On January 2, David Clohessy
-- director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)
-- sat down with lawyers representing Catholic priests.
It was not to chat over tea.
The attorneys deposed Clohessy for over six hours as part of a lawsuit that a anonymous victim has brought against Fr. Michael Tierney
, a priest in Kansas City.
But many of the questions had rather little to do with Tierney or other priests accused of sexual abuse in Kansas City
. Instead, they had a lot to do with how SNAP operates, and appeared to be an attempt to establish that SNAP is not a rape crisis center under state law
That's crucial because the non-profit is now claiming
rape-crisis-center status to shield itself from subpoenas that seek communications with victims.
Clohessy said under oath that he didn't know "under the Missouri statutes exactly what constitutes a rape crisis center."
Here's what the statute says:
any public or private agency that offers assistance to victims of sexual assault.
That's pretty vague. Still, the accused priests' attorneys appeared to be trying to somehow chip away at SNAP's eligibility by asking, for example, whether Clohessy had any advanced degrees in counseling (he did not) and whether the non-profit pays third-party counselors to assist victims (he didn't know).
Below are some other interesting bits from the depo.
(Having once reported a clergy sex abuse story
, this Daily RFT
reporter knows some of the accusations that area Catholics make about SNAP; thus it was interesting to see Clohessy confronted by these accusations during sworn testimony -- and this was indeed the first time in 23 years that any SNAP member had to sit for a deposition, Clohessy tells us). On whether SNAP refers victims to attorneys:
Q. Does SNAP have any agreements with attorneys regarding referral of victims to those attorneys?On repressed memory:
A. Can I say I'm offended at the question?
[Clohessy's attorney]: You just answer it.
A. No, we don't.
Q. What counseling or instructions does SNAP provide to sexual abuse victims, if any, regarding the issue of repressed memory?On SNAP's relentless pressure on the Catholic Church:
A. Okay. I am -- I'm going to be as polite as I can but I am deeply offended.... We provide no instructions to anybody about repressed memory.
Q. Has SNAP ever issued a single press release commending the [United States Conference on Catholic Bishops] or any diocese or archdiocese for taking even a single positive step?
A. Yes, we have. Let's see. Where to start. We praised the diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, a bishop there I want to say in 2003. We often include the phrase: We are grateful that the bishop has suspended Father X or Father Y. We often say we are glad that the Vatican has defrocked Father X or Father Y....
We praised a bishop in the case of Father Henry Willenborg in Wisconsin who refused to do the hair-splitting and excuse-making and do nothing when Father Willenborg was credibly accused of molesting a child and sexually exploiting an adult vulnerable Catholic parishioner and impregnating her and then ignoring her child and refusing to support the child.
We've praised Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, formerly of Atlanta, several times, any number of times frankly. I could go on and on.
Read the full depo by clicking here