SNAP leader: Testimony was ‘fishing expedition’

National Catholic Reporter

Jan. 03, 2012
By Joshua J. McElwee

David Clohessy, the head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), says his court-ordered testimony Monday in the case of a priest accused of sexual misconduct amounted to an “extraordinary fishing expedition” to try and get at the contents of “private communications” between him and sex abuse victims and whistle-blowers.

The testimony, which Clohessy said lasted about six hours and took place in a St. Louis, Mo., hotel, came after the Missouri Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal to stop the deposition.

The deposition, requested by lawyers defending Kansas City, Mo., diocesan priest Fr. Michael Tierney, was first reported late last week. Lawyers requested that Clohessy testify and turn over 23 years’ worth of internal documents, correspondence and emails.

Victims’ advocates said the deposition, the first of its kind for SNAP, would have wide-ranging impact on the ability of victims of clergy sex abuse to identify their accusers and tell their stories without revealing their names in public. …

Referencing that he was questioned by five separate lawyers — one representing the Kansas City diocese, another Tierney, and three others representing other local priests accused of sexual misconduct — Clohessy said there was “almost no mention or questions” about the specific lawsuit against Tierney among the “200-plus questions about SNAP members and supporters and donors and operations.”

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