SNAP Reacts to Colorado Springs Priest Sexual Assault Charges

CBS Denver
May 23, 2012

[with video]

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)- A Catholic priest in Colorado Springs will appear in court next week on charges of sexually assaulting a child.

Father Robert Charles Manning is on administrative leave from his post as pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church.

He's been arrested on charges of sexual assault on a minor by a person in a position of trust and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Manning is free on bond. He will appear before a judge on May 30.

Manning was transferred in 2007 to Colorado from St. Louis. He's served at St. Gabriel for nearly five years until news of the investigation led to a suspension in January.

The alleged incident occurred in October 2011 and involves a child between the ages of 15 and 18. No further details have been released.

"My heart goes out to that child," said SNAP member John Murphy.

SNAP stands for the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests.

Murphy said he was abused by a priest at the age of 10. He says if the allegations are true, he has little sympathy for Rev. Manning.

"I don't have the words of the loathing I feel about anyone who would take the most precious thing that a child has, it is trust, and shatter it," said Murphy.

SNAP released a statement on Tuesday that read, "Children are always safer when predators are behind bars. We're thankful that Father Manning will be kept from kids at least for a little while."

Neighbor Stewart Whitney told CBS4′s Tom Mustin that Manning lived with another priest.

"A very quiet guy, somewhat shy," said Whitney. "You hope it's not true. I guess at the same time, if it is true, justice needs to be done."

Tuesday the Diocese of Colorado Springs issued this statement which read in part, "There should be compassion and care for the alleged victim. There should be a presumption of innocence for the priest."


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