Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests Calls on Neronha to Launch Investigation into Diocese
October 29, 2018
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a national non-profit, has called on Democratic candidate for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha to commit to investigating the Diocese of Providence.
Alliance for Safe Communities, a Rhode Island-based organization advocating for the victims of diocesan sexual abuse, says it has reached out to former U.S. Attorney Neronha regarding his unwillingness to commit to an investigation of the Catholic Diocese sex abuse scandal.
"According to Bishop-Accountability.org, there are at least 38 priests who worked in Rhode Island who have been accused of abuse. We fear there may be more. We hope that both candidates will seriously consider the importance of this investigation, especially as they enter the final weeks of their campaign," said SNAP.
Now, in more than one dozen states across the country, attorney generals have launched investigations into the role of the respective dioceses and cover-up of abuse.
On Sunday night, CBS News magazine 60 Minutes unveiled how the clerical assistant to the Bishop of Buffalo in New York leaked thousands of documents unveiling a diocese cover-up.
“Until now, Siobhan O'Connor had carefully kept her identity secret. She is the whistleblower who leaked records from the secret archive of the Diocese of Buffalo. Siobhan O'Connor worked closely with Bishop Richard Malone as his executive assistant for three years. Last week she spoke with the FBI,” reported 60 Minutes.
“The hundreds of pages Siobhan O'Connor uncovered included personnel files and memos. They revealed that for years Bishop Malone allowed priests accused of sexual assault such as statutory rape and groping to stay on the job.”
Neronha says that he is focused on the election and is cautious to announce any actions on any subject prior to taking office if elected.
“As someone who prosecuted child sexual abuse cases as a state prosecutor and brought many cases against child sex traffickers as United States Attorney, I have seen the terrible toll that child sexual abuse takes on victims and their families. Such conduct, wherever it takes place, warrants criminal investigation,” said Neronha in a statement to GoLocalProv.com.
“If elected as Attorney General, I expect that the allegations of sexual abuse by clergy that have been publicly reported (and perhaps others) are something that I would be asked by victims to review, to the extent they are not already under review by the current Attorney General, which may or may not be the case. I would review such allegations in conjunction with the relevant law enforcement agencies, as I would any other allegation of very serious criminal misconduct,” Neronha added.
“And how I would announce publicly any action I might or might not take, and the timing of such announcement, would be guided by the same ethical and professional rules that guided me as United States Attorney, which I believe served me and the public well."
U.S. Department of Justice is Investigating
As GoLocal reported two weeks ago, the U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into alleged sexual abuse by clergy in Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic Church, according to the Washington Post.
The investigation comes after Pennsylvania’s grand jury issued a report in August that found that more than 300 Catholic priests in the state had sexually abused as many as 1,000 children over a span of seven decades.
“Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades,” the grand jury wrote in the report.
Safe Alliance Presses for Action
The victim’s group says action is needed now. “Will Rhode Island victims have received no representation, and future victims assuredly denied protection? Lack of action demonstrates a failure of our criminal justice system in Rhode Island.”
Alliance for Safe Communities also formally notified current and exiting Attorney General [Peter] Kilmartin to address these issues and received no response other than the public statements he previously made to Rhode Islander’s via "GoLocalProv’s vigilant pursuit for answers," added the group in their statement.
An exclusive poll commissioned by GoLocal and conducted Harvard’s John Della Volpe found that 89 percent of Rhode Islanders believe the Rhode Island’s Attorney General should open an investigation. Just 7 percent oppose an investigation.
The question asks:
Attorney generals in several states have begun investigating sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, opening investigations and issuing subpoenas for documents.
Do you favor or oppose the Rhode Island Attorney General opening an investigation into the Archdiocese of Providence on issues related to possible sexual abuse of children?
Net: Support 89%
Strongly Support 61%
Somewhat Support 27%
Net: Oppose 7%
Somewhat Oppose 5%
Strongly Oppose 3%
Don't Know 4%
This story was updated at 8:19 AM on October 29, 2018.