|Statement by Mark Crawford on Fr. Noche and Fr. McAlinden
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
December 14, 2008
STATEMENT by Mark Crawford of Woodbridge, SNAP New Jersey Director (732-632-7687)
We're here today to talk about two priests – Fr. Noche and Fr. McAlinden.
And we're here to talk about three issues – openness, recklessness, and callousness.
First, Fr. Noche. . . We're here today because at least six or seven parishioners have asked for our help. Over the years, many victims have gotten much support and help from Catholic lay people. So when lay people ask for our help, we try our best to lend a hand. And when we hear from a number of Catholics over several months, all reporting essentially the same facts and concerns, we feel duty bound to help them protect their families and help prod the church hierarchy to act responsibly.
In isolation, each of the following facts may seem innocent or have a simple, safe 'explanation.' But cumulatively, they are troubling:
FACT: Noche went to a parkway rest stop that is notorious for anonymous sexual encounters.
FACT: There have been a number of law enforcement 'sting' operations and arrests there.
FACT: Noche isn't new to this area, so it's hard to believe he was unaware of this history.
FACT: Noche is well educated.
FACT: He's in his 40s, smart enough to know where he was going.
FACT: He was said, by police, to spend 2 hours at the rest stop.
FACT: It's just two miles from his parish.
FACT: His alibi, that he was meeting a friend, was contradicted by the friend himself.
FACT: He could have fought the charges, but chose to plead guilty to one of them.
FACT: A man plead guilty to sexually abusing a 12 year old boy in May at this same rest stop
Is it possible there's a perfectly innocent explanation for what he was doing for two hours at that rest stop?
Certainly. Is it likely? No.
Consider a few more disturbing facts:
FACT: He's still in a parish right now.
FACT: He's in charge of the altar boys.
FACT: There's a parochial school at the parish.
FACT: He apparently hasn't even been sent away for treatment or evaluation, as best we can tell.
FACT: For decades, Catholic officials have worked hard to keep these kinds of clergy sex crimes invisible.v FACT: Trenton's bishop has repeatedly pledged to be open about clergy sex crimes, both alleged and proven.
FACT: Most importantly, Trenton's Catholic hierarchy kept this incident quiet. That's worth repeating: Trenton's Catholic hierarchy kept this incident quiet.
If this were a financial crime, we wouldn't be here.
Financial crimes aren't necessarily repetitive and compulsive.
Most often, sexual crimes are.
If this were a financial crime, we wouldn't be here.
Bishops haven't promised to be open and transparent about clergy financial crimes.
They have, however, pledged to be open about clergy sex crimes.
So from our perspective, here's the bottom line: Like most of his colleagues, Bishop Smith's clearly not living up to that pledge of openness. This, of course, leads us to raise a logical but troubling question: what other alleged sex crimes are being kept hidden by Bishop Smith, whether by clerics or lay people, with kids or adults, and that are proven or admitted?
Catholics deserve and parents need to know the answer to that simple question.
Second, Fr. McAlinden;
In September 2007, he was suspended because of credible child sex abuse allegations. He moved into a house directly next door to his old rectory. We suspect he did this to intimidate others who saw, suspected or suffered his sex crimes into staying silent.
Three months ago, a Trenton church official claimed, in an e mail that was quoted in a newspaper story, that nothing could be done about McAlinden. That's ridiculous. This predator is getting a diocesan paycheck, insurance, benefits and retirement. This predator pledged to obey his bishop. His bishop can and should force him to move into a treatment center, so the priest can get therapyand so that innocent kids can be protected. At the very least he should be ordered to move from the parish Doing anything less is reckless and callous.
Now, the three issues.
The first is openness. We've talked about that. Bishop Smith is violating his promises to be open about clergy sex crimes.
The second is recklessness. It's reckless to let Fr. Noche remain in a parish without disclosing, at least to his flock and his co-workers, this incident. And it's reckless to let Fr. McAlinden live right next door to the parish from which he was suspended. Kids will be safer if McAlinden is moved and monitored.
The third is callousness. It's callous toward Fr. McAlinden's victims when the bishop lets a credibly accused predator engage in such manipulative and intimidating acts with no consequences or condemnation.
We're calling on Bishop Smith today to ''come clean" about Fr. Noche's alleged crimes, to warn his flock about him, and to put both Fr. Noche and Fr. McAlinden in secure treatment centers so they can get the therapy they need, and so that others who might be victimized can be protected.
For more information: David Clohessy, SNAP national director 314 566 9790, Joelle Castiex, SNAP southwestern regional director 949
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