SNAP executive director, David Clohessy, who cut his activist’s teeth working for the disgraced and now disbanded ACORN, finds himself in something of a pickle.
SNAP, an acronym for the awkwardly named “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,” has been vocal in its demand for “complete transparency” in its assault on the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
SNAP, however, has no interest in being transparent about its own activities. Clohessy has lately been fighting a deposition order. His resistance came to light this past week when the Western Division Court of Appeals rejected his appeal in the case of an abuse accusation against a Catholic priest.
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Ann Mesle said Clohessy must comply with the deposition order because he “almost certainly has knowledge concerning issues relevant to this litigation.” Mesle acknowledged that although there are constitutional protections to be recognized and questions that Clohessy may refuse to answer, “Neither of these possibilities constitutes a basis for precluding Clohessy’s deposition or prohibiting other reasonable inquiry.”
The court apparently believes that those who accuse others of abuse have some obligation to provide evidence of the same. The Clohessy team is hoping his case will now be heard by the Missouri Supreme Court.
Clohessy’s resistance to a simple deposition raises some interesting questions. Why do he and his attorney partner, Rebecca Randles, not want to present the evidence behind their abuse accusations? Why do they insist on trying these cases in the media but deny the accused the same privilege?
SNAP and its allies have not hesitated to humiliate the accused for acts allegedly committed a generation ago. But now, when asked for the evidence behind the charges, they balk. This is no one’s idea of “complete transparency.”
Two threads here demand investigation. One is the connection between Clohessy, Randles and Judy Thomas at the Kansas City Star. The usual pattern is this: Randles identifies an alleged victim. In virtually every case, the person alleges activities that took place 30 or more years ago. Many of these cases are legitimate, but in some, the victim claims to have “recovered” his memory of abuse only recently.
Randles prepares a lawsuit and sends it to SNAP before she files it. SNAP calls a news conference, announces the suit, names the accused—his innocence or guilt of no obvious concern–and demands justice. The Star, knowing the diocese has not yet seen the suit, calls the diocese for a comment. Unaware of the details, the Diocese cannot meaningfully comment but appears evasive by not responding.
Then Randles files the suit. SNAP, Randles and the Star advance their respective agendas. Area Catholics are thoroughly demoralized. Anti-Catholic bigots are delighted. And the accused is left with his reputation forever damaged.
A second thread that needs yanking is the relationship between the liberal National Catholic Reporter, the Kansas City Star, and SNAP. There has been reason to believe that internal documents will show a coordinated effort among these parties to discredit and Bishop Finn, an orthodox cleric sent to this historically liberal Diocese six years ago to address disorders within it.
If the documents in question were delivered illegally, as many suspect, not only will Clohessy be in serious legal trouble, but the National Catholic Reporter and the Star could face charges as well.
The Star is already worrying about the “chilling effect” Mesle’s ruling will have on future victims of clergy abuse. Curiously, the Star has used that same argument to protect the “privacy” of the abortion clinics accused of failing to report hundreds, if not thousands, of cases of child sexual abuse.