The lawsuit cited an April 26, 2011 email from executive director David Clohessy recommending an abuse victim pursue a claim against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee: "every nickle [sic] they don't have is a nickle [sic] that they can't spend on defense lawyers, PR staff, gay-bashing, women-hating, contraceptive-battling, etc."
Hammond's lawsuit questions the organization's treatment of victims. It claims that SNAP "callously disregards the real interests of survivors" and pressures them to "pursue costly and stressful litigation" instead of the survivors' best interests.
SNAP allegedly uses publicity about victims' lawsuits to drive fundraising. The group "regularly communicates" with victims' attorneys, often receives drafts of complaints and "other privileged information" which it would allegedly use "to generate sensational press releases on the survivors' lawsuits."
"SNAP and survivors' attorneys would often base their case filing strategy on what would generate the most publicity for SNAP – instead of the best interests of the survivors," the suit charges.
It cites an email of SNAP leaders discussing whether publishing a newsletter item would prompt more donations or upset abuse survivors. One leader said: "my initial response is that we err on the side of using it to raise money."
The lawsuit suit claims the organization would "ignore survivors who reached out to SNAP in search of assistance and counseling" and had no grief counselors or rape counselors on payroll at relevant times.
The suit says Hammond helped the organization improved its donation-tracking software system, streamlined its donor list, and helped raise its Better Business Bureau ranking and received a raise for this work.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff oversaw the fundraising for SNAP's trip to The Hague where the group filed charges against Pope Benedict XVI in the International Criminal Court. SNAP, together with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, had asked the court to investigate Pope Benedict and other Vatican leaders for crimes against humanity related to sex abuse by U.S. clergy.
Hammond reportedly raised "some $1 million" during and after the trip for a public relations campaign premised on these charges.
SNAP allegedly used the funds "for lavish hotels and other extravagant travel expenses for its leadership."
In May 2013 the international court dismissed the case as outside its jurisdiction.
(Story continues below)
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The suit also recounts SNAP's alleged efforts to counter a blogger critical of the organization, and gives what it claims to be background of several trials and legal disputes involving SNAP and priests accused of abuse.
The suit claims that when Hammond attempted to confront superiors about the practices, they engaged in retaliation resulting in the firing. Now, the lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, attorney's fees and other relief.
Hammond, who identifies as a transgender woman, is currently a journalist for the Chicago LGBT newspaper the Windy City Times.
CNA contacted attorneys for Hammond but did not receive comment by deadline.
Kevin J. Jones is a senior staff writer with Catholic News Agency. He was a recipient of a 2014 Catholic Relief Services' Egan Journalism Fellowship.