Cybersecurity » Lawsuit Alleges Attorney Kickbacks To Clergy-Abuse Victims Group

Lawsuit Alleges Attorney Kickbacks To Clergy-Abuse Victims Group

January 23, 2017

The largest and most active support organization for victims of child abuse by clergy has been sued by its former development director, who claims the group referred clients to plaintiff attorneys in exchange for financial support. The organization, St. Louis-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, denies the allegations. This case, filed in Cook County Court in Chicago, will address perennial questions about where legitimate mutualities of interest between plaintiff attorneys and consumer/victim advocacy groups cross the line to illegal kickbacks. The plaintiff alleges she discovered an arrangement that did cross that line, when she was accidentally cc-ed on an email sent to an attorney who represents sex abuse victims. She says it both included information about a particular sex abuse victim for purposes of filing a lawsuit and asked the attorney when the organization could expect a donation. According to the complaint, in 2011 more than half of the group’s contributions came from plaintiff attorneys, including $275,000 from one attorney in Minnesota. The same attorney is said to have contributed $415,140 in 2008.  The attorney is not named in the complaint, but according to a post on the Minnesota Public Radio website, attorney Jeff Anderson says the reference is to him. Anderson, who has been perhaps the most prominent and successful plaintiff attorney in clergy sex abuse cases worldwide, maintains that he is “absolutely certain we have never engaged in anything that is even close to anything that’s illegal, unethical or amounting to anything close to a kickback.” The plaintiff, who claims she was the victim of retaliation after she confronted the SNAP’s president about what she had discovered, is now reporter for a Chicago LGBT publication.

 

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