ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says he may faces fines or jail time for refusing to obey a judge’s order to release information on clergy abuse victims.

The usually confident, sometimes strident, David Clohessy appeared shaken and teary-eyed  by what he says is the worst legal problem the group has faced in 23 years.

“Church defense lawyers will likely ask that we be found in contempt of court and possibly fined or possibly jailed,” Clohessy said.

Earlier, Clohessy refused to cooperate during a deposition in a Kansas City area abuse case.   SNAP has sought help from the Missouri Supreme Court, but it refused to intervene.

“I refused to answer many, many many questions that were all designed to find out the identities and experiences of victims and those who help victims,” Clohessy said.

Defense lawyers wanted the documents as evidence that an attorney for an alleged victim violated a gag order by giving details of the case to SNAP.

Last week,  a Kansas City area judge ordered SNAP to turn over records that could include years of emails with victims, journalists and others.  The order is tied to a sex abuse lawsuit against the Rev. Michael Tierney and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

When asked if he is prepared to go to jail, rather than turn over documents, Clohessy said he’ll “cross that bridge when he comes to it.”

Copyright KMOX.

Comments (6)
  1. Kay Ebeling says:

    Just like judges do with priest personnel files, a judge can review SNAP files “in camera” and decide what information should not be released to prevent damage to persons involved. The same rules should apply to SNAP as apply to the Catholic Church. No secrets. Clohessy’s current intransigence on this issue makes me wonder, what is SNAP trying to hide. Read more at City of Angels 12

    1. Sickened says:

      Oh, please. SNAP is trying to protect the privacy of people whose trust has already been egregiously abused, and who may not be prepared to discuss their trauma publicly. It’s disgusting to pretend that protecting such people must be somehow suspect. Prying into e-mails in which people talk about their abuse and what they suffered, e-mails they believed would remain private, is tantamount to abusing them again. The Church is again demonstrating that it places no value on the lives or mental health of its congregants, and is prepared to sacrifice them without a second thought to protect its hierarchy and its property.

    2. Charles says:

      Kay, really? You of all people I feel would be sympathetic. Communications between those of us abused and our support people should be as private as confession. – Charles

  2. Charles L. Bailey, Jr. says:

    How crazy is this attacking SNAP like this? SNAP is a self help, peer support group at its base.
    David has been an unwavering champion of ours. He and the group have helped me to now refer to myself as a survivor and not a victim any longer. How is it that communications between a victim and their support is subject to exposure but the church can hide behind canon law, saying they don’t live under criminal or civil law? They continue to hide behind outdated statutes to cover up felony crimes just because time has passed. The felony crime was still committed. David and our other SNAP leaders give selflessly of themselves at great personal expense. To be basically ignored the protection of the court system is outrageous! SNAP can no more disclose communications between victims and those they tell than any other support group. What’s next? Rape crisis centers, women’s shelters must reveal all records? Is there no longer a safe place for those of us who have been abused? I was only a little boy of ten when raped by our “family” catholic priest that continued for over two years. What is the churches response? I need to be accountable for my part in my own abuse? Really? I need to pray for my part? I was TEN YEARS OLD. I am supposed to have accountability? SNAP is not covering up felony crimes as the church has and continues to do by hiding behind canon law and statutes. SNAP is a repository for communications about our abuse that should be protected as such.

    Charles – SNAP Leader – Syracuse, NY & Raleigh, NC

  3. Barry Crimmins says:

    Yeah, give the Nazis the roster of the French Underground. It’s only fair.

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