Press Release, Thursday 8 January 2009

For immediate release:  Thursday, Jan 8

Victim files lawsuit about alleged predator priest
She wants Guernsey County criminal investigation records released

Case involves a suspended Steubenville cleric who faces at least two accusers

A woman who says she was molested by a priest is filing a new lawsuit to get copies of police records about the cleric.

Beth Rocker, who now lives in Israel, wants Guernsey county officials to make public the criminal investigation records involving her accusations against  Fr. Gary Zalenski, a Steubenville diocesan priest. Zalenski was suspended in September 2007 for allegedly molesting Rocker when she was a girl in the early 1990's.
The lawsuit was filed today in Guernsey County Court of Appeals. Cincinnati area attorney Konrad Kircher  (513-229-7996, 513-218-1252) represents Rocker.

“It's crucial that families understand how this predator operates," Rocker said. "As a matter of conscience, I feel it's my duty to help other victims know they aren't alone and help parents know that it's critical to keep their kids away from this man."

Leaders of a national self help group for victims called SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) support Rocker and believe that Zalenski should be prosecuted.

Rocker reported her abuse to law enforcement a year ago. In September, she testified before the Guernsey County grand jury about the crimes she experienced.

On Oct. 1, the grand jury chose not to indict Zalenski. That same day, Rocker’s lawyer filed a written request to prosecutor Dan Padden, asking that investigation documents be released

Three weeks later, Kircher sent a second letter to Padden, repeating the request.

In November, Padden refused to release files but agreed that a court should decide if they can be released.

SNAP director Judy Jones has talked with two of Zalenski's victims. Two sources have told her about a formal complaint from 1991 filed with the Guernsey county sheriff’s office. It accuses Zalenski of physically beating a young woman he had molested when she was a teenager.

“We fear there may be more victims of this priest who are still not coming forward and getting help,” said Jones. “And we fear that Steubenville Catholic officials may not have turned over all of the Zalenski documents to the law enforcement.”

SNAP outreach director Barbara Dorris shares Jones’ concern.

"We’re worried that this man is still free to abuse, manipulate, coerce, and use violence and power to control his vulnerable victims, and we feel this needs to be investigated further," Dorris said.

For a copy of the lawsuit, please contact Kircher or Jones.

David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP national director 314 566 9790
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP outreach director 314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell
Judy Jones of St Louis, SNAP director Southeastern Ohio  636-433-2511 home,  314-974-5003