The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Friday, Dec. 4, 2009
Clergy sex victims want probe of AIDS agency
It’s headed by a convicted felon and Catholic bishop
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is asking federal, state and local officials to investigate a Columbus non-profit headed by a convicted felon and Catholic bishop who welcomed at least one child molesting cleric into his denomination.
Leaders of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) are making the public plea in light of new disclosures that Bishop Phillip George Zimmerman of the Reformed Catholic Church pled guilty in Michigan four years ago for defrauding the government in connection with a phony scholarship and tuition scheme.
Zimmerman heads Pater Noster House in Columbus, a nonprofit organization that serves those with HIV and AIDS.
“We have no direct knowledge of financial misdeeds by Zimmerman in Ohio, but given his recent criminal actions, we think it would be wise for his agency’s funders both public and private institutions and individuals to take a serious, close look,“ said Judy Jones of St. Louis, SNAP’s Ohio Valley director. “If he pled guilty to stealing from the government, moved elsewhere, hid his crime from his colleagues, and started heading another non-profit, that’s troubling and suspicious.”
Allegations about Zimmerman’s wrong-doing first surfaced in a SNAP news conference two weeks ago in Columbus. The self help group disclosed that he let a convicted child molesting priest officiate at a mass in Columbus in October, and ordained a former Roman Catholic deacon as a bishop despite his being arrested on abuse allegations.
SNAP also urged
One of the criminals Zimmerman welcomed, Rev. Sean-Michael Lyons (also known as Michael S. Lyons), is a registered sex offender, having been convicted in 1985 on ten counts of lewd acts with young boys. He was sentenced to 12 years in state prison in New Jersey. Last year, he was sent back to prison for failing to register under the provisions of Megan’s Law.
Yet, in October, Lyons was invited and participated as a priest at a special church event in Columbus.
The other sex offender, Patrick Batuyong, an ex-Roman Catholic deacon, was made bishop in the denomination in 2006. In 1993, he was arrested in Fayette County GA on six counts of aggravated sexual abuse, solicitation of juvenile prostitution, criminal abuse, and criminal sexual assault. His victims were minors. The court file is now sealed. In 2006, Zimmerman made Batuyong bishop of the denomination’s southeastern region.
SNAP believes church officials should pledge to never again ordain or welcome credibly accused sex offenders and should aggressively reach out to anyone who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Lyons or Batuyong recently.
Lyons lives in Oceanside CA but has also reportedly lived in New Jersey and in Mexico. Batuyong died in April 2009.
A photo of Lyons participating in the recent Columbus event is available at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=76082064183#/photo.php?pid=9330517&op=19&o=all&view=all&subj=76082064183&aid=-1&oid=76082064183&id=599645376
The Reformed Catholic Church just began renting a downtown Columbus church in July, from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio (headed by Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal, email@example.com
Zimmerman can be reached at 614-358-4487or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a Philadelphia PA native and sometimes uses the first name George.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests