Victims Advocacy Group Presses Archbishop for Action

By Abe Levy
February 26, 2009

A victims advocacy group is asking for an apology from San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez for what it described as his inaction and silence in dealing with two Catholic clergymen whose religious orders recently found claims of them each having sexually abused a teenager to be credible.

Barbara Garcia-Boehland, local director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, hand delivered a letter addressed to Gomez at the archdiocesan headquarters Wednesday afternoon. A department director for the archdiocese told her Gomez was not in the office but assured her the letter would be delivered.

Garcia-Boehland said she left phone messages and has written letters for the past couple of weeks to Gomez about her concerns but has received no response. The letter she sent Wednesday raised the same concerns that Gomez and other Catholic officials were not doing enough to hold two clergy accountable for their abuse.

“We want to know who's going to take responsibility for these known pedophiles,” Garcia-Boehland said.

Brother Richard Suttle of the Claretian Missionaries of the U.S. Western Province lives and studies in San Antonio. He sexually abused a teen in the early 1980s in Arizona, according to a public notice from the Phoenix diocese.

Also, Father Charles H. Miller of the Society of Mary worked at St. Mary's University for more than two decades and was let go in 2007 after his religious order found a claim that he sexually abused a teen in 1980 to be credible. Last year he was moved to Rome.

Both religious orders barred the men from public ministry and placed them on a restrictive plan that monitors their whereabouts.

Calls to the archdiocese spokesman, Pat Rodgers, were not returned but he has said the religious orders have taken appropriate measures and stressed the two men do not work for the archdiocese.

Garcia-Boehland believes Gomez should move to revoke their ministry credentials. And since Suttle lives in San Antonio, she is asking Gomez to oust him.

She also questioned why Gomez didn't initiate steps to make these matters public once he knew they were credible. Instead, she said her victims advocacy group had to generate publicity with two press conferences about these men in the past couple of weeks.

“That burden shouldn't fall to us,” her letter says. “...When Claretians secretly move an accused predator into San Antonio and when Marianists secretly move an accused predator out of San Antonio, your silence endangers your parishioners and others.”


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