Remarks by attorney for Fresno diocese create uproar

Victims' advocates demand apology from newly installed Bishop Joseph Brennan after lawyer for diocese characterizes some alleged abuse victims as pigs at a trough

Bishop Joseph Brennan is installed as the Bishop of Fresno. (photo by Jacob Scott)

The Diocese of Fresno’s new bishop is already facing scrutiny after a defense attorney for a priest accused of sexual misconduct made comments toward alleged victims of sex abuse that many have deemed rude and insensitive.

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) on Monday sent a letter to Brennan asking him to make a public apology for comments allegedly said by Kyle Humphrey, who is representing the accused priest, Monsignor Craig Francis Harrison, in the sex abuse cases. The group held a press conference on Tuesday in Fresno to demand an apology from Brennan over the controversial comments.

After the allegations against Harrison emerged, Humphrey on April 26 told the Bakersfield Californian the diocese’s request asking anyone with information about alleged abuse to come forward was like “inviting the pigs to line up the trough for whatever their needs are.”

That struck a nerve with people like Joey Piscitelli, the North California director for SNAP. Piscitelli, who said he’s an abuse victim, sent a letter to Brennan asking for an apology. He says Humphrey’s comments discourage other alleged victims from coming forward.

Humphrey admitted to having made those comments. The Bakersfield attorney said his job was not to be sensitive to the “feelings of people with an agenda.”

He said SNAP “are not true victims of abuse,” added that people shouldn’t rush to judgment in his client’s case.

Full story at Fresno Bee.

DAs from 8 counties in Fresno diocese want meeting over clergy child abuse

The following is a statement from the Most Reverend Joseph V. Brennan, D.D.Bishop, Diocese of Fresno:

The review of clergy files at the Diocese of Fresno by Dr. Kathleen McChesney of Kinsale Management Consulting previously announced commenced on April 30, 2019. Dr. McChesney, a former FBI Executive Assistant Director, and her team will continue their review over the coming weeks as relates to Phase One of the process. Phase Two will focus on analyzing the outcome of Phase One. At that time, the format for the release of names of accused clergy will be established and how they will be categorized. The process will include participation of the Diocesan Review Board, College of Consultors and Sensitive Issues Committee. Victims’ advocacy will again be a crucial part of the decision making process. An announcement will be made upon the completion of the file review so the public will be informed that Phase One has been completed and Phase Two is beginning. An estimated time for the release of the names will then be determined.

Recently, the California Attorney General’s Office has asked all 12 Catholic dioceses around the state to preserve files and documents that concern their compliance as mandatory reporters of child abuse to local law enforcement.

In addition, the Attorney General’s Office has asked that 6 of the 12 dioceses voluntarily produce these same documents so that the AG’s Office can monitor their compliance with the letter and spirit of the law. The Fresno Diocese is among them.

As is our policy, we intend to cooperate with the Attorney General’s request, as well as any other requests from law enforcement, and will work out the details with them directly.

The Diocese of Fresno was also recently contacted with a request on behalf of the district attorneys that serve within our eight counties to set up a meeting. We welcome and look forward to this opportunity to engage in what we believe may be mutually beneficial dialogue.

From Diocese of Fresno website.

Comments

  1. If the attorney’s alleged ‘pigs’ remark is accurate, and I were Bishop, I would terminate the attorney at once. Such vitriolic comments against the ‘victims’ is totally uncalled for. As I understand the current procedures, the ‘victims’ need to present a credible accusation against the priest.

  2. Thomas More, Esq. says

    It is improper for an attorney, representing either the prosecution or defense, to make public statements of the nature made by Kyle Humphrey, Esq. During the pendency of a legal action, such statements can “taint” a potential jury pool, leading to a basis for a mistrial.

  3. Steve Seitz says

    It was my understanding that Kyle Humphrey was a parishioner of St. Francis who was representing Fr. Harrison. If this is true, this lawyer has no connection to the Diocese of Fresno or Bishop Brennan. I don’t think the bishop has any connection to these comments and an apology is not due.

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