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SNAP leader ducked questions in damaging deposition

Catholic World News - March 02, 2012

The director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) repeatedly dodged questions during a January deposition by invoking a law that protects rape-crisis centers, although SNAP shows no expenses for rape counseling and employs no licensed counselors.

David Pierre of The Media Report obtained and posted the full text of testimony by SNAP’s David Clohessy in a Missouri lawsuit. During the lengthy depostion, Clohessy invokes the Missouri Rape Crisis Center Statute dozens of times. But under questioning he could not provide basic answers about the work of a rape-crisis center. Clohessy admitted that he had no formal training for that work, and knew of no one on the SNAP staff who was a licensed counselor. (Clohessy testified that Barbara Blaine, the president of SNAP, had been schooled as a social worker; he did not know whether she was licensed in any state.) When asked whether he was required by Missouri law to report sexual abuse to law-enforcement officials, Clohessy testified: “I don’t know.”

Clohessy’s refusal to answer questions is noteworthy in light of SNAP’s constant demand that Catholic dioceses provide full disclosure of priests’ personnel files. The SNAP leader testified only after an unsuccessful court effort to escape the deposition.

Because SNAP has been criticized for making public attacks on priests without adequate evidence, Clohessy’s answers to questions about the group’s press releases were also revealing. When asked whether SNAP had ever issued a press release containing false information, he replied: “Sure.” And when asked whether there had ever been a case in which SNAP publicized the charges of someone who later recanted those charges, he said: “I don’t know.”

Clohessy avoided most questions about SNAP’s relationships with trial lawyers who have represented abuse victims in suits against the Church. He claimed that he did not know how much those lawyers had given in donations to SNAP. He refused to say whether SNAP recommends particular lawyers to people who report abuse.

The Media Report says that a Missouri court is expected to issue a ruling in April on whether Clohessy can be required to answer the questions that he dodged in the January deposition.

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