Lawsuit Alleges Exploitation of Abuse Survivors by Non-Profit Organization
FMSF News Alert - February 2, 2017
"It is very painful to me to have anyone, especially in the mental health community, doubt the existence of repressed memories."
For many years a group known as SNAP (Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests) appears to have encouraged people to file lawsuits against priests - many of those suits based on claims of recovered memories. The group and its leader, David Clohessy, went beyond their mission to hold abusive priests accountable and involved itself in the Mohler family case about which we wrote extensively in our spring and winter 2010 newsletters. We thought our readers would find the following news of interest.
J. Bean and Pamela
Lawsuit Alleges Exploitation of Abuse Survivors by Non Profit Organization
A non-profit organization purporting to represent victims of sexual abuse collected millions in revenues acting primarily as a referral service for attorneys, according to a lawsuit filed by a former fundraiser for the group.
The money was paid to SNAP (Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests) from settlements negotiated by lawyers to whom the group sent abuse survivors who called their hotline, the lawsuit alleges.
According to the lawsuit filed by Gretchen Rachel Hammonds on January 19th:
"SNAP does not focus on protecting or helping survivors - it exploits them."..."In exchange for the kickbacks, SNAP refers survivors as potential clients to attorneys, who then file lawsuits on behalf of the survivors against the Catholic Church. These cases often settle, to the financial benefit of the attorneys and, at times, to the financial benefit of SNAP, which has received direct payments from survivors’ settlements."
Hammond claims that in one year, over 80 percent of all donations to SNAP came from victims’ lawyers.
Former national director of the organization, David Clohessy called the allegations "utterly preposterous" adding that SNAP has "always been under attack by somebody". Clohessy resigned as director of the organization effective December 2016 - an announcement which was made public one week following the filing of this lawsuit.
Jeff Anderson, a prominent attorney who handles many clergy abuse cases commented "The allegation is explosive because it’s unethical"..." I’ve never done it nor would I ever do it."
This is not the first time SNAP’s relationship with attorneys has been called into question. In 2012, a judge ordered SNAP to turn over decades of correspondence to determine if there had been attempts to coach victims into claiming they’d repressed memories of their abuse in order to toll statutes of limitations. In some of those documents, it was discovered that Director Clohessey had informed media outlets of lawsuits against a Kansas City Diocese hours before the lawsuits had been filed.
When questioned as to how SNAP was able to predict lawsuits before they occur, Mr. Clohessy invoked the confidentiality rule permitted to Missouri Rape Crisis Centers. In turn, opposing counsel then questioned SNAP’s status as a Rape Counseling Center using the organization&rquo;s tax returns:
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