JEFFERSON CITY (MO)
Sept. 26, 2019
By Joe Ganim
Victims of Catholic clergy sexual abuse said Wednesday — like previous efforts to deal with the crisis — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s recently released report on abuse was woefully inadequate.
Members and supporters of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests held a news conference on the sidewalk outside Schmitt’s Jefferson City office Wednesday afternoon to express their disappointment in the report, which they had awaited for more than a year.
David Clohessy, the former national director of SNAP, called on Schmitt’s office to reveal whom it interviewed for the investigation.
“In this report, there is virtually no mention of corrupt church officials who conceal — and have concealed in the past — these crimes,” Clohessy said. “Virtually no mention of several church-run treatment centers in Missouri that (over decades) have literally imported hundreds — if not thousands — of predator priests from other states. And virtually no mention of religious order priests, who comprise about one-third of the priests in America.”
These are among the shortcomings that “plague this probe,” he said.
Schmitt’s office replied to the criticism in a statement it released following the news conference.
“Victims have a right to be angry over the actions of the Catholic Church and the church’s wide-reaching cover up — in many instances, it has completely and totally upended their lives,” the statement said. “We were both humbled by the victims’ bravery in coming forward and deeply saddened by the stories of abuse and cover-up we heard. The Attorney General’s Office sought to do a thorough, victim-centric, and independent investigation of allegations of abuse from the Roman Catholic Church.”
SNAP has studied dozens of reports about clergy abuse from around the world — created by attorneys general, grand juries and special governmental bodies, Clohessy said.
“We have never seen a report as bad as this one — as deceptive and as unhelpful,” Clohessy said. “Because of this report, Missourians may well be left with the impression that most of the crimes and cover-ups are in the past. We believe that is wrong, and we believe that’s irresponsible.”
The investigation began in August 2018, after the public received revelations about Cardinal Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who was suspended in July 2018 over allegations he had sexually abused seminary students and later retired. Less than a month later, a Pennsylvania grand jury released a report on clergy abuse across the state.
Within a few days, the Archdiocese of St. Louis asked then-Attorney General Josh Hawley to look into its clergy. Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of the Diocese of Jefferson City soon followed the lead.
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