When Barbara Blaine was 13 years of age, she reports that she was sexually molested by a Roman Catholic priest. She identified the priest who she says molested her. And although there have been 30 years of accusations against him, he has never had to face the criminal justice system for those accusations because he is protected by the statute of limitations in the law. Some folks feel that had he faced justice, even if he was eventually released the public would be better protected from him. Others feel that because he is the most publicly well-known accused pedophile in Ohio, that nothing more is necessary to publicize the danger he is to the public. He hasn’t been laicized, but he has been prohibited from acting as a priest and he was denounced from the pulpit by his bishop.
Barbara went on to found the group SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and she has been involved with SNAP’s leadership for the past 29 years. This past week she became the second leader of SNAP to resign her position with the organization. Two weeks ago, SNAP’s executive director, David Clohessy, resigned. He has also been part of the organization since its founding. Both resignations have been reported to have been in the works for awhile. Blaine says that it is a part of the natural evolution of SNAP as it moves from being a founder lead organization to being one led by a board. Her resignation was effective 3 FEB.
However, both of these departures occur under a dark cloud. SNAPS has faced lawsuits against it in the past and survived. This lawsuit has been filed by a former insider to the organization. Gretchen Rachel Hammond was a fundraiser for SNAP from 2011 until 2013. In 2013 she was let go. SNAP hasn’t spoken publicly about her dismissal because it was a personal personnel matter. Hammond says that her firing was retribution by both departing leaders and others for confronting her employer with fundraising misdeeds.
In her lawsuit, Hammond alleges that SNAP was involved in exploiting the survivors who came to the organization for help. She claims that SNAP was part of a kickback scheme from the lawyers who over the years have won multimillion-dollar settlements from the Roman Catholic dioceses and religious orders and their insurers. Hammond says that survivors were referred to lawyers with the understanding that SNAP would receive a portion of the settlements that survivors received. She claims the lawyers passed these kickbacks directly to SNAP from the survivor’s settlements disguised as donations. In her lawsuit, Hammond alleges that she has suffered health issues as a result of her firing and she claims also that the firing has been damaging to her career.
The claims in the lawsuit were denied last Wednesday by SNAP’s current board chairperson;
Like all nonprofits, SNAP solicits and accepts donations from anyone who believes in our cause. This includes individuals from all walks of life. This has also included attorneys who have filed lawsuits against priests and “the system.” To be clear, SNAP has never and will never enter into any “kickback schemes” as alleged by Ms. Hammond in her lawsuit, nor has SNAP ever made donations an implied or express condition of the referral of victims.
Mary Ellen Kruger