Unprompted by Local 24 SNAP, the well-known victims rights organization, SNAP, issued the following statement.:
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
The Memphis Public library has suspended a former youth minister who is accused of molesting at least three kids. That’s not enough.
Police reports have been filed. An alleged child molester walks free. His reported victims are suffering. And other kids are at risk. So officials at the main public library downtown and the Church at Schilling Farms in Collierville (formerly Immanuel Baptist Church) must take aggressive steps to reach out to anyone else who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Chris Carwile or cover ups by church officials.
Rev. Scott Payne admits he didn’t call police and now asks forgiveness. But forgiveness is premature. Payne must help police, prosecutors and Carwile’s victims first, by doing everything he can to help ensure that Carwile is successfully prosecuted. The same is true of current and former supervisors and colleagues of Carwile’s.
Church officials should make pulpit announcements, use church websites, post notices in church buildings and mail congregants (current and former) begging anyone with information or suspicions to come forward, get help, safeguard kids and call law enforcement.
Rev. Payne’s excuses for acting selfishly, recklessly and deceitfully ring hollow. And ignorance of the law is no excuse.
We hope law enforcement will investigate Rev. Payne, see if he’s done this in other cases and prosecute him if possible. We hope other church figures in Memphis will publicly denounce Rev. Payne and send a clear signal to their employees and congregants that ignoring or hiding suspicions of child sex crimes is immoral and won’t be tolerated.
Finally, we applaud Kenny Stubblefield, Brook Hansen and Michael Hansen who say Carwile assaulted them as boys in the 1990s. Without their courage and compassion, Carwile would still be “under the radar” with access to kids. A credibly accused sex offender has been exposed only because they found the strength to step forward and honor their civic and moral duty to protect others by reporting crimes.
No matter what library or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergyabuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)