Victims blast Altoona Catholic officials
Bishop should fire a nun and his abuse advisors
Grand jury showed “victims advocate” is a sham
SNAP: “Saying ‘sorry’ is wrong without clear changes”
Group wants outreach about “sadistic yet ignored teacher”
And victims say Bartchak’s letter on Sunday was “pure public relations”
Holding signs and childhood photos, clergy sex abuse survivors and their supporters will demand that Altoona’s Catholic bishop
–fire a nun and his abuse panel,
–work with the Attorney General to pick replacements, and
–disclose more about a high school librarian who is named in last week’s grand jury report – but has been ignored by news media even though he downloaded “hundreds of pages of violent child rape stories and chats” and was on the job for eight years.
They will also urge the bishop to
–move quickly in posting predators’ name on his diocesan and church websites,
–include their photos, whereabouts and work histories, and
And the group will urge any who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups in Altoona to come forward now to secular authorities, not church officials.
Tuesday, March 7 at 1____ p.m.
On the sidewalk outside the Altoona-Johnstown diocese headquarters, 927 S. Logan Blvd. (corner of Hawthorne St.) in Hollidaysburg, PA
Two to three members of a support group called SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), including a Pittsburgh woman who is the organization’s local volunteer director
1) Last week, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General released a scathing grand jury report that concludes “nothing has changed” in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese regarding child sex crimes and cover ups. The report was particularly critical of how Catholic officials deal now with abuse reports, saying there is “no privacy or confidentiality” for victims and that an abuse “review board” is not “unbiased or neutral” and was, in fact, set up to “convince the public that the days of a mysterious bishop deciding how to handle a scandalous report of child molestation and sodomy were over,” but “in reality, the bishop still makes the decision.”
The jurors also found that the work of a so-called “victims advocate” does not, in fact, “remotely resemble advocacy” but instead is “fact-finding” for church defense lawyers, and that victims’ information “is forwarded to lawyers whose interest is solely in protecting the diocese.”
SNAP wants Bishop Mark Bartchak to fire the nun who is the purported “victims advocate” and every member of the board, especially, Fr. Joseph Byrnes, a board member who “pled the Fifth” and refused to answer questions from the grand jury. (Staff and board members include Sister Donna Marie Leiden, Colleen Krug, D.J. Bragonier, Fr. Joseph W. Fleming, Dr. Russell Miller and Dr. Mary O’Leary Wiley.) http://www.ajdiocese.org/children-and-youth
2) The group wants Bartchak to voluntarily work with Attorney General’s office staff to choose replacements.
3) SNAP also wants Bartchack to reveal more about Mark Powdermaker who, as librarian at Bishop Guilfoyle High School, used school computers to “download graphic stories of rape and torture” of girls and “actively discuss” on “chat logs” his “desire to sexually assault and torture a child with other men on line.” Even though investigators found “hundreds of pages of his violent child rape stories and chats” in diocesan offices and jurors concluded that school and diocesan staff “helped him keep his secret” and Powdermaker “spent eight years (1994-2002) amongst the teenage girls he dreamed of raping.” (pages 140-141)
4) Even though the grand jury noted that Bartchak’s “power is nearly absolute,” it said that the “purge of predators is taking too long.” SNAP feels the same way about Bartchack’s pledge to post predators’ names on church websites. The group wants him to provide details and to make sure the information is posted on parish websites too, not just the diocesan website.
5) SNAP is also very critical of a three-page letter Bartchak had read in Altoona area parishes this weekend that repeatedly stressed “mercy” (ten times), “sin” (nine times) and “reconciliation (three times), but not once mentioned the words “crime”, abuse, molestation or cover up and announced not one single reform and contained no plea for victims, witnesses or whistleblowers to come forward.
“The letter repeatedly begged Catholics not to leave the church but said nothing that might make kids safer, expose more predators, unearth more cover ups or deter future recklessness, callousness and deceit,” said SNAP’s Judy Jones.
6) Finally, for all the “tragedy and evil” in the 115,042 pages of diocesan abuse records, the grand jury said Bishop Mark Bartchak and his predecessor Bishop Joseph Adamec had one “brief conversation on the subject (of abuse),” “no detailed briefing,” and Bartchak was “unaware of the number of historical predators in the diocese when he appeared before the grand jury.
SNAP believes this was a deliberately self-serving move by Bartchak and is calling on him to explain why he cared so little to learn about this crucial crisis.
Judy Jones 314 974 5003, SNAPjudy@gmail.com, Fran Unglo-Samber 717 514 9660, firstname.lastname@example.org, David Clohessy 314 566 9790, email@example.com, Barbara Dorris 314 503 0003,bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org