Silence is broken by victims support group after church staffer charged with possession of child pornography

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MADISON, Ala. –  WHNT News 19 is Taking Action to track down more answers surrounding the recent arrest of a former church leader on child porn charges.

John Martin was on staff at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and was arrested on Tuesday. Since then, some say the Diocese and Parish have been too quiet when it comes to addressing the arrest. WHNT News 19 spoke with SNAP – who supports victims of child abuse within the Catholic church and they are urging the Parish to speak up.

“If I were a Catholic, not just at St. John’s but anywhere in the Diocese, I would be asking why is my Bishop being so silent? What is he trying to hide?” said David Clohessy, Director of SNAP.

Church Pastor Phil O’Kennedy said, “Since John Martin came to work for us at St. John’s in our Adult Education Department, we have seen nothing that would lead us to believe the charges being mad against him. We are stunned by the accusations. Of course we will continue to work with the authorities. We encourage any parishioner who may have any information about the accusation to come forward. And we will continue to pray for Mr. Martin and his family.”

David Clohessy said these comments do nothing but make matters worse. “Father O’Kennedy’s remark is problematic in two ways. First of all, it rubs salt into the wounds of every victim of sexual violence because again it minimizes the horror and it essentially defends the accused perpetrator,” Clohessy said.

Now the question is, what’s next for the church? “When people in authority like Father O’Kennedy rally to the defense of an accused criminal, he’s making it harder for other people to speak up and protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded and expose the criminals,” Clohessy said.

Salomonsky said the leadership at St. John’s were “extremely helpful during the search and investigation of this case.”

Investigators say they’re not sure at this time if any local children were in the pictures and videos Martin had on his computers, but urged parents to discuss the matter with their children and call the Sheriff’s Office if they have information about this case. That number is (256) 722-7181.

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