OH--Abuse case vs. Columbus priest settles
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 29
Statement by Judy Jones, SNAP associate Midwest director, 635 433 2511, SNAPjudy@gmail.com
Another child sex abuse and cover up case against an ex-Columbus child molesting Catholic cleric has just settled. Now, Columbus church officials must disclose his whereabouts, put him in a treatment center and aggressively seek out others he has hurt.
Fr. Ronald J. Atwood was suspended in July 2013 after he was accused of sexually abusing a child at Bishop Ready High School and/or St. Stephen the Martyr and St. Peter parishes in Columbus between 1976 and 1979.
In 1999, Fr. Atwood was charged with public indecency in a public park known for sexual activity and the following year, he pled ‘no contest’ to urinating on a tree and paid a fine.
But troubling questions remain: Where is Fr. Atwood? Who’s monitoring him? And why is the settlement against him being announced by the victim and his attorney and not by Columbus Bishop Frederick Campbell and his staff?
For the safety of kids, Bishop Campbell should also post the names of all accused predators on his archdiocesan web site. About 30 US bishops have done this. This is the absolute bare minimum every bishop should do to safeguard the vulnerable, heal the wounded and expose the truth. It’s just wrong for bishops to recruit, educate, ordain, hire, transfer and shield child molesting clerics and then do little or nothing to warn the public about them once abuse reports against them are made.
Bishop Campbell should also go to all parishes where Fr. Atwood worked, and beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes to call police. We believe it’s possible Fr. Atwood might still be criminally charged for child sex crimes. But not if Bishop Campbell and his colleagues continue to say and do as little as possible.
(A photo of and more information about Fr. Atwood is available at BishopAccountability.org)
We hope this settlement will provide some comfort to Fr. Atwood’s victim. We also hope it will encourage others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to come forward, expose predators, protect kids, deter cover ups and start healing.
Remember this settlements – and who disclosed it, the victim and his attorney – the next time someone claims that Catholic officials are “open” and “transparent” about clergy sex crimes and cover ups these days. It’s just not true.
Catholics and citizens must continue to rely on courageous victims, determined journalists and our secular justice system to warn parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners and the public about known, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.
(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)