The Sacramento Bee
06 October 2011
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From the Frontlines in the Battle Against Sex Abuse: An Open Letter to the Bishop of Helena, Montana, From the Law Offices of Kosnoff PLLC
Recently, Bishop George Leo Thomas of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena opined in a local newspaper that new lawsuits filed by sex-abuse survivors against the diocese did not involve Diocese of Helena priests. Not so, says Seattle attorney Tim Kosnoff, lead attorney representing 77 sex-abuse victims. Kosnoff, one of the nation’s foremost experts representing abuse survivors, says the tide is turning. From Ireland to Philadelphia to Kansas City to Helena, victims sexually abused by Catholic clergy are showing they will not be silenced. The public, too, is crying out for change.
By Kosnoff PLLC
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011 – 1:12 pm
You know full well that the Jesuit priests who have been identified in the first lawsuit were all working as priests directly for the Helena diocese in diocesan parishes, missions and schools. Some of those perpetrator priests, albeit educated by the Jesuits, were ordained by the bishop of Helena. Regardless, they were working on behalf of the diocese, and under the control and direction of the Bishop of Helena. Most of the cases involve abuse survivors who were NOT a part of the Jesuit bankruptcy case, which, as you know, involved more than 200 victims of Catholic clergy abuse from Montana alone.
Second, you know or should know that at least two diocesan priests have been named in lawsuits filed last week. More diocesan priests will soon be identified in court filings. None of this is new to you because you are the keeper of the Helena diocese “secret archives,” which are the historical records documenting the abuse of children by diocesan priests and others under diocese supervision.
Instead of misleading parishioners and the public, why don’t you open up these files so that parishes and the public can know where you have assigned these abusers? Better yet, why don’t you turn this information over to local prosecutors so that they can objectively evaluate the job you and the diocese claim to be doing to protect children from abuse by Catholic clergy? With 115 cases filed in a week against your diocese, and with no end in sight, isn’t it time to come clean with everyone so that Montana kids can be protected?
More to the point, what’s wrong with sex-abuse survivors coming forward, seeking justice and healing? Dismissively calling these lawsuits allegations from 35 to 60 years ago is contrary to the professed desire to “heal all wounds.” Your parishioners are seeking legal redress now after they were abused, broken and silenced by your priests. These lost souls want real solutions rather than denials, hollow assurances and business as usual. Your OpEd piece only reinforced what grand juries and other investigative commissions around the world have concluded: Catholic bishops owe their allegiance to the Vatican and cannot be trusted to protect children.
Tim Kosnoff, Seattle, WA
One of the attorneys representing 77 sex-abuse victims in a civil lawsuit against Diocese of Helena
Tim Kosnoff. For the past 15 years, Seattle attorney Tim Kosnoff has devoted his legal practice to advocating on behalf of sex-abuse victims. Kosnoff has successfully sued several Roman Catholic dioceses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Jesuit Province of the Pacific Northwest, holding abusers and their employers accountable. Kosnoff’s four-year legal battle on behalf of Jeremiah Scott, a young man sexually abused by a Mormon church elder, is chronicled in the recently published book, “The Sins of Brother Curtis,” by Lisa Davis (Simon & Schuster). Kosnoff won a $3 million settlement in that case. Kosnoff manages his own firm, Kosnoff Trial Lawyers & Advocates in Seattle, and is sought by attorneys nationwide to partner on cases.
Media contact: Tim Kosnoff, 425-837-9690