The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a support group for victims of clergy sex abuse, is calling on Stockton’s Catholic bishop Stephen Blaire to quiet the supporters of the former pastor of St. Joachim Church in Lockeford, Michael Kelly, after he was found liable of sexually assaulting a former altar boy.
Leaders of the group are writing letters to Blaire about some church-goers at St. Joachim Parish in Lockeford who are backing Kelly even after a civil jury’s decision that favored the plaintiff.
According to SNAP, the parishioners’ public voicing of their opinions is insensitive to victims “and will likely deter others who may have seen, suspected, or suffered child sex crimes from coming forward.”
“It’s dangerous because it creates a hostile atmosphere where others who may have knowledge of this abuse, or other abuse, will be afraid to come forward,” said SNAP director, David Clohessy of St. Louis. “Bishop Blaire should step forward to rein in his flock and help them find ways to show support for their priest that don’t involve intimidating victims.”
“We want the truth to come out,” Clohessy said. “And if folks are too afraid to come forward then it will stay buried. We urge the bishop to do everything in his power to allow the justice process to continue without interruptions or tampering.”