November 1, 2018
Dear Bishop Spalding,
For the past 16 years, SNAP of Tennessee has been active on behalf of victims of clergy sexual abuse across Tennessee. The origin of SNAP of Tennessee was the incongruous behavior of Bishop Joseph Kurtz and Father Vann Johnston in response to the crimes of pedophile Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell, first bishop of Knoxville. The failure to respond appropriately and educate the faithful accordingly led many victims and advocates to intensify efforts across Tennessee. The disturbing patterns of complicity in protecting pedophile priests emerged across the entire state and all three dioceses. It continues today.
From 1837 to 1971, the entire state was called "Diocese of Nashville." It is only appropriate, therefore, that the diocese of Nashville begin the process of full disclosure about all accused priests. We are glad to see the first steps being taken.
For years SNAP of Tennessee has requested a coordinated cross-referencing of personnel records and canonical secret files. Such cross-referencing is necessary to fully inform all the parishes affected by these abusive priests. For example, Paul St. Charles was assigned in the geographical boundaries of all three Tennessee dioceses. This should be made known to all three dioceses and the specific parishes within each diocese should be personally notified. This should happen with all the accused priests. Therefore, the assignment record for each accused priest should be fully disclosed immediately.
We have seen the list you intend to publish. We would like to add the following to your list. (This is by no means complete but does reference some of the omissions on your current list.)
(NOTE: Six names are listed here in the original to the bishop. They are redacted here to protect any victims.)
If this is about transparency, then be transparent. Please know that your verbiage about priests being dead is offensive. Priests may be dead but their victims are very much alive, more victims than you are aware of.
It is also offensive when you don't own up to the fact that both Edward McKeown and Frank Richards have never been punished for a single offence as a priest. McKeown is in prison for what he did after the diocese waited out the statute of limitations and allowed him to leave the priesthood the same day as Frank Richards. Are you aware of the fact that Richards bragged about his many victims in news reports after the diocese of Nashville turned him loose on an unsuspecting public? He has been free to abuse with the same abandon that he did as a priest. This remains an outrage that has never been addressed.
Victims and advocates look forward to a full accounting which will include more thorough investigation of the canonical secret files. We also demand that the Diocese call for and fully cooperate with an independent investigation of personnel files and diocesan canonical secret archives by the Tennessee Attorney General with the assistance of the TBI.
SNAP of Tennessee