A national group that advocates on behalf of victims of sexual abuse plans to protest outside a Tucson church this Sunday at 11:15 a.m to demand the resignation of music minister Eric Holtan.
The group SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is a national support network for men and women abused in religious and institutional settings. Joelle Casteix, the organization's volunteer western regional director, told the Range recently that SNAP did try to contact the pastor of Dove of Peace Lutheran Church to talk about the protest.
"We sent an email to the church, but we never received a response," Casteix said.
Casteix said that this week SNAP learned that Holtan, who plead guilty in 2000 to two counts of child sexual abuse involving two former choir students in Duluth, Minnesota, was working at Dove of Peace. Holtan also works as director of Tucson Chamber Artists.
"He's still on probation," she said, adding that part of that requires that he have no unsupervised contact with underage women.
Casteix said SNAP discovered Holtan's position when one of his victims reached out to the organization. "Our fear is that he might be doing the same thing in Arizona." SNAP started 25 years ago in California as more and more cases of priests molesting children in the Catholic church came forward. The organization is run by victims of abuse.
She added that Holtan was a graduate student at the UA when the charges came forward. He left, served prison time and then returned. Besides demanding that Holtan be removed from his position with the church, they are also asking that the church membership talk to their children about sexual abuse.
According to a report that ran in today's Duluth News Tribune, Holtan taught music at Duluth East High School and pled guilty in 2000 to having sexual contact with 15-year-old and 16-year-old students.
Under the terms of his probation, Holtan is not allowed to have unsupervised contact with underage females, and Clohessy said he believes Holtan has violated that condition.
Holtan, who was convicted of first-degree and third-degree criminal sexual conduct, was ordered at his 2000 sentencing to serve two years at the Northeast Regional Corrections Center, register as a sex offender and meet the conditions of his probation for 15 years. Any violation of that probation could result in him being sent back to prison for more than 16 years.
The Tucson Weekly reached out to Holtan through the Tucson Chamber Artists' office and he has not returned our call. We also called the pastor at Dove of Peace Lutheran Church and sent an email. There has been no response. A Facebook message was also sent to a Tucson Chamber Artists executive board member, and no response.