DA: I’m not ‘fishing’

DA: I’m not ‘fishing’

source : http://www.nj.com/news/expresstimes/pa/ind…75177220600.xml

Lehigh County will not investigate diocese over accusations, despite group’s wishes.
Friday, May 13, 2005
By JOHN ZUKOWSKI
The Express-Times
Lehigh County District Attorney James B. Martin rejected a request Thursday by a clergy abuse survivors group to investigate the Allentown Diocese.

Members of the Lehigh County chapter of SNAP — Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — asked Martin to launch a grand jury investigation into what the group called an “alleged criminal conspiracy” at the Allentown Diocese.

Martin said a grand jury is only properly empanelled when there’s a reasonable possibility of crime. He said he had no evidence of criminal activity at the diocese.

“Therefore I have no present intention to ask a grand jury to investigate,” Martin said in a statement. “I have a duty to only proceed in good faith. It would be improper to use the grand jury for a ‘fishing expedition.’ ”

Martin said he’s already investigated allegations of priest abuse at the Allentown Diocese.

In May 2002, Martin announced there were no diocese-related prosecutable cases in Lehigh County. He said he knew of no others since that time. He also advised SNAP members to report any current evidence of criminal activity and then action would follow.

But SNAP members said Martin’s office should conduct an investigation similar to what Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham did. Abraham launched a grand jury probe into the Philadelphia Archdiocese that has lasted more than two years.

“What Lynne Abraham can do Jim Martin can do,” said SNAP co-director Tammy Lerner.

Hours before Martin announced his decision against the investigation, Lerner and other local SNAP members held a news conference in front of the Lehigh County Courthouse in Allentown.

They wanted a grand jury investigation by the district attorney’s office and the Allentown Diocese to publicly release the names of clergy who admitted or have been justifiably accused of abusing children.

Lehigh Valley SNAP co-director Juliann Bortz said it’s important for names of pedophile priests to be made public.

“It helps the victim a lot to see the name of the perpetrator made public,” she said.

Some names of abusers haven’t been made public because statute of limitations laws prevent pedophiles from being prosecuted, they said.

SNAP members said the Catholic Church was under a moral responsibility to release the names of priests even if those laws prevented pedophile priests from being prosecuted.

“If perpetrators have admitted doing it then the public should know who they are,” Lerner said. “It’s not just a Catholic issue but a public safety issue.”

SNAP members said they were partly provoked to make the request because of a report last week that the Allentown Diocese was sending priests who abused children to Orwigsburg, Pa., for “prayer and penance” at the Schuylkill County facility.

“There was one thing missing in that report, and that was the names of the priests being sent there,” Lerner said.

Allentown Diocese spokesman Matt Kerr said the diocese has shared the names and files of priests accused of sexual abuse with the district attorneys’ offices in the five counties the diocese covers. The diocese has also forwarded allegations made against priests to authorities.

However, the diocese won’t release those names publicly “unless that person is to be prosecuted because there would be no opportunity for that person to clear his or her name,” Kerr said in a statement.

SNAP National Executive Director David Clohessy estimated that between six and eight Catholic dioceses have released names of pedophile priests even when they weren’t legally required to do so, including the Baltimore and Milwaukee archdioceses.

He said getting dioceses to release names of nonprosecutable pedophile priests is one of the biggest obstacles the group faces.

“All we can do is appeal to the consciences of bishops and to public support,” he said. “But the bishops have so much power. It’s like having speed limits with no cops. It doesn’t matter what they say if there’s nobody there to enforce things.”

Local SNAP members said they too would continue appealing to the public.

“We’re going to continue to put pressure on the Catholic Church to make names of pedophile priests public,” Lerner said.

DA: I’m not ‘fishing’

DA: I’m not ‘fishing’

source : http://www.nj.com/news/expresstimes/pa/ind…75177220600.xml

Lehigh County will not investigate diocese over accusations, despite group’s wishes.
Friday, May 13, 2005
By JOHN ZUKOWSKI
The Express-Times
Lehigh County District Attorney James B. Martin rejected a request Thursday by a clergy abuse survivors group to investigate the Allentown Diocese.

Members of the Lehigh County chapter of SNAP — Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — asked Martin to launch a grand jury investigation into what the group called an “alleged criminal conspiracy” at the Allentown Diocese.

Martin said a grand jury is only properly empanelled when there’s a reasonable possibility of crime. He said he had no evidence of criminal activity at the diocese.

“Therefore I have no present intention to ask a grand jury to investigate,” Martin said in a statement. “I have a duty to only proceed in good faith. It would be improper to use the grand jury for a ‘fishing expedition.’ ”

Martin said he’s already investigated allegations of priest abuse at the Allentown Diocese.

In May 2002, Martin announced there were no diocese-related prosecutable cases in Lehigh County. He said he knew of no others since that time. He also advised SNAP members to report any current evidence of criminal activity and then action would follow.

But SNAP members said Martin’s office should conduct an investigation similar to what Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham did. Abraham launched a grand jury probe into the Philadelphia Archdiocese that has lasted more than two years.

“What Lynne Abraham can do Jim Martin can do,” said SNAP co-director Tammy Lerner.

Hours before Martin announced his decision against the investigation, Lerner and other local SNAP members held a news conference in front of the Lehigh County Courthouse in Allentown.

They wanted a grand jury investigation by the district attorney’s office and the Allentown Diocese to publicly release the names of clergy who admitted or have been justifiably accused of abusing children.

Lehigh Valley SNAP co-director Juliann Bortz said it’s important for names of pedophile priests to be made public.

“It helps the victim a lot to see the name of the perpetrator made public,” she said.

Some names of abusers haven’t been made public because statute of limitations laws prevent pedophiles from being prosecuted, they said.

SNAP members said the Catholic Church was under a moral responsibility to release the names of priests even if those laws prevented pedophile priests from being prosecuted.

“If perpetrators have admitted doing it then the public should know who they are,” Lerner said. “It’s not just a Catholic issue but a public safety issue.”

SNAP members said they were partly provoked to make the request because of a report last week that the Allentown Diocese was sending priests who abused children to Orwigsburg, Pa., for “prayer and penance” at the Schuylkill County facility.

“There was one thing missing in that report, and that was the names of the priests being sent there,” Lerner said.

Allentown Diocese spokesman Matt Kerr said the diocese has shared the names and files of priests accused of sexual abuse with the district attorneys’ offices in the five counties the diocese covers. The diocese has also forwarded allegations made against priests to authorities.

However, the diocese won’t release those names publicly “unless that person is to be prosecuted because there would be no opportunity for that person to clear his or her name,” Kerr said in a statement.

SNAP National Executive Director David Clohessy estimated that between six and eight Catholic dioceses have released names of pedophile priests even when they weren’t legally required to do so, including the Baltimore and Milwaukee archdioceses.

He said getting dioceses to release names of nonprosecutable pedophile priests is one of the biggest obstacles the group faces.

“All we can do is appeal to the consciences of bishops and to public support,” he said. “But the bishops have so much power. It’s like having speed limits with no cops. It doesn’t matter what they say if there’s nobody there to enforce things.”

Local SNAP members said they too would continue appealing to the public.

“We’re going to continue to put pressure on the Catholic Church to make names of pedophile priests public,” Lerner said.

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