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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR COLUMBUS, OH
Wednesday, January 11, 2006

For First Time Ever, Catholic Bishop Says "I Was Molested by Priest"

In Unprecedented Move, Top Cleric "Breaks Rank" With His Colleagues

He Backs Better Child Molestation Laws That Make It Easier to Sue His Church

Former Church Defense Lawyer Also "Changes Sides" And Stands With Victims

They"ll Both Walk Through State Capitol, Lobbying For Controversial "Window"

What:
For the first time in history, a Catholic bishop is

-- disclosing his own childhood sexual abuse by a priest, and

-- breaking ranks with his colleagues by actively backing reforms to archaic state child molestation laws.

At a news conference, he"ll discuss his experiences and unprecedented decision, along with a priest and a former diocesan defense lawyer who are also supporting the proposed reforms. Afterwards, the men will walk across the street and hold both scheduled and impromptu meetings with several key Ohio lawmakers.

When:
TODAY, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2:45 p.m. (eastern)

Where:
Hyatt Regency Capitol Square (House Room), 75 E. State Street (corner of Third St.) in Columbus, OH

Who:
An active Catholic bishop from Michigan, a former diocesan defense lawyer from Texas, and a parish priest from Iowa . . . along with clergy molestation victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)

Visuals:
The group will hold signs and childhood photos.

Why:
In a stunning move, Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton will for the first time publicly acknowledge that he was fondled as a teenager by a priest. No other Catholic prelate has disclosed childhood victimization at all, much less by a cleric.

He will also make history as the first bishop to ever back legislative reform of archaic sex abuse laws.

In March, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 17, which will deter future molestation and cover up by allowing more victims to expose the predators who sexually molested them during childhood. By allowing more civil lawsuits, it will mean the disclosure of more deeply-held church abuse secrets.

But Ohio"s Catholic bishops are fighting the centerpiece of the bill, a one year civil "window" which allows victims to a) sue through the open, time-tested justice system and to b) warn others about dangerous sexual predators and shed light on those church officials who shielded and protected molesters.

Other participants in the news conference include Rob Scamardo of Texas (former lawyer for Houston's bishop and an abuse survivor) and Fr. David Hitch of Tipton, Iowa (whose brother was abused by a priest).

Contact:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director 314 566 9790 cell

Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP Founder and President 312 399 4747 cell

Claudia Vercellotti of Toledo, SNAP Toledo Director 419 350 9234 cell

Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director, 314 862 7688


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
 


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