Abuse survivors group demonstrates outside St. Francis Xavier Church

CREATED Feb. 26, 2014

  • Print

FORT MYERS, Fla. -  Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, demonstrating outside St. Francis Xavier Church in Fort Myers.

"Church officials can and should do more," says Barbara Blaine, President of SNAP.

Blaine says they have concerns about how the Diocese of Venice responded when Eucharistic Minister Robert Little was arrested for molesting a young boy he met at church.

"The way the diocese dealt with this was reckless and that it placed children at risk." Blaine says.
 
Little was no longer volunteering at Saint Francis Xavier when he admitted to police he touched the boy inappropriately, but was living at the diocese-owned Villa Francisco, just blocks from the church.
 
The Diocese didn't ask Little to leave until a week after his arrest and after a local attorney, who represents another boy who claims Little molested him, voiced his concerns to Fox 4.
 
"The Diocese was concerned about the situation and took action," Diocese of Venice Spokesman Billy Atwell said. "We had to look into the legal conditions because there was a lease in place and we had to make sure we weren't violating his civil rights in that lease. When it was determined that it wasn't, he was removed immediately."
 
The Diocese says like all volunteers and employees, Little was background checked and fingerprinted. After he was arrested, the church sent letters to all parents at its school and made an announcement at all masses.
 
But SNAP isn't satisfied.
 
"We think Bishop Dewane needs to step up and do more," Blaine said.
 
SNAP also voiced concerns about a priest accused of and another priest convicted of child abuse living in Southwest Florida. The Diocese of Venice says since the two men are no longer active in the ministry, they have no legal rights to track them or warn neighbors about their past.