Swearingen Decision Draws Protest

Fresno Bee
December 21, 2006

A news conference to protest Fresno Bishop John T. Steinbock's decision not to suspend Father Eric Swearingen from his duties will be held this afternoon in Fresno, according to a news release issued this morning by SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

A Los Angeles clergy sex abuse victim who is described as a leader of the nationwide support group is scheduled to address the media in front of the Fresno County Court House on Van Ness Avenue in downtown Fresno, beginning at 1:15 p.m.

Swearingen is accused of molesting an altar boy nearly 20 years ago in Bakersfield and Fresno.

A civil trial in the case ended Wednesday with a hung jury. The jury voted 9-3 that Swearingnen had molested former altar boy Juan Rocha, but voted 7-5 to clear the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno of wrongdoing. A new trial is expected to be held in April.

Meantime, Steinbock has declared Swearingen innocent of all charges and has left the door open for him to return to his parish when he feels ready.

SNAP, the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims, accuses Steinbock of being "reckless and arrogant" for his refusal to remove the priest.

Check throughout the day for updates and The Fresno Bee tomorrow for the complete story.


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