There have been at least a dozen grand jury investigations involving how bishops dealt with abuse claims, and four other U.S. bishops have resigned after being accused of sexual misconduct.

    Dupre's alleged victims, who also are suing the cleric and the diocese, have said Dupre sexually abused them for years and asked them to keep quiet about the abuse when he was made auxiliary bishop in 1990. He became bishop in 1995.

    When he announced he was bringing the case to a grand jury, Bennett initially said the statute of limitations on the alleged abuse had likely expired. But Bennett later said charges were possible because Dupre allegedly tried to conceal the abuse recently.

    After his retirement, Dupre went to St. Luke Institute, a private Catholic psychiatric hospital in Maryland where the Boston Archdiocese sent many priests for treatment after sexual abuse allegations were made against them. The institute treats priests with emotional, behavioral and psychological problems.

    Dupre's whereabouts Monday were not immediately known.

    One of the men, who immigrated to America in 1975, said the abuse began when he was 12 after his family was befriended by Dupre. The man claimed the abuse lasted until he began dating a girl in high school.

    Dupre allegedly took him on out-of-state trips and to Canada, and bought pornography with the boy in Connecticut. Dupre is then accused of starting to abuse the other boy. The second victim says he was abused until he was about 20.

    Four other U.S. bishops have resigned after being accused directly of sexual misconduct since the scandal erupted in Boston in early 2002.

    Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland asked the Vatican to speed up his retirement after it was learned that the archdiocese paid a $450,000 settlement to a man who said Weakland sexually assaulted him. Bishop J. Kendrick Williams of Lexington, Ky., resigned after he was accused of abusing two minors decades ago - allegations he denied. Bishop Anthony O'Connell of Palm Beach, Fla., quit after admitting he repeatedly abused a student at a Missouri seminary he led. Auxiliary Bishop James McCarthy of New York, who stepped down after admitting to affairs with women.

    Roderick MacLeish, the lawyer representing the two men who accuse Dupre, has said one of his clients met with Dupre in December, and said he never wanted sexual relations with him. MacLeish said Dupre gave an unemotional apology, and told his client he wanted to remain friends.

    The other client, who is gay, came forward with his claims after hearing Dupre speak out against the legalization of same-sex marriage.

    MacLeish did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Monday.
    Associated Press
  • blondie

    Renewed Action on Statute of Limitations in Massachusetts due to Dupre Case (this shows how something good can come out of pursuing cases past the current statute of limitations in your state)

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    Sex crimes statute targeted

    Thursday, September 30, 2004 By staff and wire reports

    BOSTON - Demonstrators rallying at the Statehouse yesterday used the unprosecuted case against former Springfield Bishop Thomas L. Dupre as a reason to eliminate the statute of limitations in sex crimes against children.

    Dupre was indicted last week on two counts of child rape, but Hampden County District Attorney William M. Bennett said he is unable to prosecute because the statute of limitations at the time the attacks allegedly began in the 1970s was six years.

    Critics of the state statute of limitations said negative publicity surrounding the case of the former bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield may give the Legislature the "moral and political courage" to change the law.

    At a Statehouse rally yesterday, members of Massachusetts Citizens for Children and New England Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called upon new House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, D-Boston, to lead the fight to abolish the statute of limitations for sex crimes involving children.

    "We're calling on elected officials to have the moral and political courage to change this loophole," said Anne Barrett Doyle of Massachusetts Citizens for Children.

    Dupre announced his retirement and left the area Feb. 11, citing health reasons. The retirement came one day after the Republican confronted him with detailed allegations made by two men who said they were abused by him as children decades ago.

    The crimes allegedly occurred beginning in 1976 in West Springfield and Chicopee.

    Current Massachusetts law allows someone to be prosecuted for up to 15 years after committing a child rape. If the victim is under 16 years, prosecutors may prosecute for up to 15 years after the victim's 16th birthday or 15 years from when the crime is reported, depending on which is earlier.

    "If anything good comes out of the District Attorney Bennett's failure to be able to prosecute Bishop Dupre, it is we are able to call attention to a dangerous loophole," Doyle said.

    The group is calling on Bennett to also take a stand against the state law. He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

    "District attorneys all across the state need to have every tool at their disposal to be able to aggressively address this issue," said Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children.

    Boston lawyer Carmen Durso, who has represented hundreds of abuse victims, said it can take decades for some victims to come forward. The average age of his clients is 44, but most of them were abused as children.

    Doyle said even if the law is changed, it could not be applied retroactively to Dupre. EILEEN MCNAMARA

    Time is up for statute

    By Eileen McNamara, Globe Columnist | September 29, 2004

    It is past time to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual assault.

    Could there be a more Pyrrhic victory than the indictment this week of Bishop Thomas L. Dupre, former head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, in the rape of two children?

    No sooner had a grand jury indicted the first bishop in the United States to face criminal charges of child sexual abuse than the district attorney declared the crimes too old to prosecute. It was neither a welcome nor an arbitrary decision on the part of Hampden District Attorney William M. Bennett. The law tied his hands.

    The outcome in the Dupre case was no surprise to the frustrated victims or to their exasperated advocates. It mirrors scores of cases across the country in which the survivors of clergy sexual abuse have been denied access to the criminal justice system because time was on the side of their abusers.

    "Lawmakers should realize that the statute of limitations has become a refuge for dangerous men," David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said of the Dupre decision. "It's a legal loophole leading to horrific but avoidable pain for many innocent children."

    That is not the way that lawmakers, now led in the Massachusetts House by soon-to-be speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, a North End Democrat and longtime member of the defense bar, see things. It took public outrage at the extent of the clergy sexual abuse scandal to force the Legislature in 2002 to extend the statute of limitations to 15 years from the time a crime is reported to authorities. Former state senator Cheryl Jacques, a Democrat from Needham, had hoped to eliminate the time limits, but in a Legislature dominated by defense lawyers, a halfway measure was the best the former prosecutor could do.

    The Dupre decision should be motivation enough for like-minded legislators to try again.

    Why should a sexual assault victim's access to the courthouse depend on when the crime was committed? The argument made Monday by Dupre's lawyer, Michael O. Jennings, that memories fade and witnesses relocate or die, could be said about murder cases, as well. Yet most police departments have "cold case squads" to investigate suspicious deaths. There is no statute of limitations on murder because we agree as a culture that no killer should ever think that time alone will insulate him from the consequences of his crime.

    Why should it be any different for those who leave a child breathing, but kill his spirit? Why shouldn't prosecutors have an opportunity to make their case on the merits of the evidence, whatever its age? Why should Dupre enjoy an early retirement as a priest in good standing in an undisclosed location without ever having to face a jury of his peers? If the past is prologue, look for the Springfield prelate and his generous pension to make a soft landing in Rome.

    "It's a tough question that we get a lot from victims," said Stephen Bilafer, chief of staff for Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, who opposes the elimination of the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases.

    "These are very difficult cases to make under any circumstances, but especially after an extended passage of time," Bilafer said. "A case like this one cries out for the ability to prosecute, but the fact is that the ability to do justice does diminish over time."

    Reilly has lobbied instead for a measure that would stiffen penalties for those who are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse but who fail to do so. Clergymen have been mandated reporters since the scandal broke in 2002. The legislation would raise from $1,000 to $25,000 the potential fine for keeping silent in the face of evil.

    It's not enough. Child molesters and their protectors need to know that time is not on their side and that justice is on the side of their victims.

    Eileen McNamara is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]. alt

  • Xandria

    I had the opportunity to meet a few of the Local SNAP Representatives at the SL Vigil. They are a awesome organization.


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