SNAP wants church’s ‘victim assistance’ workers dismissed

The archbishop of Philadelphia has suspended 21 priests accused of sexually abusing children, and expressed sadness for victims.  But some who support those victims would like to see more done. A support group for the victims is urging Philadelphia Catholic officials to fire some of the church staff mentioned in a recent grand jury report. David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has called on Cardinal Justin Rigali to remove the people the church relied on to deal with victims. “The grand jury was very clear and very harsh in their assessment of these individuals,” said Clohessy. “They essentially betrayed already deeply wounded individuals by violating their privacy and their confidence in giving information about them to church defense lawyers, which is simply unconscionable.” Clohessy said the perception that the “victims’ assistance coordinators” have betrayed others may stop some victims from coming forward.   A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese said Rigali has assigned an expert to evaluate what is in the best interest of victims.

“If this were a day-care center and they had operated in this way, and then they had the nerve to suggest that they should be able to determine how to handle 37 individuals who were actively with children at this point, they would be laughed at,” said attorney Marci Hamilton. She recently brought civil suits against the church on behalf of some of the sex-abuse victims. Hamilton is critical of the ongoing investigation by Gina Maisto Smith, a former Philadelphia assistant district attorney brought in by the archdiocese to examine the abuse allegations.   “Why would the archdiocese at this point–considering it continues to need to control the release of the names, the release of the information–why would she think that they are automatically going to provide everything that she needs for a proper investigation,” asked Hamilton.

Hamilton said Smith’s findings should be made public.

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