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.

Copyright KMOX

Comments (11)
  1. Dr. Jerry Hutchison says:

    Thank you David Clohessy for your brave stand. The church claims that it is now a safe place for kids, but we all know that without the courageous efforts of David Clohessy and SNAP, the subject of priests attacking children would have remained buried. If the church wants to safeguard children, why are they trying to kill off SNAP? Is this new legal maneuver by the church its response to SNAP’s asking the International Criminal Court to investigate the church for crimes against humanity?
    I hope that anyone concerned by this story sends a donation to SNAP to help keep it alive. The world needs SNAP to help protect children.

  2. Fitasafiddle says:

    “The diocese has always respected the privacy of anyone who has suffered sexual abuse,” said spokeswoman Rebecca Summers.

    Really? Was the Diocese of Bishop Finn respecting the privacy of all the children photographed and distributed by Father Ratigan on the internet? Did Finn put a stop to it right away?

    Does Bishop Finn give a hoot about Tierney’s victims? Or Ratigan’s? Why doesn’t Bishop Finn stop this madness against SNAP? Does it behoove Finn and his ilk to prevent child victims of priests from having a place to turn?

    SNAP continues in the work for all of us, the least among us and those who care. They want priest predators exposed. Finn and his lawyers want them protected, the victims exposed.

    Please make a donation to Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

  3. Judy Block-Jones says:

    We will not shut up, survivor voices are more powerful and stronger than ever because they are exposing their truth, which is helping to protect kids today.

    To the victims who suffer from child sex abuse, you have more power than you sometimes believe. You are the ones who know the truth and you can help to stop this horrific abuse of power. We/SNAP are not stopping, and hopefully those who have knowledge, suspect, witnessed, or have been harmed will continue to speak up and contact the police.

    Keep in mind your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511
    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” and all clergy.

  4. Neil Allen says:

    Is anyone more heartless and gutless than the Catholic church? They raped thousands and thousands of children in the US alone. Then they lied. Then they discredited the victims.

    Now they fight the victims.

    If you suport the Catholic church, God will send you to hell with all of the bishops.

  5. Patrick O says:

    The Catholic church fights the victims, and supports the rapists.

    In St Louis, Fr Larson raped at least 17 boys, and at least FIVE of his victims committed suicide in their twenties. He has new retired and lives for free at the St. John Vianney Center, courtesy of the Catholic church contributions.

    Catholics, on your judgement day, God will ask you what you did.

  6. FormerSnapSupporter says:

    Why did David Clohessy not admit that his brother, a CATHOLIC PRIEST, who was indicted for child abuse and pedophilia, was tipped off by SNAP before the allegations were made public so that his brother the PERPETRATOR PRIEST could get OUT OF TOWN and ESCAPE CHARGES and NEVER BE BROUGHT TO TRIAL? Why is DAVID CLOHESSY’s SNAP’s budget for victim support for 2010-2011 only $ 589.00 for the entire year when they take in per $ 500,000 in donations? Where did the rest of the money go? Why did CHARITY WATCH give SNAP a C- or D RATING? Because CLOHESSY pockets the MONEY! SO MUCH FOR VICTIM SUPPORT!

  7. Elizabeth Sarfaty says:

    David, who is this self proclaimed “FormerSnapSupporter” character who is
    challenging you to be distracted by his accusations here? No friend to Jesus, I’d guess! All this is irritating, yet I know you won’t let any “dust” get in your way
    just because THEY can’t seem to understand the need that children have; have
    courage my friend! And you do all have good friends among yourselves, I am assuming – within your own “beloved community”. Trying times! A check is in the mail! Love/peace, Elizabeth/ Malone, NY

  8. Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh says:

    I am a Catholic physician and I have met many who have been sexually abused by priests. I have great respect for the work that David Clohessy, Barbara Blaine, Barbara Dorris and others are doing in the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests(SNAP). The focus of SNAP is to protect children and vulnerable adults from clergy sexual abuse, and to make predator clergy accountable for their criminal actions. It amazes me that Pope Benedict XVI has not admitted his role in allowing priest sexual abuse to flourish worldwide, from the time that he was head of the office of faith and morals for 24 years, and then as Pope since 2005. Maybe the lawyers of the bishops are really protecting the bishops from accountability, with their games against SNAP and the victims of clergy sexual abuse. Neither the Pope nor the bishops seem to have the courage to be accountable and to make the predator clergy accountable for the criminal acts against innocent children and vulnerable adults. Worldwide clergy sexual abuse is of much greater consequence, in my view, than the sexual abuse at Penn State. When will the Pope and bishops get the courage to rid the priesthood of predator priests? When will the Pope and bishops become Good Shepherds and see the victims of clergy abuse for what they are, people who have lost the ability to trust anyone, since clergy have so seriously abused their trust?
    Sincerely, Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh, Chicago, Illinois

  9. stlmom4 says:

    Thank you to SNAP for all they’ve done and continue to do; without them, this would’ve continued to be covered up. Shame on the Catholic Church, my church, for attacking those who have helped victims and got the perpetrators exposed. The Church keeps claiming how sorry they are that people abused their position and individuals while seeking to silence those that are actually doing something about it.

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