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  SNAP Wants Church to Release Names of Alleged Abusers

By Kim Bell kbell@post-dispatch.com
Post-Dispatch [St. Louis MO]
December 5, 2003

Group plans to post names on Web site

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests on Thursday urged the Archdiocese of St. Louis to "come clean" and release the names of all abusive priests, known or suspected.

"Any number of these men are essentially roaming free," said David Clohessy, the national director of SNAP. "It's crucial parents ask their children about these men."

Members of the victims' group stood outside the chancery on Lindell Boulevard with signs listing 30 church leaders - priests, a nun and three brothers - who are alleged child molesters.

Each person listed had worked in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and has been publicly accused of molesting a child, charged with a crime or is the subject of a suit.

Parents may be unaware "these men were credibly charged or served time" if church leaders simply remove them from their duties without going public, Clohessy said.

Church leaders countered by saying they want to be open and honest but don't want to risk releasing names of innocent priests.

"Our intention is full disclosure," Bishop Joseph F. Naumann said. But the church doesn't want to be "recklessly releasing ... somebody's name unjustly."

Minutes after the SNAP's outdoor news conference, Naumann held his own media briefing inside the chancery. Naumann is administrator of the archdiocese.

Naumann said he would ask the archdiocese's sexual-abuse oversight committee about how to handle releasing information about abuse allegations.

The way St. Louis church leaders handle it now is fairly typical for archdioceses across the nation. Since last year, when a priest has gone to court or been removed from active ministry, the church puts out a press release and makes an announcement from the pulpit in that particular parish.

SNAP prefers something more along the lines of what Cardinal William Keeler did in Baltimore. He disclosed on a Web site all clergy who were suspected sex abusers over the last 50 years, including those already dead.

"That's good, but they only kept it on the Web site for about six weeks," Clohessy said.

Naumann said Keeler's approach "is certainly a possibility.

"How you publicize, we're open to many possibilities," he added. "Our concern is that we not release names of innocent people."

Included in SNAP's list Thursday were James Pavlik and John Baptist Ormechea. Neither man's name had surfaced before in local media reports.

Pavlik is a former St. Louis area priest removed in November 2000 due to an abuse allegation. His appointments from 1963 to 2000 included Most Holy Trinity (Slovak) Church, St. John Nepomuk Church and St. Mary Magdalen, all in St. Louis.

Ormechea has been sued twice this year in Chicago for allegedly molesting two altar boys. One of the lawyers suing Ormechea, Marc Pearlman, said Ormechea served in St. Louis from 1989-90 at the Mother of Good Counsel Community after working in Chicago.

By today, Clohessy hopes to post the 30 names on SNAP's Web site, www.snapmidwest.org

Reporter Kim Bell
E-mail: kbell@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 314-340-8115
 
 

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