SNAP calls for investigation of child sex abuse, extended statute of limitations

KOMU 8 [Columbus, MO]

April 15, 2024

By Erin O'Connell

JEFFERSON CITY — A group of five individuals gathered outside of the Missouri attorney general’s office Monday morning to speak about recent reports of child sexual abuse at boarding schools across the state.

The press conference was led by David Clohessy, an abuse survivor and director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

Clohessy said that the news conference aimed to “discuss recent revelations and reports of abuse at largely unregulated ‘faith-based’ boarding schools in Missouri.”  

“We firmly believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Clohessy said. “And we believe Attorney General Andrew Bailey should act now, proactively, to prevent more abuse and more cover up in these institutions.”

SNAP said there’s been at least four abuse and cover-up scandals at boarding schools in Missouri. 

“Dozens of such ‘under the radar’ facilities have quietly moved to or opened across the state, in part to avoid regulatory oversight,” a news release said. “SNAP suspects that child predators are drawn to these institutions and many operators ignore or hide child sex crimes to boost profits, maintain enrollments and avoid public scandals.”

To conclude the conference, Clohessy and a fellow abuse survivor, Christopher Wimmer, delivered a letter to the attorney general, urging Bailey to “warn the public, launch an investigation and prod local prosecutors to do likewise.”  

“We always try to be hopeful,” Clohessy said. “What we’re asking him to do does require some initiative, some leadership, some risk, some courage. But after all, he is the top law enforcement official in the state, and these kids need his help.”

Following the conference, the group, along with other survivors and allies, testified at a committee hearing at the Missouri Capitol, advocating for a bill that would extend statute of limitations laws in Missouri.

St. Louis lawyer Ken Chackes said he has spent years of his career in this field.

“I have worked with over 200 cases and probably consulted in another couple of hundred, who didn’t have viable cases because of the statute of limitations,” Chackes said.

The bill had its first read in the Senate in February. 

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