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Protesters Bring Message to Santa Barbara

Melissa Evans - Santa Barbara News-Press
January 8, 2007

It's been a long five years for the Barragan brothers.

Eric, Edgar and Manuel Barragan were among the first victims of child sex abuse to make allegations against a Southern California priest after the sweeping scandal erupted with a story in the Boston Globe on Jan. 6, 2002.

Even though the brothers received a monetary settlement last month, "the church still hasn't done everything it could do," said Manuel Barragan, who lives in Santa Paula.

He and his two young sons, plus his brother, Eric, stood outside the Santa Barbara Mission on Sunday, the five-year anniversary of the Boston Globe stories, handing out fliers calling for additional action.

The local protest was one of dozens held across the country this weekend by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an advocacy group made up of victims formed after the scandal broke five years ago.

Even though the abuse had gone on for decades, the publicity brought national attention to the problem, spurring major reforms in the nation's largest church.

Despite the reforms, and news of some settlements, "innocent kids and vulnerable adults are still at risk and church officials are still reckless and secretive," Barbara Blaine, founder of SNAP, said in a statement.

The protesters carried posters featuring families hurt by two priests in particular: The Rev. Ryan Erickson, a Wisconsin priest who murdered two men in 2002 when one of the men confronted him with allegations of abuse; and the Rev. Robert Larsen, a Kansas priest whose sex abuse caused some of his victims to commit suicide.

The Barragan brothers received money from a $60 million settlement last month involving the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which includes Santa Barbara, and 45 alleged victims. Roughly 500 of the civil cases against the archdiocese remain unresolved.

Most of the parishioners leaving church Sunday walked quietly by the protesters after Mass at 10 a.m. One woman, who didn't want her name used, wondered how much longer the church would have to pay for past mistakes.

"I feel so bad for the victims," she said, "but it seems that it may be time to move on. I'm not sure how much more the church can really do. . . The whole thing is tragic."


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests