Peter Isely of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests cited a study for the U.S. Conference of Bishops saying the La Crosse Diocese sided with priests over victims in 64% of cases, compared with the national average of just under 10%.If only Father James Connell read the newspaper, or its website.
In his open letter on clerical abuse case handling, Father Connell says (page 5)
Last November 30 when I first met with Peter Isely and John Pilmaier, two representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an interesting statistic came to light. A brief moment in this conversation included a comment by Peter Isely that, while not knowing much about the newly appointed Archbishop Listecki, approximately 60% of the allegations against priests in the Diocese of La Crosse were held to be unfounded or unsubstantiated. Then, on March 24, 2010 when I was meeting with Archbishop Listecki about my Diocese of La Crosse concern, the Archbishop made a passing reference to 60% of the cases being unsubstantiated. When Archbishop Listecki and Peter Isely mention the same statistic, I take note.This was more than four months after both these statistics were in the Milwaukee daily's report of the appointment of a new archbishop.
Later, I noticed in the 2009 Annual Report published by the Office for Child and Youth Protection (OCYP) of the USCCB, in Chapter Four, on page 40, a chart produced by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate that shows credible vs. unsubstantiated allegations for 2006-2009. This chart indicates that, as a national average, approximately 10% of the allegations during this time period were ruled unsubstantiated, while approximately 90% were considered credible. Immediately I recalled the comments regarding 60%.
For that matter, it is too bad that at that November 30th meeting Father Connell didn't think to ask any follow-up questions on that La Crosse 60%, and that the SNAP representative did not think to offer background they had. Like this at WKMT, January 7, 2009, Victims' Rights Group Wants Answers from La Crosse Diocese.
"This lawsuit is really an opportunity to re-open the books about all these past reports," says Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director. "In 2004, (the La Crosse Diocese) said 28 priests were accused of raping children, but only 10 of them were considered founded."Or this at WIZM January 7, 2009 Priest Abuse Suit.
Spokesman Peter Isley from the victims' rights group SNAP claims most accusations against priests were dismissed or mis-handled by former La Crosse Bishop Raymond Burke. who allegedly ruled in favor of the priests more often than for the victims. Isley believes the local church policies toward abuse have not changed since Burke left the diocese five years ago.Or from this November 14, 2009 SNAP Press Release.
64 percent of accused priest left in ministry in La Crosse as opposed to under 10 percent nationwideIf only the SNAP representatives had taken the opportunity to provide all this information to Father Connell, he no doubt would have raised it with Archbishop Listecki immediately, rather than having a conversation with him over four months later that piqued his curiosity about the national statistic.
And even with no one from SNAP thinking to mention that 10% national rate to Father Connell, it's too bad that he did not think back on his own experience. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel October 13, 2009 report Group seeks priest's removal from abuse review board that lead to his meeting with SNAP representatives included this.
Then-Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan formed the review board in 2003 in response to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Dallas Charter, which spells out its procedures for addressing clergy sex abuse of minors.If only Father Connell had contrasted Milwaukee's 4% rate with La Crosse's 64%, he might then have wondered what the national rate was, advancing the his timeline on what he eventually concluded was "a situation calling for immediate corrective attention."
Since then, it has reviewed two dozen cases brought to it by the archdiocese, according to one member. And all but one ended with the priest being removed from ministry because the allegations were found to be credible.
The Rev. Donald Hands, an Episcopal priest who sits on the board, said Connell voted to remove each of those priests.