Victims urge archbishop to withdraw challenge
By David Clohessy
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
September 17, 2014
He's trying to overturn “great” child safety law, they say SNAP to prelate: “Stop protecting predators & hurting kids” Group urges him to drop appeal before state Supreme Court Hearing is set for Sept. 22 in pedophile priest/cover up lawsuit They prod Catholic officials to post names of child molesting clerics
WHAT Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will –blast Hartford's Catholic archbishop for trying to overturn a state law that protects kids and exposes predators, –reverse himself and drop his appeal to the state's highest court, and –safeguard children by posting predator priests' names on parish and archdiocesan websites.
WHEN Thursday, Sept. 18 at 1:00 p.m.
WHERE Outside the Supreme Court building, 231 Capitol Avenue (corner of Lafayette St.) in Hartford CT
WHO Eight-ten men and women who are abuse victims and members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including an Ohio woman who exposed clergy sex crimes and cover ups by Hartford's archbishop when he headed the Toledo diocese for a decade (2003-2013)
WHY Hartford's Catholic archbishop is asking the Connecticut Supreme Court to make it much harder for victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to protect children, inside and outside of the church. He wants the justices to toss out a widely-praised 12 year old state law that gives victims more time to expose those who commit and conceal child sex crimes through civil litigation.
In 2002, Connecticut lawmakers extended the statute of limitations, letting child sex abuse victims to take legal action against their predators and employers who shield them until they turn 48 years of age. (Since 2002, lawmakers have extended it even further.)
Archbishop Leonard Blair - and his predecessor Archbishop Henry Mansell - claim that the statute was unconstitutional, based on the 'due process' clause of the state constitution.
“Two months ago, Pope Francis said the church should 'make reparations” to victims and “All bishops must (exercise) the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors,'” said David Clohessy, director of SNAP. “But Blair is doing the reverse. And worse, if he wins, he'll be enabling child molesters in all settings to remain under the radar and keep sexually assaulting kids.”
In 2012, a jury found Hartford Archdiocese officials negligent and reckless in handling abuse reports against Fr. Ivan Ferguson and awarded a victim a $1 million judgment (which includes $300,000 in punitive damages). Fr. Ferguson admitted his crimes. But Blair also wants to overturn this verdict.
Fr. Ferguson has been accused before. In 1993, three men filed civil abuse and cover up lawsuits charging that they were molested by Fr. Ferguson in the1970s and that archdiocesan staff could and should have prevented the crimes.
Two were settled. In 2002, Ferguson was still a priest but had no ministerial or teaching duties. At least two cases against Ferguson were included in a 2005 $14 million settlement with Archdiocese involving 14 predator priests. At least five other cases against Fr. Ferguson have been filed since then.
From 1985 to 1993, Ferguson worked as a chaplain at Hartford Hospital. He is now deceased.2002
During his ten years as head of an Ohio diocese, SNAP charges that Blair similarly fought against statue of limitations reform there.
Finally, SNAP is urging Blair to post on his archdiocesan website the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of the 33 publicly accused child molesting clerics who are or have been in the Hartford Archdiocese. Roughly 30 US bishops (including Bridgeport's) have done this. In SNAP's view, this is “the bare minimum” Catholic officials should do.
“Since bishops recruited, educated, ordained, hired, trained and transferred thousands of predator priests, the least they can do – to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded- is disclose who and where these offenders are,” said Clohessy.
The victim is represented by New Haven attorneys Tom McNamara (203 782 9241, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Hugh Hughes (203 683 1772). Over the past 22 years, McNamara has handled dozens of child sex abuse and cover up cases. The archdiocese is represented by John W. Sitarz (860 527 1141) and Wesley Horton (860 522 8338).
CONTACT David Clohessy 314 566 9790, email@example.com, Claudia Vercellotti 419 345 9291, SNAPtoledo@gmail.com, Beth McCabe 860 335 8187 firstname.lastname@example.org, Jim Hackett 203 710 0968 SNAPct@cotse.net