SNAP calls for more action in church sex abuse cases

Updated: Nov. 4, 2019 at 3:49 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered in front of Notre Dame seminary Monday with several demands. They want the list of credibly abused priests expanded and they want more statewide prosecution.

They met outside the seminary with stories that have become all too familiar.

“He put a pillow over my head to quiet me, and control me, and kill me. I don’t think he cared,” said National SNAP president Tim Lennon, talking about his own abuse in Iowa, some 40 years ago.

Members of SNAP want the Archdiocese of New Orleans to expand, a list of credibly accused clergy that was released one year ago this week. They want it expanded, from 57 names to 81, as outlined on the webisite Bishopaccountability.org.

"It wasn't good enough because most of the priests on that list were dead and statute of limitations prohibits suing anyone who is dead in civil law," said Louisiana SNAP president Kevin Bourgeois.

The archdiocese says many of the names on the Bishopaccountability.org list, includes non priests, who were members of religious orders, and not under the archdiocese. They put out a statement saying,

“Our goals as we work to address the clergy abuse crisis are to walk with victims towards healing and to work diligently through our safe environment program to prevent abuse from occurring. we continue to address and investigate allegations that are reported to us and once again pledge our full cooperation with any law enforcement investigations into criminal actions.”

In that regard, SNAP wants the attorney general to do more, as is the case in 22 other states.

"We have seen in Pennsylvania, when the attorney general, and district attorney's take responsibility that we have a true understandintg of the scope of sexual abuse of children, by the clergy," said Lennon.

While the group SNAP wants the Louisiana Attorney general to do more, snap leaders say they have been talking with the Orleans DA.

“He doesn’t care how old these priests are he wants to put them in jail,” said Bourgeois.

Sources say the Orleans D.A. has convened a grand jury to look into clergy abuse, as the office pursues child rape charges against former deacon George Brignac, who was arrested in September. But unlike other states, the attorney general of Louisiana has not launched a statewide prosecution.

Attorney General Jeff Landry has put out a phone number for anyone who may have been a victim of clergy abuse. He says he will send official referral letters to the proper law enforcement agency in the parish where each crime was allegedly committed.

The attorney general hotline number is 1-800-256-4506.

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