Lawsuit alleges clergy abuse group received attorney kickbacks

A former fundraiser for a nonprofit that's long campaigned to expose clergy sex abuse of children charges the group received kickbacks from victims' attorneys, including a prominent Minnesota lawyer.

Gretchen Hammond, who worked for the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said SNAP referred abuse victims to lawyers and then got kickbacks from lawyers in the form of donations.

SNAP denies Hammond's allegations.

The lawsuit refers to an unnamed Minnesota lawyer who apparently gave about $1 million to SNAP. Attorney Jeff Anderson said that's an obvious — and unfair — reference to him.

He said he's long supported organizations like SNAP.

"I am confident and 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," Anderson said.

Hammond is suing SNAP, claiming it wrongfully fired her.

Bruce Howard, Hammond's attorney, said the lawyers making donations were not named at this time because the focus of the lawsuit is on her dismissal.

"She was wrongfully terminated because she started asking too many questions about potential referrals of cases to attorneys in exchange for donations tied to those referrals upon the successful completion of the lawsuits," Howard said.

Correction (Jan. 20, 2017): An earlier version of this story misstated where SNAP is based. This post has been updated.

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