court won't review
By David Clohessy
Survivors Network of Those Abused by
February 26, 2014
Victims blast justices for not taking abuse
Missouri's highest court refuses to hear
Employers of child molesters “get off the
hook,” SNAP says
Lower court rulings are “a horrific
injustice,” group maintains
SNAP: “When priests abuse 'off
premises,' Catholic officials exploit technicality”
For now, Missouri's highest court will not consider
overturning a lower court ruling that tossed out a clergy sex
abuse case against Catholic officials because a priest's
alleged crimes did not happen on church property.
Yesterday, Missouri's Supreme Court declined an appeal
from attorneys for a Kansas City man who says he was molested by
Fr. Michael Tierney, a priest who has faced several civil child
sex abuse lawsuits. Last November, a western Missouri appeals
court ruled that since Fr. Tierney's purported sexual
assaults happened on private property, his employer, the Kansas
City Catholic diocese, can't be held responsible for them.
“We are very sad the justices are choosing to not
look at this horrific injustice,” said David
Clohessy of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those
Abused by Priests. “We're also sad that KC Bishop
Robert Finn has used this technicality to protect a serial
predator priest and we fear other employers will be emboldened
now to do likewise.”
“For years, at least two Missouri prelates have
successfully exploited this legal loophole to conceal
clergy sex crimes and cover ups,” said Barbara
Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP's outreach director.
“Now, it's likely they'll continue and other
defendants will follow suit, which means that fewer child sex
abuse lawsuits will be filed, fewer child molesters will be
exposed and fewer children will be protected.”
St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson has used the same
argument successfully to get a child sex abuse case against Fr.
Thomas T. Cooper tossed out of court. (Ruling: 3/10)
“No one who commits or conceals heinous crimes
against children should get “off the hook” just
because someone else technically owns the land on which those
crimes happened,” said Clohessy. “The "take
away" from these rulings is frightening: Elementary
teachers should molest students while parked on the street, not
in the school lot. Middle school coaches should molest their
players after "away" games, not "home"
games. And ministers should molest their flocks on retreats held
elsewhere, not in the church itself.”
“It's hard to know what's more outrageous: that
secular officials permit this loophole or that allegedly
religious officials exploit this loophole,” said Dorris.
“We desperately hope the Missouri justices will eventually
consider this issue and will side with innocent kids
and their families and against
child molesters and their self-serving enablers.
SNAP predicts that the 1997 Missouri Supreme Court ruling
- Gibson v. Brewer - on which part of the lower courts'
rulings are based, will not stand. That case also involved
the Kansas City diocese and one of its priests.
“Gibson v. Brewer decision makes Missouri one of the
three toughest states for child sex abuse victims to expose
child molesters through civil suits and deter future cover
ups,” said Clohessy. “We're confident it will be
overturned. But Catholic officials will keep exploiting this
technicality - and others - as long as they possibly can.”
“The only real question is whether our justice
system will fix these loopholes quickly or slowly,” he
said. “Let's hope it doesn't take the rape of a
judge's daughter or a lawmaker's son to get this
remedied so that those who commit and conceal heinous crimes
against kids face consequences, even if they were smart enough
to hide the crimes or commit them in someone else's
Kansas City attorney Rebecca Randles represents the
alleged victim of Fr. Tierney. St. Louis attorney Ken Chackes
represented the alleged victim of Fr. Cooper.
Fr. Tierney is alive. Fr. Cooper is deceased. More info on
both can be found at BishopAccountability.org Contact: SNAPdorris@gmail.com