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Panel to evaluate whether Vatican is legally accountable for sexual violence against children by clergy


A complaint submitted to the International Criminal Court in The Hague requesting an investigation of the Vatican for crimes against humanity will be the subject of an April 2 program at The University of Toledo College of Law.

Two panel discussions titled “Child Sexual Violence by Clergy: Is the Vatican Accountable under International Law?” will be held Monday, April 2. Sponsored by the UT College of Law and its International Law Society, both panels will take place in the Law Center Auditorium. The first panel begins at 11:45 a.m. and the second starts at 6:30 p.m. Both sessions are free and open to the public.


The September 2011 complaint filed by the Survivors Networkof those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and the Center for Constitutional Rights charges that Vatican officials tolerate, enable, and fail to stop the systematic and widespread concealing of rape and other sex crimes by clergy against children throughout the world. The complaint states that “the high-level officials of the Catholic church who failed to prevent and punish these criminal actions … have, to date, enjoyed absolute impunity.” Panelists will discuss the background and international legal framework for the action.


Panel participants include Barbara Blaine, founder and president of SNAP, Pam Spees, senior staff attorney for the International Human Rights Program at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and David Beckwith,executive director for The Needmor Fund. The panel will be moderated by Benjamin G. Davis, associate professor of law at Toledo Law.

“The complaint seeks accountability for what one comes to see is not a local, regional or national problem in any one country, but has transnational dimensions,” said Professor Davis. “Having Toledoans, including the president of SNAP, discuss the background and legal journey to bring these matters to the attention of the International Criminal Court is a local example of international law in action.”

More information and the panelists’ biographies are available at

For more information contact Rachel Phipps, assistant to the dean for communications in the UT College of Law, at 419.530.2628 or

Media Coverage
The Blade (April 3, 2012)


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