|Victims to San Diego Bishop: Stop Delaying More Disclosure
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
October 25, 2010
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will
--blast San Diego's Catholic bishop for delaying the disclosure of another 2,000 pages of records about predator priest and
--urge him to reverse himself and stop raising objections that are keeping the crucial documents hidden
-- blast the bishop for keeping silent for years about a proven local predator priest who is still in ministry today, and
-- urge him to write the Pope and his Mexican counterpart about ousting the predator.
Finally, they will prod the bishop to personally visit each parish where child molesting San Diego clerics worked, begging victims and witnesses to come forward, call police, expose pedophiles, protect kids and start healing.
TODAY, Monday, Oct. 25, 10:15 a.m.
Outside St. Joseph's Cathedral, 1535 Third Ave. at Beech, in San Diego CA
Three clergy sex abuse victims including a Missouri man who heads a support group called Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)
As best SNAP can determine, Fr. Gustavo Benson is still an active parish priest in Ensenada, roughly 80 miles south of San Diego, despite having pleaded "no contest" to molesting two boys in San Bernardino. The organization is challenging San Diego Bishop Robert Brom to write Pope Benedict and Benson's Mexican bishop to get the cleric defrocked.
SNAP also wants Brom to 1) stop filing legal objections to the release of church abuse records and 2) order a handful of his suspended, credibly accused child molesting priests to drop their objections to the release of the files.
Some 230 pages of long-secret church records about Benson were among the 10,000 pages of diocesan documents that were publicly released yesterday and posted on-line as a prevention and public safety step by California lawyers and BishopAccountability.org (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/docs/san_diego/). The files involve roughly 48 proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics, several of whom had previously never been publicly accused of molesting kids before. According to the Los Angeles times, the records "show a familiar pattern of nondisclosure, priest transfers and fear of bad publicity."
The disclosure is the result of an order on Friday by Judge William C. Pate arising from the Sept. 2007 settlement between 144 victims and the San Diego diocese for almost $200 million. As part of the deal, the victims insisted that the records be disgorged. And for the last three years, their attorneys have been battling in court to get these files publicly released. The victims' attorneys estimate that this batch of records represents about 80% of the records they believe should be released. They believe that the other 20% may include some of the more significant documents.
In 1987, Benson was given three years' probation and treatment at a church facility in New Mexico. According to a 2002 Press Enterprise article, he was assigned to the Tijuana diocese even though San Bernardino's bishop told Mexican counterpart about Benson's history and warned that Benson should have no access to children. SNAP considers Brom reckless and callous, for not working harder to warn Mexican Catholics about Benson and to get Vatican officials to permanently oust him.
Benson worked in at least two local parishes (Our Lady of Sacred Heart in San Diego and Mary Star of the Sea in Oceanside) and two in Colton (San Salvador and Immaculate Conception). He was also assigned to a church in San Bernardino (Our Lady of Guadalupe) and one in Barstow (St Joseph Church). In the files disclosed yesterday is a 1996 letter to Benson from a Msgr. Donald Webber, addressed to Benson at a post office box in Chula Vista, which is also in the San Diego diocese.
At least two victims have filed and settled civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuits involving Benson.
The attorneys who represent most San Diego clergy sex abuse victims are Irwin Zalkin (858 259 3011, firstname.lastname@example.org), Tony Demarco (310 927 9277 cell, email@example.com).
David Clohessy (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Paul Livingston (619 677 7133, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Blaine (312 399 4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)
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