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Clergy Abuse Survivors Group SNAP Fighting to Survive

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SNAP Director David Clohessy with Barbara Dorris

SNAP Director David Clohessy with Barbara Dorris

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ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is preparing for a legal fight that could determine its own survival.

SNAP’s Executive Director — David Clohessy — continues to defy a subpoena in a Kansas City abuse case, refusing to hand over internal SNAP documents on abuse victims.  He says the showdown amounts to a test case that could have ripple effects nationwide.

“Ultimately, our fear is that we’ll face ten, or twelve or fifteen of these subpoenas in states all across the country,” Clohessy said, “The bottom line is we will either go broke, or victims and witnesses and whistle blowers and journalists will stop contacting us.”

The Kansas City Diocese says it has no intention of making any victim’s names public, but Clohessy says even allowing them to be shared with the church would violate existing law.

“The Missouri Rape Shield Law is pretty clear,” Clohessy said, “It says that services provided to, and advocacy on behalf of,  rape victims is confidential. It’s private.  It doesn’t say you have to have a building.  It doesn’t say you have to have a PhD in psychology.”

Clohessy was referring to his recent deposition in the case, in which he claims lawyers for the church argued the rape shield law doesn’t apply to SNAP, because it lacks an office.

Attorneys for the diocese declined to comment on the case.   A spokeswoman for the diocese stressed that the church wants to keep all victim’s names confidential.

“The diocese has always respected the privacy of anyone who has suffered sexual abuse,” said spokeswoman Rebecca Summers, “We don’t have any intention of publicly identifying any victim through this process.”

Summers noted that the diocese did not originally seek the documents, but had requested that it get a copy of the SNAP documents sought by an attorney representing former Kansas City diocese priest, Fr. Michael Tierney.  Tierney is accused in lawsuits of molesting multiple children.

Tierney’s attorney, Brian Madden, was unavailable for comment.

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