Catholic Church now trying to silence victims’ support group
The New York Times reported last week that attorneys for the church have subpoenaed records from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known to most people as SNAP, as part of sex abuse lawsuits in St. Louis and Kansas City. The subpoenas demand e-mail records and, in some cases, testimony — even though SNAP isn’t directly involved in the suits.
The church demanded 23 years of SNAP’s communication with victims, though the victim in the suit is only 19. They’ve wasted hundreds of hours of staff time and cost SNAP $50,000. Now, SNAP is begging lawyers to work pro bono.
William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, outlined the strategy to the Times: “SNAP is a menace to the Catholic Church,” he said. “There’s a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better … buy some good lawyers and get tough.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops denied turning up the heat, but the Missouri strategy is clear: Make victims afraid to talk to SNAP and bury them under legal fees — the tactic corporations such as tobacco firms use to silence smaller opponents: Intimidate, outspend.
For decades, the Catholic hierarchy — behind the backs of its innocent clergy and millions of parishioners — used intimidation and secrecy to hide accusations that priests molested children. Now, it’s using the same tactics to silence a group that gives aid and comfort to the priests’ victims. [more]