SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [Chicago IL]
May 19, 2022
(For Immediate Release May 19, 2022)
Springfield Catholic officials must not stay silent while misguided staff, students and parents publicly rally around a coach who’s just been suspended after being named in a child abuse report. Every time parishioners rally around an accused child molesting cleric, it is sad, tiresome, and hurtful to vulnerable kids, those wounded, and ultimately to the school, parish, and diocese itself.
Bishop Ed Rice and other school officials must denounce this well-intended but hurtful move.
To those who wonder “Why is there so much abuse in the church,” here’s a clue: When Catholic officials let church members and others intimidate victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers into silence as abuse reports happen, even more people with information or suspicions about child sex abuse give up, go away or stay quiet. And that of course enables and emboldens other child molesters to keep committing their heinous crimes.
It’s sad because it shows how desperately people want to believe that abuse so close to home isn’t possible and those accused could never commit such heinous crimes. And it’s sad because it shows how little many churchgoers and staffers have ‘reformed’ their mishandling of child sex abuse in the 30 years since the first US pedophile priest attracted national headlines.
It’s tiresome because the same pattern emerges in case after case after case. Those who know the accused are “shocked.” Because the church or school employee is good at this or that – teaching, coaching, homilies, service work, one-on-one counseling, or boosting church membership – few can imagine that he can simultaneously be sick at some deep emotional level. Because church and school employees desperately grasp for some “other explanation for an allegation that may be just what it seems: child sex crimes by a popular, powerful, and shrewd individual.
The bishop, his staff, and his supporters are essentially playing ‘good cop, bad cop.’ Catholic official suspended the coach. Yet at the same time, Rice lets the coach’s colleagues and others publicly rally and back the accused. Instead, he should be circulating this among his flock:
Rice can’t have his cake and eat it too. He can’t claim to be concerned about child sex abuse victims yet allow an alleged predator’s backers to frighten those same potential victims.
If Rice cares about victims of abuse, he’ll show some spine and teach his flock how to more appropriately, and quietly, support an accused child molesting cleric so that others who may have suffered abuse won’t be further hurt and silenced.
Kids are safe in institutions that invite and welcome reports of suspected abuse, not in institutions that instantly rally around accused criminals. These well-meaning people are inadvertently making their church and school more dangerous places by their public support of an alleged child molester, and their bishop sits back letting this happen.
If someone wants to support this coach, they should do so quietly and privately, so that others with information about his alleged crimes won’t be scared into staying quiet. Rice should take two immediate steps. First, he should denounce those who are publicly backing the accused. Second, he should use his vast resources – parish bulletins, diocesan websites, school mailing lists, and pulpit announcements – to beg anyone who may have information that might help prove or disprove this accusation to contact law enforcement.
Contact – David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org) Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (email@example.com 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)