Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan should harshly, publicly and immediately denounce his Long Island colleague who is endangering kids by keeping a twice-accused predator priest on the job.
Dolan, as the “metropolitan” bishop over all of New York, has a duty to speak up loudly and clearly when church officials anywhere in New York jeopardize the safety of youngsters. That’s what’s happening now in the Rockville Centre diocese under Bishop William Murphy with Fr. Gregory Yacyshyn.
We know of just one other priest, Fr. Alex Anderson of St. Louis, who is still in a parish despite multiple accusers. (Three men say he molested them but only one has sued).
However, we have learned recently that two US priests who are convicted sex offenders are being put back on the job, Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul and Fr. Jose Alexis Davila.
Bishop Murphy was one of disgraced Boston Cardinal Bernard Law’s top deputies. He’s acting just like his mentor. Again, for the safety of kids, at a bare minimum, Murphy should suspend Fr. Gregory and aggressively seek out others he may have hurt.
Are false allegations against priests possible? Sure. Are both of these accusers, and their parents, and the most experienced clergy sex abuse attorneys in the US all wrong? Nope.
But we urge parishioners to check out independent sources, like BishopAccountability.org, which finds that “Fewer than 2 percent of sexual abuse allegations against the Catholic church appear to be false” and the dean of a Catholic law school who said that he had defended Catholic dioceses against more than 500 sexual-abuse lawsuits in more than 500 cases and had concluded that ‘fewer than 10’ of those cases were based on false accusations.”
A 2004 report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and written by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice which analyzed 5,681 diocesan investigations of abuse allegations in 1950-2002 and concluded that 1.5% were deemed false.
Even Catholic officials admit this. The first head of the Office for Child and Youth Protection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has summarized the findings on false allegations: “False reporting of sexual abuse by children is very rare.”
We applaud the brave youngsters who are exposing a dangerous priest and his complicit colleagues. We hope others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups on Long Island will step forward and call independent sources of help, like police, prosecutors, therapists or support groups like ours.
And while the criminal and civil justice system deals with Fr. Gregory and Bishop Murphy, Cardinal Dolan must show courage and leadership here. He must use his bully pulpit and massive influence to expose Murphy’s recklessness and deter similar recklessness among other Catholic officials.
Bishops often talk of “the dignity of every person.” But deep down, many of them are convinced that they really are better than the rest of us, which is why many of them almost compulsively say and do nothing when their brother bishops commit, conceal or enable child sex crimes.
In November 2002, US bishops pledged to “fraternally correct” their colleagues who mishandled clergy sex abuse cases. But virtually without exception, they have refused to do so. For the safety of children. Dolan should break this unhealthy inaction in the Fr. Gregory case.
No matter what law enforcement or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.