SNAP Letter to Abbot Klassen

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August 9, 2006

Dear Abbot Klassen:

Founded in 1989, SNAP is a 7000+ member support group for women and men who have been wounded by sexually abusive priests, nuns, seminarians and bishops. We are the largest and oldest such self-help group dedicated to healing the wounded and protecting the vulnerable.

We are very disturbed by the inexplicably reckless delays in your disclosing of sex abuse allegations against Rev. Robert Blumeyer, Rev. Michael Bik and Rev. Bruce Wollmering (and perhaps others).

For years, you and your colleagues have kept silent about credible allegations of horrific sex crimes and misconduct by these men. By keeping these secrets, you have needlessly, selfishly, and callously put other innocent kids and vulnerable teenagers at tremendous risk of severe, lifelong harm.

By your own admission,
— for at least eight years, you apparently kept the accusations against Bik secret,
— for at least two years, you apparently kept the accusations against Wollmering secret, &
— for at least ten months, you apparently kept the accusations against Blumeyer secret.

How do you explain the dangerous, years-long delays in disclosing the names of predators? Don’t you see that such secrecy needlessly puts innocent youngsters at risk?

We believe that your failure to immediately disclose the actions of these men to the public – and to notify potential victims that help is available – has resulted in more risk, more pain and perhaps more victims.

We are also troubled by your apparent decision to selectively provide only partial information about these men’s crimes to law enforcement.

In a recent St. Cloud Times article, abbey spokesman Rev. William Skudlarek said he “was not aware whether the allegations against the three constituted any sort of criminal behavior,” adding “If there were anything here in which law enforcement would need to be involved with, that would immediately be reported.”

This indicates that only that information about sexual misconduct deemed by abbey officials to be important is turned over to law enforcement. This is precisely the kind of improper meddling by untrained and biased church officials that has been so harmful in the past. The independent professionals in law enforcement are trained to investigate sex crimes and misconduct. You or your staff are not. It is your civic and moral duty, we firmly believe, to give law enforcement all potentially relevant material about alleged sex crimes and misconduct, not to make selective determinations yourself as to what might be helpful and what is not.

Again, such secrecy needlessly puts innocent youngsters and vulnerable adults at risk and may enable dangerous criminals to escape prosecution.

How do you explain refusing to turn over all information about child molestation by clerics to law enforcement? Don’t you understand that such secrecy needlessly puts innocent youngsters at risk and may enable dangerous criminals to escape prosecution?

In light of these disturbing facts, we strongly urge you to:

– give all information and allegations involving any known or suspected sex offenders at your facility (monk, employee or volunteer) to law enforcement immediately,
– disclose the work assignments of any monk, employee or volunteers (deceased or living) and regardless of their current location, against whom a credible allegation has been made,
– pledge to promptly disclose all future accusations of sexual abuse or misconduct immediately, not years later,

In addition, we use you to use every means possible to aggressively

— others who have been hurt or may have been hurt by current and former monks, employees and volunteers, and urge them to come forward, get help and call the police, and
– others who have or may have witnessed or suspected crimes and misconduct by current and former monks, employees and volunteers, to call the police.

Today, we will hand out flyers door-to-door near Benilde-St. Margaret High School where Rev. Dunstan Moorse worked in the 1980s, urging parents to ask their kids if they were hurt by him or by any of your clerics. We lack the finances and resources to do the kind of thorough and effective outreach of which you are capable. Nevertheless, we will do our best, as we have for years, to prod those in pain to get help and those with information to call the police. We hope you will do likewise.

We hope to hear from you soon.

Bob Schwiderski
Minnesota co-director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
1859 Shadywood Rd.
Wayzata MN 55391
952 471 3422, 612 360 9018 cell

David Clohessy
National Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915

Barbara Dorris
Outreach Coordinator, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
6245 Westminster
St. Louis MO 63130
314 862 7688

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Topics: Bob Schwiderski, Bruce Wollmering, David Clohessy, Michael Bik, Robert Blumeyer, SNAP

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