Daily News Long Island
Monday, January 14th 2008
Unsatisfied with Rudy Giuliani's campaign-trail defense of a Long Island priest accused of molesting boys and suppressing complaints against other clergymen, protesters have turned to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota for help.
Members of SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - showed up at Spota's Hauppauge office on Thursday to hand him a letter that urges the prosecutor to blast the ex-mayor and Republican presidential hopeful for his "repeatedly hurtful, insensitive and misleading public comments and innuendos" about a Suffolk grand jury report on the sex abuse scandal within the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
Specifically, SNAP members are bothered that Giuliani, in cities across the country, has steadfastly defended his life-long pal, Msgr. Alan Placa, who was accused in the 2003 grand jury report of sex abuse but was never tried because of the statute of limitations.
"Giuliani continues to rub salt into the wounds of victims by claiming he doesn't believe Placa is guilty," said Barbara Blaine, president and founder of SNAP.
During a TV interview in October, Giuliani stood by Placa.
"He's a friend of mine for over 35 years. I have great confidence in him," Giuliani told WBZ-TV in Boston. "I know, I understand, that people feel very hurt about this issue in general. They have every right to. But then you just can't, just can't assume that people are responsible for things that they're accused of. You've got to give the whole process a chance, right?"
Because none of the 23 priests whose sex abuse cases were outlined in the grand jury report was formally charged, Spota spokesman Robert Clifford said, the district attorney is prevented by law from identifying any of the clergymen - labeled Priests A through W in the report. Therefore, Clifford said, Spota cannot comment on the letter from SNAP.
In numerous published reports, Placa has been identified as "Priest F," a parish priest who taught at a boys high school and later became a civil attorney who would write the diocese's sex abuse policy. Placa, a former vice chancellor for the diocese, was relieved of religious duties in 2002 and is now employed by Giuliani's consulting firm. He has denied the allegations, which include groping three boys.
Spota was among the first prosecutors in the country to commission a grand jury to address the nation's pedophile priest scandal.
When the report was released, he said the grand jury would have considered an indictment, if a "fitting statute of limitations been in effect."
Blaine said that SNAP and other organizations representing survivors of clergy sex abuse are grateful for Spota's work and the grand jury report, but "we feel their efforts are being spat upon by Giuliani's statements. We're looking for somebody to step up and challenge these statements."