|Abuse Group Blasts Popular Statewide Non-profit Group
September 13, 2010
For more information: David Clohessy (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
It defends itself in child sex case by blaming victim’s parents
A support group for child sex abuse victims is blasting a statewide non-profit agency and a St. Joseph church over their recent legal move to try and hold the parents of an sexually abused girl partially responsible for the suffering she endured.
Lawyers for Missouri OATS and the New Life Bible church are suing the parents of a Missouri woman who was repeatedly sexually victimized in childhood by Michael J. Landy, who pled guilty to molesting her. Landy was youth minister at the church and an employee of Missouri OATS.
The two institutions where Landy spent time aren’t denying that the crimes happened. They are, however, asking a judge to let them figure out to what extent, if any, the girl’s mother and father are to blame for the harm that she experienced.
“This is downright cruel – to claim that a mom and dad who took their faith seriously and became missionaries are somehow at fault because their church youth minister raped their daughter,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis. He’s the director of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
“What kind of perverse church and agency officials can think up, much less formally make such mean-spirited legal maneuvers?” Clohessy said.
Lawyers for the two defendants want permission to try and figure out the “comparative liability” of Landy and the child’s parents. The move is being fought by the victim’s attorney, Rebecca Randles of Kansas City (816 931 9901).
In January, Judge Dan Kellogg sentenced Landy, 57, to “seven years in prison, then suspended the execution of that sentence in lieu of five years of probation and 120 days of shock detention,” according to the St. Joseph News Press. “The charge was committing statutory sodomy in the second degree,” and “Landy (was) the former regional director of OATS.”
The crimes were committed against a then 13 year old girl from 1996 to 1999.
SNAP wants OATS donors and volunteers to stop giving to and helping the agency until it withdraws the motion. And it wants other St. Joseph churches to condemn New Life and its leaders.
“We certainly don’t want a single elderly person to be inconvenienced,” said Clohessy. “But, even more, we don’t want a single child to be abuse or a single victim to be scared into staying silent instead of calling the police.”
SNAP says it feels it has no choice but to try and pressure the two defendants to drop their legal move.
“The Bible tells us to protect the most vulnerable, and there’s no one more vulnerable than children,” Clohessy emphasized. “We’ve got to make it easier, not harder, for kids and their parents to overcome the fears and report sex crimes.”
SNAP says it plans to contact the Federal Transit Administration, Area Agencies on Aging, the state Department of Mental Health and other sources of funding for OATS. And SNAP says it will soon write to other congregations in northwest Missouri asking their pastors to denounce New Life’s tactic.
“We’re asking those who care about kids to donate and volunteer elsewhere until OATS stops hurting victims and endangering children,” said Clohessy. “An OATS employee molested a child. The OATS supervisors have to take responsibility. It’s just plain wrong to go blaming the kid’s family.”
Clohessy also said it sends a “terribly chilling message” to “others who are being or have been victimized and are wondering whether they should speak up.”
SNAP will also soon write to dozens of churches in and around St. Joseph, urging pastors to publicly denounce
“We realize, of course, that most ministers are reluctant to publicly criticize their colleagues,” Clohessy said. “But we also know that kind of self-imposed silence”
He cited the recent controversy over a planned Florida protest at which the Koran was to be burned by a minister.
“Hundreds of clerics across the US called on the Florida minister to cancel his plans and it worked,” he said. “If ministers will speak up to protect a book, they can certainly speak up to protect children.”
Finally, SNAP is also urging anyone who saw, suspected or suffered Landy’s crimes to come forward, get help and call police. “It’s just crucial that victims and witnesses keep doing what’s right – calling 911 – and not be intimidated or sidetracked by these two callous institutions and their mean-spirited legal maneuvers.”
OATS operates in 87 counties statewide and is headquartered at 501 Maguire Blvd, Ste. 101, in Columbia (573-443-4516). New Life Bible Church is at 3811 Pacific St. in St. Joseph MO (816 364 5510, http://newlife-biblechurch.org/Home.html) Church leaders include Ron & Pat Fisher (816 667 5422) and Mike and Millie Mosiman (816-238-4999, Cell:816-261-6453, Mike@midlandministries.org).
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