SNAP Asks Ron Johnson to Help Obtain Names of Clergy Sex Offenders

By Emily Matesic
September 29, 2010

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is hoping to benefit from Republican senatorial candidate Ron Johnson's affiliation with the Green Bay Catholic Diocese.

The victims advocacy group is calling on Johnson to demand the diocese release the names of 51 known clergy sex offenders.

SNAP says it's asking Johnson to do this because back in January he testified on behalf of the Green Bay Catholic Diocese against the Crime Victims Act -- legislation that would lift the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases.

In a statement released Wednesday, Johnson defended his testimony.

"In January, I spoke against some of the language of the bill in the Wisconsin Legislature because I believed the way it was written could lead to unintended consequences against honorable non-profit groups like the Boys & Girls Club of America, education non-profits, and churches across Wisconsin."

SNAP, which says it isn't endorsing either candidate in the US Senate race, says it's bringing this issue up now because it believes Johnson has the power to influence diocesan officials.

"We are literally asking him as you can see in the letter and urging him to help," SNAP's Peter Isely said. "You can see the letter, it isn't an attack letter at all; it's a plea for help on behalf of victims and families. We think he's in a really unique position. He has put himself out there on this issue already, and so now we're asking him to put himself out there on this issue in a way we all feel we can agree to is going to bring about a common result that we're looking for."

In response to SNAP's request, Johnson released a statement saying in part:

"I call upon the Green Bay Diocese to provide the utmost transparency in order to answer any lingering questions or doubt among victims of child abuse and those who seek to prevent child abuse in the future."

Officials with SNAP tell us they appreciate Johnson's statement and are hoping to work with him to define transparency in order to accomplish their goal of having the list of known clergy sex offenders identified.


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