|Statement by SNAP Director Barbara Garcia-boehland of San Antonio
February 16, 2009
Last month marked the 7 year anniversary of the public unveiling of the long-secret Catholic sex abuse and cover up scandal.
This summer marks the 7 year anniversary of the bishops' so-called 'reforms.'
Today marks the 5 year anniversary of the disclosure that at least 4,000 priests, brothers, nuns, seminarians and bishop are proven, admitted and credibly accused predators. (Today, that number tops 5,000.)
Hundreds of church supervisors are proven, admitted and credibly accused 'enablers,' because they ignored or concealed suspicions or knowledge of clergy sex crimes.
Despite all this, we in SNAP still see that church officials continue to
- move slowly against abusive priests,
- keep those allegations secret,
- stay silent about determinations that those allegations are 'credible,'
- quietly transfer credibly accused predator priests elsewhere, and
- let those credibly accused predators stay in church jobs and/or facilities.
At the same time, church officials do little or nothing to find and help others who were hurt by these predators or warn others who might be vulnerable to these predators.
This is the case with Fr. Charles H. Miller and his supervisors in the Marianists. To a lesser but still significant degree, this is the also case with two Catholic universities and two Catholic dioceses, which could have and still should work harder to locate and comfort those Miller has hurt, and to alert and protect those Miller might be hurting now or in the future.
Here's the rough chronology:
In the 1970s, Miller started grooming and inappropriately touching a St. Louis girl.
In 1980, when she was 17, he egregiously sexually abused her.
In 2005, she reported this to Miller's supervisors, the Marianists.
In 2007, those supervisors finally admitted, privately, that her allegations are 'credible.'
That same year, Miller resigned his university positions.
One year later, Miller was transferred to the literal and figurative power center of Catholicism: Rome.
He remains there now.
He could be molesting an innocent child or vulnerable adult as we speak.
We strongly suspect and fear that most of Miller's victims, however, remain trapped in shame, silence and self-blame.
The Marianists may claim: 'She was above the legal age of consent when he abused her.'
Our view, however, is that what Miller did to this girl, before she turned 17, was illegal, immoral and hurtful. His abusive actions were even more awful when she turned 17. And it's wrong, callous, and deceptive for church officials to split hairs and exploit legal technicalities and imply less harm was somehow done because of what particular acts happened on what side of her secular 'age of majority.'
The University may claim: 'This isn't our matter. It should be taken up with the Marianists.'
Our view, however, is that if a Democratic university professor molests a teenager, that's a matter for the university, not the Democrats. If an Italian university professor molests a teenager, that's a matter for the university, not the Italian consulate.
The Pope told American Catholics last spring to "do everything possible" to heal wounds of abuse victims.
He said nothing about ignoring or minimizing or hiding clergy sex crimes.
He said nothing about trying to shift blame and point fingers and be deceptive.
It's long past time for the Marianists, these two dioceses and these two universities to do the right thing, publicly announce that Miller abused this girl, and aggressively and publicly seek out and offer help to anyone else who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes or misdeeds.
We beg anyone with information about Miller, or any other Marianist or University staffer, current or former, to find courage, step forward, call police and protect innocent teens and vulnerable adults from predators like Miller.
Finally, we applaud this brave and compassionate woman, who patiently but persistently fought a recalcitrant, secretive church bureaucracy. She got them to admit, privately, that Miller is a predator. She tried repeatedly to get them to admit this publicly, so that others he violated might be consoled, and so that others he's near might be safer. But church officials refused. Shame on them for such insensitive, reckless and self-serving secrecy.
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566 9790 cell
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Coordinator (314) 503 0003 cell
Linda Briggs-Harty of St. Louis, Survivor Advocate (ex-Marianist employee) (314) 610 2362 cell
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