Friday, September 16, 2005
Support group for clergy abuse victims wants priest removed
SAN DIEGO -- A support group for clergy abuse victims sent a letter Thursday to Bishop Robert Brom, demanding that a priest who pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography be removed from a San Diego neighborhood.
"We are writing Thursday because of recent actions at the diocese that are posing a large and dangerous risk to the children of San Diego," the group's letter begins.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests contends the Catholic Diocese of San Diego should have notified neighbors that the Rev. Gary Holtey was living unsupervised across the street from St. John's Catholic parish in University Heights.
SNAP also alleges the diocese failed to remove the 59-year-old Holtey from the priesthood, a move the group contends Chancellor Rodrigo Valdivia pledged following the priest's sentencing earlier this year.
"He poses an immediate risk, but church officials apparently don't think that it is important to warn the neighbors or remove Holtey from ministry," said Joelle Casteix, SNAP's southwest regional director.
In a statement, the diocese said it continues to "comply with all requirements of law and to cooperate with public authorities in addressing cases of sexual abuse by church ministers, including the case of Gary Holtey."
"We follow procedures that reflect a commitment to transparency and openness, within the confines of respect for the rights and the reputation of the individuals involved," the church's statement says.
Holtey, former pastor of St. Charles Borromeo, pleaded guilty in February to 10 misdemeanor counts of possession of child pornography and was placed on formal probation for three years.
He was also ordered to stay away from children and to complete a 52-week sex offender treatment program.
Last week, SNAP began distributing a petition demanding that Holtey be placed in a supervised environment away from children. The group also posted fliers about him in local schools, day care centers and businesses.
In the letter, SNAP demands that Brom and Valdivia acknowledge that Holtey is a risk and warn neighbors, as well as release all documents pertaining to the priest's laicization, or defrocking.
See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.