Clergy Abuse Survivors Group Has List of Demands for Youngstown Diocese and State
October 9, 2018
A group supporting clergy abuse survivors has a list of demands for the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, and on Tuesday, they stood outside one of the regional offices for the state's attorney general to make that list known.
Members of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) stood along W. Federal Plaza in Youngstown with a message to both the diocese and the state.
The cause is near and dear to SNAP Midwest Regional Leader Judy Jones.
"My brother was sexually abused by my longtime parish priest," she said.
When her mother refused to believe her own son, Jones knew she had to do something.
Now, she's traveling the state with other SNAP members with a list of demands.
The first demand is a published list of every clergy member credibly accused of sexual abuse in each diocese. The group says it's part of a victim's healing process.
"Now, somebody who has been abused and has never made it known sees that their perpetrator is exposed, is there, has been reported to the diocese," said SNAP Volunteer Australia Coordinator Steven Spaner.
Spaner says many abuse victims believe they are the only ones, which is part of the reason why they don't come forward.
The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown has agreed and says they'll release a list on Nov. 4.
"We do need to be transparent, we do need to be honest and that list has to be as current as possible," said Monsignor John Zuraw, chancellor for the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown.
But that's not enough for other SNAP volunteers, including Spaner.
"It's also a step that was forced upon them. It's not like they did this out of the goodness of their heart," he said.
SNAP wants all dioceses held accountable, which leads to their second demand...
"We want Attorney General Mike DeWine to do a grand jury investigation into every diocese in Ohio," Jones said.
It's a big task, but Jones says after seeing it done in Pennsylvania, she knows it's possible.
In response, a spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General's Office said the following:
It goes without saying that Ohio’s laws are different than Pennsylvania’s. Ohio law has no mechanism for a statewide grand jury of any kind. In Ohio, as a home-rule state, original criminal jurisdiction to initiate such investigations resides with local law enforcement. As result, the AG would need a request from a local prosecutor to empanel a special local grand jury. To date, we have never been requested by any local authority to empanel such an investigative grand jury or to open any such criminal investigation on this matter. However, our office will continue to monitor and review this issue as it continues to develop."
Still, Jones says she'll continue walking the streets of unfamiliar cities in the name of her brother until the task is done.