Monthly Archives: May 2011

Repugnance and Tattling

I was struck by two stories today:  A priest with porn and a survivor tackling tattling

The first shows the true fallacy that is the John Jay Report. Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese officials knew they had a priest in possession of tons of child abuse images (child porn) when an IT specialist found the images and told the diocese in December 2010.  Diocese officials made a copy of the photos (???) and then kept quiet for 6 months.  Now, they say they are “deeply saddened.”  I think they are just sad they got busted.

The second was Joelle Casteix’s post today about how we inadvertently train our children to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing.  I can’t help but think that it was the Catholic Church who first told people that tattling was wrong.


Filed under Uncategorized

Survivor Meeting in Rome this Weekend

If you will be in town, I encourage you to attend.  There will be English-speaking survivors there.

Click here for more info:

roma 21 maggio 2011

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SNAP talks John Jay

A great take on the document released today by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice …

Statement by David Clohessy, Executive Director of SNAP 314 566 9790 []

Four fallacies in new bishop’s abuse report – SNAP responds

Predictably and conveniently, the bishops have funded a report that tells them precisely what they want to hear: it was all unforeseeable, long ago, wasn’t that bad and wasn’t their fault. It gives bishops even more reasons to do avoid what they desperately want to avoid: questioning celibacy, married priests, secular laws, serious reforms or their own virtually limitless power as kings in a medieval monarchy. Here are four of the most crucial fallacies in the document:

–The crisis is and was unforeseeable, the report claims, because child molesters don’t have forked tongues or devil tails and can’t be easily detected. Fair enough. But the report essentially dodges the crucial question: Why don’t bishops quickly out and oust child molesting clerics the first time they sexually assault a child? (And why then, if predators can’t be spotted in advance, do bishops tout their alleged seminary “screening” processes as panaceas?)

–The crisis was long ago, the report claims, because the bishops say so. Never mind the fact that only a handful of five and ten year olds march down to the police station and promptly report their own victimization, so it’s dreadfully misleading and dangerous to assume clergy sex crimes have gone down in recent years.

–The crisis isn’t all that bad, the report suggests, because many of the kids who are or were violated had experienced puberty. Never mind the fact that child sex crimes, no matter at what age, are always illegal, immoral and hurtful. So the hair-splitting between pedophiles and ephebophiles (a distinction that seems to matter to few besides bishops) is, for the most part, at best irrelevant and at worst distracting.

–Most important, the crisis isn’t the bishops’ fault, the document implies. It was what the New York Times calls the “Blame Woodstock” defense. At best, this is naïve. At worst, it’s deceptive. There are at least three reasons why it may appear to some that abuse ‘peaked’ in the 60s and 70s. The first is that victims during those years are old, strong, smart, healthy and desperate enough to finally be able to report their horrific pain. The second is that bishops are much more willing to disclose clergy sex crimes that are beyond the reach of the criminal and civil justice system than more recent clergy sex crimes that could result in prosecution and litigation and embarrassment. And bishops are more willing to acknowledge child felonies committed under their predecessors than themselves.

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the bishops’ ‘take-away’ here is: “We don’t have to change a thing.” Thankfully, most people realize that’s nonsense. Most people understand that a feudal system lacking any ‘checks and balances’ is inherently unhealthy and that a culture premised on sexual abstinence and secrecy and self-perpetuation is inherently problematic. Finally, David Gibson writes that the apparent jump in abuse cases in the 1960s and 1970s, the authors found, was essentially due to emotionally ill-equipped priests who were trained in earlier years and lost their way in the social cataclysm of the sexual revolution.” Lost their way? Please!

The writing on the wall seems clear: We fear that bishops are going backwards and laying the groundwork to recycle and restore proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics to ministry. Because, if those child sex offenders merely “lost their way,” they can clearly be “rehabilitated,” right? Countless times over the past decade, bishops have claimed “We used to be naïve about abuse. Now we understand it better.” But if that’s the case, how can they, or anyone, attribute heinous, repeated sexual assaults on innocent, vulnerable kids as some priests “losing their way.”

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is Contact – David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell,, Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,, Peter Isely (414-429-7259,, Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, []).

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Let’s Have A Chat About Perpetrator Treatment Centers and Medical Records

I was honored when I was asked to present at next week’s Law and Religion Scholars Network Conference at Cardiff University School of Law in Wales.   The Center for Law and Religion, a think tank based at the school, has hosted some of the world’s leading scholars on the rapidly intertwining subjects of law, religious organizations and sexual abuse.

They tapped me to speak about a long-running and fascinating topic in my case load: medical records of clerics who have been accused of sexually abusing children.  I’ll also discuss Catholic Church-run perpetrator treatment centers on the European continent and the new facility imported from the United States Catholic Bishops: The Saint Luke Institute.

Some of the issues I’ll cover:

  • What are abuse victims’ legal rights regarding clerics’ medical records from church-run treatment facilities?
  • The church’s notion of “good name” versus the public need for safety and child protection, and
  • Recent legal developments regarding the medical records of clerics who have been accused of the sexual abuse of minors.

Then I’ll address some recent church practices, including:

  • What have bishops or their staff done upon discovering a cleric has been sent to a medical facility?
  • What do they do when they discover medical records for perpetrator treatment in a cleric’s personnel file?
  • When a bishop or his staff comes to the conclusion that a cleric would benefit from psychological assessment or a leave of absence to attend an in-house treatment program, how are clerics convinced to go?
  • After a cleric has been sent for assessment and/or residential treatment, how do bishops handle the medical records? How do they determine who owns the records?  How do they view doctor/patient privacy? How do they keep the records out of the reach of prosecutors?

If you find yourself in Wales next week, be sure to drop by.


Filed under Uncategorized

California Round-Up

Joelle Casteix has put together a pretty thorough update on the status of the scandal here in California.  It’s a shame that it doesn’t get more coverage than it does.  Read her full post here

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized