IA--Abuse victim discloses settlement with Sioux City Diocese
For immediate release: Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Abuse victim discloses settlement with Sioux City Diocese
He's glad church officials have been responsive to his pain
But he’s still pushing for more openness in the Church
Survivor also vows to continue “to find and help others in pain”
Twenty years after he first reported his childhood sexual abuse to Sioux City Catholic officials, a San Francisco man has received a settlement for the injuries he suffered at the hands of a now deceased priest.
Tim Lennon told Sioux City Bishop Lawrence Donald Soens about the assaults by Father Peter B. Murphy in 1996. He provided more information about the abuse in 2010. This spring Lennon and his 17 year old daughter Fiona traveled from California to Sioux City to meet with Bishop Walter Nickless in person and discuss the long term effects of the betrayal he suffered at Murphy’s hands.
At the meeting, Lennon, who now works as a volunteer for SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, described his injuries and asked the bishop for restitution. He also asked Nickless to make Murphy’s name public, reach out to his other victims, and open the books on all known clergy abusers who worked in the diocese.
The bishop responded to Lennon’s request to make Murphy’s name public and reach out to his other victims in June, when he published information about Lennon’s allegations in the diocesan paper.
Then, in August, Lennon received a letter from Nickless telling him that he would not only be compensated for past and future therapy expenses, but he would also receive $100,000.
“While no amount of money can return my lost childhood to me, I’m grateful for this settlement because it means the diocese has found my allegations to be credible and acknowledged my pain and suffering,” said Lennon. “The vast majority of victims never receive even that small measure of validation.”
“However, I would still like to see Bishop Nickless do one more thing: publish the names of all the credibly abused predators who worked in the diocese,” continued Lennon. “That would really make my coming forward feel worthwhile.”
David Clohessy, the longtime Executive Director for SNAP, added, “Tim’s absolutely right. This final step is a ‘no-brainer’ that should have been taken long ago. Thirty U.S. bishops have posted predator priests’ names on their websites, so this is not a tough or controversial move. It’s simply a common sense public safety measure.”
No matter what church officials do or don’t do, SNAP urges every single person who suffered, saw or suspected child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to speak up. The victims’ group encourages them to protect innocent kids and expose wrong doers by calling police, to get help by calling therapists, to get justice by calling attorneys, and to be comforted by reaching out to support groups like theirs.
Lennon concluded, “This settlement is certainly not the end of my advocacy. I will continue to work with SNAP to find and help others in pain.”
The San Francisco SNAP leader was raped and abused by Murphy in 1960 when he was a twelve year old attending Blessed Sacrament parish in Sioux City. The priest had been transferred to Lennon’s parish by Bishop Joseph Maximilian Mueller after he was caught abusing children in Fort Dodge. The assaults on Lennon ended only when Murphy hurt another child at Blessed Sacrament and Mueller transferred Murphy once again. The predatory priest died in 1980.
When Lennon reached out to the Diocese of Sioux City in 1996, he received a letter in return from Monsignor Kevin C. McCoy. The abuse survivor described McCoy’s response to his outcry as “dismissive.” “There was no ‘I’m sorry,’ no ‘how can I help?’” Lennon said.
Instead, McCoy told Lennon that sexual abuse was “a most grievous offense.” However, he went on to say that “the whole of our society for years chose to ignore the reality of this social ill. Such ignorance cannot be leveled against the church alone….” The monsignor then mentioned that the Church had “... taken steps to implement procedures to help us deal with alleged sexual misconduct by those who work for the church...”
In conclusion, McCoy told the abuse survivor, “As to your allegation concerning Father Murphy, all I can offer to you is the information that Father Murphy died in 1980. Hence, it is impossible for us to address this matter with him.”
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)