The article states that those e-mails could include correspondence with clergy abuse victims, witnesses, journalists, and stakeholders. A Kansas City judge ruled that SNAP must comply because it likely has information of relevance to the abuse cases. SNAP has been subpoenaed five times in St. Louis and Kansas City over the past few months, and national director David Clohessy has been extensively questioned by lawyers.
The SNAP website hit back, decrying the legal pressure as an "attack" from Catholic officials and an affront to the confidentiality of their allies.
"Abuse victims and SNAP are being attacked by lawyers for KC Bishop Robert Finn and pedophile priests. We're fighting hard to protect the confidentiality of victims, witnesses, whistleblowers, police, prosecutors, journalists and others who come to us for help."A statement at the SNAP website argued that the legal pressure could dissuade clergy abuse victims from seeking aid, siphon SNAP's resources away from helping victims, and financially cripple the organization.
"This is the most severe threat we in SNAP have ever faced, for at least three reasons. First, fewer people are stepping forward and seeking help, fearing that their identities and experiences will be turned over to lawyers for predator priests and corrupt bishops. Second, these legal attacks consume massive amounts of time that our volunteers and staff need to devote to protecting kids, exposing predators, helping victims, reforming laws, and deterring future child sex crimes and cover ups. Third, these moves are driving SNAP toward bankruptcy. (We've had to suddenly spend tens of thousands of dollars just fighting and dealing with the first subpoena and church officials seem determined to drag out this process for months and months.)"The statement asserted that SNAP is "convinced" that the move is intended to shut down the organization, silence victims, and deter victims and stakeholders from reaching out. SNAP has since created an online petition urging Cardinal Dolan to publicly denounce such "bullying tactics."
Predictably, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights president Bill Donohue blasted SNAP this week in several commentaries. In one column, Donohue claimed that SNAP director David Clohessy had been "uncooperative" in earlier deposition. He asked if Clohessy was a man fighting for justice, or a "con artist" burning for revenge. (See www[dot]catholicleague[dot]org/snap-unravels/) In a March 14th post, Donohue accused Clohessy of lying to the media, misrepresenting SNAP as a "rape crisis center," and misleading clients. He wrote that it is only fair that bishops defend themselves when a group tries to "bleed" the Catholic Church. (See www[dot]catholicleague[dot]org/bishops-should-only-hire-tough-lawyers/)
I'm certain that SNAP will fight this legal maneuver with every means at their disposal, but the outcome remains to be seen. I'm also certain that this legal maneuver will cast the involved diocese, and the Catholic Church in general, in an even more negative light in the public eye. If nothing else, the coverage that this matter has received will draw even more attention to the Catholic clergy abuse crisis, and the lengths that some church officials will go to in order to protect accused priests.
For additional commentary, visit the following links.
Lez Get Real: Desperate Catholic Church Targets Victims Of Pedophile Priests
Care 2 Make a Difference: Catholics Fight Church’s Victims – Again
Truth Wins Out: Catholic Church Bullying Group Which Advocates for Sexual Abuse Victims