A longtime leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an advocacy group that has for decades publicized allegations of sexual abuse by priests, left the organization at the end of 2016, according to a statement issued Tuesday by SNAP’s chairman.
The announcement that David Clohessy no longer is SNAP’s national director comes just days after a former SNAP staffer filed a lawsuit in Cook County, claiming the Chicago-based organization steered clergy sex abuse victims to lawyers who in turn sued the Catholic Church and then donated large sums back to SNAP.
In the lawsuit, former SNAP fundraiser Gretchen Rachel Hammond claims she saw emails from Clohessy to “prominent” lawyers in several states coordinating press events and in at least one case directly asking when SNAP could expect a donation after referring a victim. Hammond said she was fired from her job as development director for SNAP after she expressed qualms about the group’s ties to lawyers, who provided donations that in most years accounted for 50 to 80 percent of the group’s funding.
Clohessy “voluntarily resigned” from SNAP “effective Dec. 31,” according to a two-paragraph email from SNAP Board Chairwoman Mary Ellen Kruger. According to his profile on the SNAP website, Clohessy had served as the group’s national director since 1991.
“We are eternally grateful for David’s dedication to SNAP and its mission over the past almost thirty years,” Kruger wrote.
“His passion, his voice, and his kindness have touched us all. We will miss David and we wish him much happiness. David will always be a friend and an inspiration to SNAP and its many dedicated and hardworking volunteers.”
Clohessy, who lives in St. Louis, did not immediately return calls from the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. Neither did SNAP President Barbara Blaine nor spokeswoman Barbara Dorris.
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday, Clohessy said he had quit SNAP five weeks ago and that the lawsuit had nothing to do with his decision to leave.
“I’m just ready for something different,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “It was almost 30 years. I’ve read a lot about nonprofits and organizational development. It’s clear that some new blood helps.”
Tax records indicate Clohessy was one of two full-time SNAP employees, and was paid around $86,000 for his duties as national director. Kruger’s statement did not indicate whether Clohessy also had resigned from his seat on the group’s board of directors.