The latest issue of Commonweal includes an article by Mark A. Sargent entitled “Vengeance Time: When Abuse Victims Squander Their Moral Authority.”
SNAP has taken it upon itself to conduct a campaign some might call vigilante harassment.
He examines the actions of groups like Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) who treat every allegation of sex abuse lodged against a priest as a mandate to pursue him wherever he goes and to never give him a moment’s peace. In this examination we encounter the gray area between civil law and Church discipline: How are we to deal with priests who are deemed to have “credible or substantial complaints of sexual abuse of minors” yet can’t or won’t be prosecuted by the legal authorities for criminal acts because of lack of evidence or expiration of the statute of limitations.
In November of last year, the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, released the names of twenty former priests about whom the diocese found “credible or substantial complaints of sexual abuse of minors.” Most of the twenty are dead. Edward M. Dudzinski, however, was still living-although he had not served as a priest since the 1980s-and resided in Herndon, Virginia.
When local members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) discovered Dudzinski’s location, they went door-to-door in his neighborhood distributing a file of documents with the title “Community Notification: Protect your children from a credibly accused serial sex offender,” which they believed established Dudzinski’s identity as a sex offender. Dudzinski, however, has never been convicted of, or even charged with, a sexual-abuse crime.
Even in cases where the priest was never charged, even though the case fell within the statute of limitations and several law enforcement agencies investigated and did not file charges, SNAP has taken it upon itself to conduct a campaign against the priest, a campaign which some might call vigilante harassment.
Aiming at the bishops; hitting secondary targets
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