Sunday, April 30, 2017

The End Of The Road For SNAP

According to The Catholic World Report

Years ago, a number of Catholic World Report articles argued the case that the group SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) – whom the media has called upon repeatedly over the years as a reliable voice to bash the Catholic Church over its handling of the sex abuse crisis – was actually nothing more than a front group for contingency lawyers and was driven by a deep ideological animus against the Church.

Now, recent lawsuits against the organization, including one by SNAP’s own former director of development, have, if anything, revealed that those arguments were too modest in their estimation of SNAP’s inner workings.
And in the wake of these lawsuits, SNAP’s most high-profile leaders—its founder and president, Barbara Blaine, and the group’s national director, David Clohessy—have suddenly announced their resignations.

SNAP has now quickly dissolved from a group awash in money and international media admiration into an organization that is near-broke, mired in costly litigation, and on the brink of extinction. What happened?

Enter Gretchen Hammond
In the summer of 2011, SNAP hired Gretchen Hammond as its director of development. By the end of 2011, Hammond, who had a background in the nonprofit world, had already helped to increase contributions to SNAP by more than double.

However, as Hammond became more familiar with the inner workings of SNAP, the more she became concerned that SNAP was not simply an innocent "victim advocacy group." She was especially troubled by the group’s cozy relationships with Church-suing lawyers and the “donations” that poured in from them. 

But most notably, Hammond – an abuse victim herself – also noticed that SNAP was not only not serving the needs of victims, but actually ignoring them. Abuse victims were simply being used as props and tools to get funds from lawyers.

When Hammond finally took her concerns to SNAP leadership, that is when her relationship with the group soon deteriorated. SNAP fired Hammond in 2013, but before she left she gathered extensive internal documents from the group, which expose SNAP’s shifty relationships with lawyers and the group’s brazen disregard for actual victims.  

In February of this year, Hammond filed her lawsuit against SNAP for “retaliatory discharge,” meaning the group had fired her for reporting to leadership the acceptance of kickbacks from attorneys. 

While many lawsuits are often rife with mundane legal language and layered legal arguments, Hammond’s suit is an eye-opener. From the very first page, Hammond lays out a portrait of SNAP as a group of committed leftists who hate the Catholic Church and who have used sex abuse victims as pawns in a craven money-making scheme with plaintiffs’ lawyers to damage the Church. From Hammond’s suit:
  • “SNAP does not focus on protecting or helping victims – it exploits them.”
  • “SNAP routinely accepts financial kickbacks in the form of donations. 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.”
  • “[A]ttorneys and SNAP work together in developing the legal theories and strategies of survivors’ lawsuits. Attorneys and SNAP base their strategy not on the best interests of the survivor, but on what will generate the most publicity and fundraising opportunities for SNAP.”
  • “SNAP claims status as a tax-exempt organization … In reality, SNAP is a commercial operation motivated by its directors’ personal and ideological animus against the Catholic Church. 
  • “SNAP callously disregards the real interests of survivors, using them instead as props and tools in furtherance of SNAP’s own commercial fundraising goals.”
The exodus begins 
Leaders at SNAP were surely hoping that news of Hammond’s lawsuit would not spread very far. But soon, a number of major news outlets, including the Chicago Tribune and theChicago Sun-Times, took notice.

However, less than a week after Hammond’s suit, on January 23, David Clohessy, the group’s long-time national director who was a favorite among journalists seeking punchy quotes for their articles bludgeoning the Catholic Church, announced his resignation.

Yet Clohessy insisted to various media outlets that Hammond’s lawsuit and the revelations that accompanied it somehow had nothing to do with his resignation. And some of Clohessy’s explanations for his departure bordered on the comical. In an interview with the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Clohessy actually cited “high cholesterol” as a contributing factor for his decision to resign.

Clohessy also gave conflicting statements to the media regarding the timing of his resignation, including saying that he had actually resigned back in October. But even as he claimed this, Clohessy’s name was still listed on SNAP’s web site as its director. 

Then, less than two weeks after Clohessy’s resignation, Barbara Blaine, SNAP’s founder, announced her own resignation. And just like Clohessy, Blaine claimed her resignation “had absolutely no bearing on my leaving” and that “the discussions and process of my departure has been ongoing.”  

SNAP now claims that the organization will continue as “99.9%” volunteers with Barbara Dorris, the group’s longtime “outreach director,” now taking the leadership role. 

The road to the end
There were, however, several signs that SNAP was in trouble even before Hammond’s lawsuit.

Back in 2012, major red flags were raised when a lawsuit against SNAP by a Missouri priest exposed that SNAP was closely collaborating with Church-suing attorneys. The suit uncovered that SNAP was actually publicizing lawsuits that had not even been filed in court yet.  

But a more serious blow to SNAP came in June of 2015, when a priest in St. Louis, Rev. Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang, sued SNAP in federal court for defamation, claiming that the group had conspired to falsely accuse him of child abuse. In news articles, media statements, and posts on its web site, SNAP branded Fr. Jiang as a “child molesting cleric” and a “cunning predator” even after law enforcement twice cleared Jiang of any wrongdoing. 

SNAP, however, refused the judge’s orders to turn over relevant documents in the case. Eventually, last August, the judgeentered a judgment against SNAP and also ordered SNAP to “pay the reasonable expenses, including plaintiff's attorney's fees, caused by their failure to comply with the Court's orders.” 

In retrospect, it should have been little surprise that SNAP’s aggressive, over-the-top approach to attacking the Catholic Church would eventually catch up with it. The ruthlessness and recklessness with which SNAP, especially its director David Clohessy, would attack the Church cannot be overstated. 

And if there were any doubt as to what motivated Clohessy in his attacks, a 2011 email exchange with an alleged victim – cited in Hammond’s lawsuit – should resolve the matter. Clohessy wrote:

“i sure hope you DO pursue the WI [Wisconsin] bankruptcy … Every nickle (sic) they don’t have is a nickle (sic) that they can’t spend on defense lawyers, PR staff, gay-bashing, women-hating, contraceptive-battling, etc.”

Such angry opposition to the Church and its teachings should not have been surprising to anyone. As we reported here at CWR back in 2012, SNAP dedicated itself to aligning with left-wing causes. SNAP President Blaine appeared as a featured guest at a charged conference called “Women Money Power,” hosted by the Feminist Majority Foundation, the very influential pro-abortion lobbying group. At the conference Blaine joined noted pro-abortion activists, including Eleanor Smeal, Sandra Fluke, Rev. Barry Lynn, and Dawn Laguens (a vice president at Planned Parenthood), for a panel discussion titled “Bishops, Politicians, and the War on Women’s Health.” 

And within months of the Feminist Majority get-together, SNAP invited Rev. Barry Lynn, the “progressive” president of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, to speak at its annual conference. And a year later, at the 2013 conference, Eleanor Smeal, the president of Feminist Majority, was SNAP’s keynote speaker.

Add to these episodes the fact that David Clohessy was once a local leader of the far-left activist group ACORN, and SNAP’s political agenda is established with little doubt. 

In pursuit of his left-wing campaign against the Church, Clohessy would make countless media appearances and press statements in which he would attack Church officials and accused priests with little regard for veracity. In a 2012 deposition, Clohessy even admitted under oath that he provided false information to the media. Yet even after making this embarrassing admission, Clohessy continued to let falsehoods fly

But it is Clohessy’s fearless mean-spiritedness over the years that cannot go without mention. Aside from his countless attacks on innocent priests and bishops, Clohessy has clearly made it his mission to torment priests, bishops, and the Catholic flock any way he can imagine.

Clohessy actually once led a court campaign to allow SNAP toharass and intimidate parishioners outside of Sunday Mass. He has also incited the harassment of accused Catholic priests by publishing the personal phone numbers and email addresses of them on the SNAP web site.  

The examples are legion. But the lowest of the low may have occurred in late January of 2012, when Clohessy actually suggested that Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua wasfaking his cancer and dementia to avoid appearing in court for an abuse case. Less than 36 hours after Clohessy made hiscruel remark, Bevilacqua passed away in his sleep at age 88. Clohessy never apologized.

Mixed media reaction
While nearly every significant news outlet in the country has excitedly cited at one time or another SNAP’s Clohessy and Blaine in attacking the Catholic Church, the media’s reaction to the pair’s sudden resignations has been muted. 
Newspaper and television outlets in Chicago reported on Hammond’s lawsuit and the resignations. The Kansas City Starand the Boston Globe, both of whom have covered clergy abuse cases extensively, also generated modest articles about Hammond’s lawsuit against SNAP.

The most notable silence, however, has come from the New York Times and its crack “National Religion Correspondent” Laurie Goodstein. Over the years, the Times and Goodstein have made reporting on the Catholic Church sex abuse story an obsession, and they have repeatedly quoted SNAP leaders. On March 13, 2012, the Times and Goodstein even ran a sympathetic page one story on SNAP when SNAP and David Clohessy were flouting court orders to turn over documents. 

The Times then followed the article with a crazy editorial the very next day, claiming that the Catholic Church was somehow “hurting victims’ advocates” by expecting SNAP to obey the law and follow a judge’s orders.

Yet even as the ship at SNAP has been quickly sinking, Laurie Goodstein and the Times have gone radio silent, not publishing a single syllable about the group’s demise.
And in this sense, nothing has changed. 


  1. RIGHT ON DIANA !!!maybe the Jungle folk,s we'll all get exposed, starting with their Master Tim Rohr and their money hungry lawyer

  2. This is not about Money. It is about the healing of victims.

    1. Dear Anonymous at 7:28 pm,

      Money cannot heal.

    2. Diana 10:31 is 100% right
      Money cannot heal
      SNAP was never about healing only money
      HHP is counseling and treatment 1st and money 2nd
      Some people think money can heal
      Money cannot heal

  3. Not the Fake victims, it seems that the money will heal them....

  4. the question has never been answered; never been asked; where were the parents of this so call abuse children when their children were being abused? Where were the aunts and uncles? Where were the caring adults in their families?

    Sad huh!!! and please don't comment about the shame of the abused during this time. The number of children committing suicide on Guam speaks loudly of the hypocrisy of parents and adults on Guam. It is the same situation; they are too busy!!!

    Let us put blame on the world; let us put blame on the world because its easier than facing our own reality.

    1. J. Bautista @ 6:16 PM I guess you haven't paid attention. Doris Concepcion said that she lives with the guilt of continuing to send her late son back to serve Fr. Apuron after he abused Sonny. Fr. Apuron told her that Sonny tried to attack him and Doris punished Sonny.

      Doris is not the only one who trusted priests and continued to send their sons to them even as they were being sexually abused. Many, many parents and family members fell into the very same trap: trust the priests who are hurting their children.

      They were not "too busy" as you say. They trusted the pedophile priests!

    2. And what will you say when the man you accuse of being a pediphile is found innocent?

      I really would like to keep a running record if all these "Catholics" who are accusing our bishop. Just so that we can compare what they will say and do after they receive news of the canonical trial's result.

    3. Notice a pattern of majority of abuse claims are against deceased priests. Would not be surprised if when another priest dies, a new wave of abuse claims are filed. Why wait? File abuse claims now so that no more children are harmed. Expose and remove current predator pedophile priests NOW!

    4. Anonymous at 11:27pm. The majority of claims are not against priests who have already died. But I see your point of "when another priest dies, a new wave of abuse claims are filed. Why wait? File abuse claims now so that no more children are harmed. Expose and remove current predator pedophile priests NOW!"


    5. Anonymous May 1, 2017 at 9:13 PM

      You chose to write anonymously....that's ok but failed again to answer the question?

      The same trap comment is a deflection from the truth.

      The abused; I would like to think had responsible adults caring for them.

      Answer the question...where were they?

    6. Good question.

      Where were the responsible adults you ask?

      How many child sex abuse victims do you know today and would you recognize them if they didn't say anything to anyone? If you had no clue what the signs were, how would you know or even guess that they had been sexually abused?

      In the ads that bring awareness to the problem, at least to my knowledge, it is always directed to the child...THE CHILD holds the responsibility of choosing to speak up and tell an adult.

      Rather than the responsible adults who were supposed to know everything and should have recognized trouble right away...the ultimate question really is: why would a child keep silent?

      The answer may be: because they didn't or weren't able to trust an adult after that or they may have felt betrayed by the one(s) they did trust enough to tell. Who knows.

      The only way to find out why someone would stay silent and whether or not the abuse really did take place is through an investigation. However, a 40 yr old criminal activity seems much too far back to be able to gather substantial evidence to prove guilt or innocence. It isn't fair and places an undue burden of proof for both the victim and the accused. Furthermore, the accused already appears to be on an even bigger disadvantage because we often view them as being guilty instead of innocent until proven guilty. As scewed up as it may seem, the accused should always be viewed as being innocent until proven guilty. We have to remind ourselves that it is so much more of an injustice to put an innocent man in jail even more so than a victim who is delayed/denied justice. Why should an innocent man deserve being put in jail and/or their name and honor smeared? What good is there in that?

    7. Did the parents of the victims consent to the abuse of their child?

      Did they turn away their face while their kid was offered as a sacrifice of their fake sanctimony? Did they trust everybody in a priestly outfit just because they did not want to take the trouble of being vigilant?

      Did they know about the predator priests who were roaming around and considered Guam a territory of free unlimited hunting? Did they aid and abet abuse by neglect? Are they liable for what happened to their child? Can the parents be sued by Public Law 33-187?

    8. Dear Anonymous at 8:20 am,

      I recall the testimony of the brother of Joseph Quinata. In his testimony to the senators, he told them that his brother Sonny came home from church in such pain that he could not use the restroom.

      My wad it that a 10 year old child can see that his older sibling was in such pain and unable to use the restroom and his mother cannot see that? Did she bring him to the doctor?

    9. At the end of the day we should be able to answer these questions.

    10. At 8:49 Am..... If I was in pain and could not use the the restroom, my mother would say what's wrong and make sure and found out!!! any Mother would+

  5. @Anon 913pm...Im sorry how, with all this so called incurred guilt of punishing her son when he tried to tell her...she never stopped the priest from becoming Archbishop.....its too far fetched..her crying amd sobbing now??? Where was any if that 12 yrs ago this is where I can only see how fake the crocodile tears are....and excuse me now you wanna come to Gu and celebrate his death anniversary?? Well why not, tickets paid, internent of ashes paud and publicized, attention, attention and more attention. God please bring out the truth and clear our dear Archbishops name. Forgive them, they know not what they do!

  6. Tim sexual abuse billboard $$$$$$..made her come out to Guam talk about fake tears :''')half a million dollars of Church Money. 1:07 AM ......OUR ARCHBISHOP IS INNOCENT, INNOCENT,INNOCENT. NOTHING BUT A TIM ROHR ''CONSPIRACY''