Catholic League Reports on SNAP Deposition

Recently, Catholic League president William A. Donohue, Ph.D. published a report on the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) deposition in Missouri. Here is an excerpt from Donohue’s report:

At the end of 2011, a Missouri judge ordered David Clohessy, the president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), to be deposed regarding his role in cases of priestly sexual abuse. Clohessy fought the order vigorously, but lost. On January 2, 2012, he was deposed; the deposition was made public only recently [click here]. [NOTE: all pages cited are taken from the deposition.]

Clohessy proved to be uncooperative, refusing to comply with a request for internal documents; he only released a small portion of them. On the stand, he was similarly recalcitrant, refusing to answer many questions. He took refuge in a Missouri law which protects the confidentiality of rape crisis centers. But there are serious reasons to doubt whether SNAP meets the test of a rape crisis center.

Clohessy was asked point blank, “Did you identify yourself as a rape crisis center?” His reply, “I don’t know.” [p. 87.] At another point, he admitted, “I don’t know under the Missouri statutes exactly what constitutes a rape crisis center.” [p. 112.] The lawyers for an accused priest were not impressed. From their questions, and from subsequent statements they’ve made, it is clear that they do not believe that SNAP qualifies as a rape crisis center. They have plenty of reasons for reaching this conclusion.

You can read his whole article and deposition here.

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31 Responses to “Catholic League Reports on SNAP Deposition”

  1. MaryG says:

    Truth will out.

  2. Deborah says:

    This subject is a tight rope. The fact that there are a list of priest that abused kids is aweful and to abuse a single person sexually is so offensive to me and for it to be a child I can’t even begin to catch my breath. I realize that men and women see sex so differently that the rational or the way man see sex even with children might be minimized. To me to be a child of sexual abuse is horrifying and causes permanent problems. I even contend that it can be a contributing factor in homosexuality which is why I find SNAP disingenuous because they would be the first to demand that homosexuality be embraced. I don’t get it.

  3. Steven says:

    I’m not surprised by this at all. When money is involved all sorts of devious things happen. I’ve thought all along in more cases than not it was all about SNAP trying to make money at the expense of the Catholic church. Once attorneys get involved forget it! I sincerely hope the real victims of sex abuse can get some justice but I’m also very concerned that the Catholic Church receive fair treatment also.


  4. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    A great article. Another reason why every single Catholic should be a member of the Catholic League. Go back to the link and join. The Catholic League is the largest Catholic civil rights organization in the country.

    We need the same clout that other “protected” groups have and Bill Donohue is building just that. Catholics need some justifiable anger.

    Turn the other cheek? Yes – Defend ourselves – I say yes to that too.

    Thomas Aquinas once said:

    “Lack of the passion of anger is also a vice” because a man who truly and forcefully rejects evil will be angry at it. The lack of anger makes the movement of the will against evil “lacking or weak.”

    He quotes John Chrysostum: “He who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices, it fosters negligence, and incites not only the wicked but the good to do wrong.” As Gregory the Great said, “Reason opposes evil the more effectively when anger ministers at her side.”

  5. John says:

    @Deborah, Homosexuality does not imply pedophilia. i am a gay Catholic, and unfortunately many of us are caught in the middle of the issue in addition to trying to understand ourselves. It is obvious that these incidences of sexual abuse are horrible. However, blaming a group of people does not lead to an understanding of the situation. The people who committed such acts were able to “disguise” themselves as priests. They saw the priestly life as an opportunity to strike. Just because someone is gay does not mean that they have an inclination to commit such acts. There are also heterosexual predators in the world.

  6. I hope this attention on SNAP is not an attempt to change the subject. The issue is the abuse of children. I do understand the necessity to guard the Church against false suits but we must keep our attention on the basic issue.

  7. Irene says:

    The case in question prompted my husband, who is no way a political or activist Catholic, to make a first time ever donation to SNAP. I don’t know that much about SNAP, but I do know they were one of the first organizations to publicly call for accountability in priest abuse cases.

    I think it is ugly of the diocese to go after them. And,frankly, I’m wondering why this is posted on my own archdiocese’s blog.

  8. Phil says:

    Most people who have worked with SNAP and are concerned about the credibiity of the church. Their standards for publishing accusations are quite high. On twocorthRe out occasions, they declined my reports,even though there were other indications that the information was true. Members of these organizations see the sex abuse crisis as an impediment to the New Evangelisation, sought by Blessed John Paul II, and Pope Bebdict XVI.

  9. Therese says:

    Because, Irene, their motives are becoming extremely questionable and their publishing of information scandalously careless. They have been proven completely wrong, priests have been exonerated 100, 110%, and they won’t withdraw their information.

    This Clohessy guy is out of control, and SNAP would do well to remove him from management.

  10. Steven says:


    How can it be ugly to ask for justice for everyone involved here…the victims and the Catholic Church? What’s ugly is to bury your head in the sand and tell yourself that SNAP is perfect and does no wrong. The Church has admitted their wrongs many times but SNAP does not reciprocate.


  11. Dave Pierre says:

    Bravo, Cardinal Dolan!

    Learn even more about SNAP:

  12. Becky says:

    As a victim of abuse I am very sad that Cardinal Dolan would publish this on his blog.

    When the Pope came here to the United States he said that ” I know that
    the Bishops and the priests and all Catholic people in the United States will do whatever
    possible to help, to assist, to heal. ”

    SNAP has helped thousands of victims to heal from childhood sexual abuse including me. At one of my darkest moments I called David Clohessy whom I had never meet or spoken to before. He listened to my story and shared my pain for over an hour. It was the beginning of my healing from the abuse I suffered as a little girl. I am not sure I would be here today if it wasn’t for SNAP.

    The Catholic church should be supporting SNAP and the work they do to help victims heal instead of supporting those that are trying to destroy it otherwise the Pope’s words are just that meaningless words.

  13. Carolyn says:

    How convenient for Cdl Dolan to use the distortions of a bully like Bill Donohue to attack David Clohessy, who works his heart out picking up the pieces for survivors left broken by chancery officials and their lawyers — as well as their perpetrators.

    Here are the facts about the two cases where SNAP has been subpoenaed:

    Church officials want to drag SNAP into two civil lawsuits in which it is not involved. (SNAP has, in fact, only filed one lawsuit in its history.) In Kansas City, it’s John Doe BP v. Fr. Michael Tierney and the Kansas City diocese. In St. Louis, it’s Jane Doe v. Fr. Joseph D. Ross and the St. Louis archdiocese.

    They have issued four wide-ranging subpoenas (one in Kansas City and three in St. Louis) on two SNAP leaders (David Clohessy and Barbara Dorris) demanding thousands of pages of emails and records involving many individuals who have never met the accused or the accusers or even heard of the lawsuits at issue.”

    IOW, it’s a fishing expedition and more to crush SNAP. See

    Part of Donohue’s clever spin is this: “Clohessy admitted that he has lied about some of his statements to the press.” That statement itself is a bald lie! He admitted no such thing.

    In response to, “Has SNAP to your knowledge ever issued a press release that contained false information?” Clohessy said, “Sure,” in the sense of not being certain that over 20 plus years of putting out press releases that something somewhere has not turned out in the end to be inaccurate or false.

    I’ve worked on press releases with Clohessy, and we go over every detail to confirm accuracy. SNAP will survive this with God’s help, and continue its vital work doing what bishops should have done in the first place: reach out in Jesus’ name.

  14. Judy Jones says:

    Thank you Irene… and thank your husband..!

  15. Dennis McCartin says:

    And where do you stand Cardinal Dolan? Citing a loudmouth like Donohue (one wonders how much bishops support him to be their front man so they don’t get their cassocks dirty) who clearly likes to distort situations to his own “right” way of thinking, does not diminish the fact that SNAP has been an organization of truth in lots of respects about the abuse crisis. I hope you know the Church itself needs to be more transparent. As head of the US bishops conference, I would hope your leadership would support the truth on everything that has to do with the Catholic Church in the U.S.

    Hiding behind Donohue, the American Catholic Church’s Limbaugh, doesn’t help the challenge to be transparent.

  16. Chad Witcher says:

    How sad for the American Bishops to be attacking an organization that is attempting to help the victims. So now, they add attacking the Good Samaritan to their crimes of allowing the abuse of minors and then attempting to cover it up. I can understand that kind of nonsense from The Catholic League, but the President of the USCCB. SHAME!
    What happened to “feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” The American Catholic Bishops should be spending their time healing the broken-hearted and binding up their wounds and then making sure this horror never happens again and not engaging in media campaigns to shoot the messenger! Shame!

  17. Paul D. McLaughlin says:

    I want to hear Cardinal Dolan, as the leader of the Bishop conference, to demand that every Bishop, Cardinal and other church leader – past and present – who was involved in decisions that transferring, ignoring and covering-up child abuse in the Church resign and turn themselves into authorities for prosecution.

    Donohue is a blowhard fool who does more harm than good for the Church and Irish Americans. He and his group are nothing more than a cover for the Conservative Right. Simply look at his Board membership.

    Finally, who listens to America’s Bishops anymore? They are living in an echo chamber. Rank and file Catholics care little about what they say or do. Look at what is happening in Cleveland, St. Louis (the Polish Church), matters of reproductive freedom…American Catholics simply don’t care what the Bishops say.

  18. When Archbishop Dolan was named to the New York Archdiocese, I wrote to him and asked him very politely to “rein” in Bill Donohue whose speech is neither Catholic nor Christian. Dolan’s communications director responded with a letter indicating that Donohue had no affiliation with the Archdiocese of New York. Now, Archbishop Dolan is quoting Donohue and using his comments to advance the Catholic League agenda. Was I told a lie or is the Catholic League not affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York?

  19. Randy says:

    It is interesting to see SNAP do exactly what various diocese have done. That is refuse to provide documents. Refuse to answer questions. Simply take the legal strategy of stonewalling.

    I am not saying that is good or bad. I am just saying SNAP has called it immoral when bishops have done things like this in child sex abuse cases. Now they are doing it.

  20. Chris says:

    This report is beyond disgusting, has the Catholic Church fallen so far that one of its Princes is cheerleading a bully. Bill Donohue is leading a personal crusade against the victims of rape. He is not a man of honor, but a vile man with no shame. The fact is that priests abused children and Bishops like the current Cardinal George in Chicago defended the priests instead of protecting the children. Under the current leadership the Catholic Church is losing its flock and its morals.

  21. Irwin says:

    In my opinion the Dioceses should have fought the financial settlements every step of the way. Individual priests that acted criminally needed punished. But the Dioceses did not need to support the lawyers & extortionists.

  22. Rosemary Huss says:

    To Andy P.

    “The Catholic Church needs justifiable anger”. Lets all think about that for
    a minute. Soo- It’s ok for the Church to have justifiable anger but it’s not
    ok for a victim to have justifiable anger. It’s ok for the Church to say
    “The victims are to angry, they must forgive”, and it’s ok for the Church to
    be angry at the victims for suing them. Wow.


    When I read the deposition, I hear echos of ,”by what right do you do these things?” Talk about straining the gnat and swallowing the camel!! Things never seem to change on these kinds of things.

  24. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    Notice how they come in bunches your Eminence. Irene and her dissident or former Catholic friends did the same thing when so called “homosexual marriage” was the issue.

    They start their letter writing campaigns to try and show that they are the majority of Catholics when in fact the majority are with you.

    Keep fighting these plagues Cardinal. Know the our Lord has furnished us with the victory almost 2,000 years ago. It is only up to us to choose where we stand, with Him and His Church or against Him and His Church.

    Those that do not gather – scatter.

  25. Nancy Morgan says:

    A day is coming when there will be a full accounting of what has and is happening within the hierarchy of the Church. I dread the pain that we will certainly experience when everything comes to light; yet, I welcome The Light!

  26. What a risky approach. You are publicly trying to galvanize Catholics against the victims of child sex in the Catholic church, when you know it was a problem that the Catholic church hid.

    Just this month, they proved that Cardinal Bevilacqua shredded documentation of 35 known pedophile priests back in 1994. God kept a copy in a safe, and it surfaced last month. God also made Fr Avery admit this week that he’d been lying for 30 years, and that he did sexually abuse a 10 year old boy (in disgusting ways). Avery’s lawyers tried to intimidate the victim, but God gave the victim the strength to fight back for justice. That should have been your article.

    If you are wrong, and SNAP is right, and they really do represent children that were sexually abused by priests in the Catholic church, and you persistently fight them, how can God be merciful to you or to anyone that follows you? The psycological trauma that they endured, believing that they were “raped by Christ on earth” at age 10, 11, 12 is horrifying.

    If you are right, and they were never sexually abused, and are only looking for money, then God would be less judgmental.

    However, I can’t even imagine how unforgiving God will be with you if you are wrong, and you are fighting legitimate victims of child sex and horror in God’s own church. If you lead people, and they become part of this mob, and you are wrong, they will be punished, but you will have been their leader.

    I guess I’d ask What Would Jesus Do? What side is God on, and why did He give us this Internet proof, and the Philly cases, et cetera. It sure seems like He is on the side of the victims.

    This is such a risky approach to your eternity.

  27. Charles J Murphy says:

    In effect you are saying, Cardinal Dolan, that the Church is being persecuted for persecution sake, all abuse is trumped up, there should be no SNAP or plaintiffs lawyers.

    I dare you to be the first one to call the police, not to be dragged kicking and screaming to the truth. Open your personnel files to the district attorney. Begin a process of truth and reconciliation.

    To side with a savage bully and $500-per-hour attorneys will not end this…only escalate this.

    As you said in Milwaukee upon your installation: “Be not afraid!” The truth, not hardball tactics, will set you free.

  28. Mary Bailey says:

    We all agree that ANY and ALL abuse of a child is a crime, a sin and an abomination. Consequences are required. With that said, I don’t believe that Snap adds one thing to the solution.

    I strongly recommend that all go back and read the documents that led up to this debate. David Clohessy was subpoenaed for a simple reason: he was quoted in news accounts claiming knowledge of the facts of the case. For the record, Clohessy answered “NO” that he didn’t know the person bringing the civil lawsuit. Curious. How did he become the expert on what happened in this case? He’s working for an attorney whose goal is to make money. . .sad.

    ( / p. 56)

  29. Irene says:

    Andy P: How dare you question my fidelity. Are you some kind of temple police taking it upon yourself to call out as a dissenter anyone who doesn’t agree with your idiosyncratic brand of Catholicism? Jesus came down much more strongly on child abusers than anyone here is doing, is He a dissenter as well?

    Your nasty and uncharitable remarks are inappropriate for a Catholic website.

  30. Mary Lu Callahan says:

    William Donohue is despicable in his words and his actions. Read his statements that are routinely slanderous, scurrilous and dripping with sarcasm on “The Catholic League”, I use that phrase loosely, website. The fact that Cardinal Dolan seems to support and encourage him is also despicable. What have we as a church sunk to?


    I do not necessarily endorse SNAP, but the reason they have become as important as they did is that too many bishops had to be dragged kicking and screaming into court before they admitted they “might” have known something about pervert priests in their dioceses. Cardinal Dolan, the onus is on the Church to recover the credibility its American bishops wilfully BLEW because of their “shuffle off to Buffalo (or Gallup)” song and dance act in the 1970s and 1980s. One reason the Church is having the traction problems it has on sexually related moral issues (including the HHS mandate) is that the bishops’ credibility on matters sexual, in the American public forum, is–shall we say–“tarnished?”