SNAP Connecticut

Group urges firm stance in punishing Polish priest

Special to The Bristol Press
Published on 10/05/2004

NEW BRITAIN -- A national advocacy group for victims of sex abuse by clergy is urging the state's attorney to seek an admission of guilt from Polish priest Roman Kramek.

Citing concerns that Kramek will abuse again if he is allowed to return to Poland, members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are drafting a letter to New Britain State's Attorney Scott Murphy, asking him to be firm in negotiating a plea deal that was offered to Kramek last week.

Kramek, 42, is accused of second-degree sexual assault for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old girl in December 2002 while he was counseling her for a previous sexual assault. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, but Kramek could reduce that time if he accepts the plea deal Nov. 3.

Although terms of the offer were not released, the director of SNAP Connecticut said she is worried Kramek's charges will be reduced and that his punishment will not fit the crime.

"A sentence that's not going to fit the crime will allow the stigma, guilt and embarrassment (of the victim) to continue and the state cannot send that message," said Landa Mauriello-Vernon, director of SNAP-CT.

The international nature of the case is an added concern as charges in one country could have little impact in another land.

"Once a priest is allowed to move to a foreign country, as Kramek has given every indication he will do, the American bishops lose track of them. If someone has a first offense here, then they can go back and (make) more victims there," Mauriello-Vernon said.

That may not necessarily be the case.

Even if Kramek is allowed to return home, the archbishop of Hartford may choose to forward information indicating the threat he may pose to children or young people, according to the policy on allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors posted on the archdiocese's Web site.

Church officials were unavailable for comment Monday afternoon, but questions remain as to whether these rules would apply to Kramek, since he was a visiting priest from Poland and not a priest of the Hartford archdiocese.

The archdiocese also prohibits the transfer to another diocese of any priest or deacon who has sexually abused a minor.

Still, SNAP officials cite a report in the Dallas Morning News that found 200 known or suspected abusive priests have fled to foreign countries in recent years, some to escape criminal prosecution.

"A change of scenery doesn't cure a child molester. We only fear he will abuse again elsewhere," Mauriello-Vernon said.

The Bristol Press 2004

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Last Updated: October 26, 2005