The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Monday, Jan. 18
For more information: David Clohessy 314 566 9790, Peter Isely 414 429 7259
Ex Hoosier priest is convicted
He molested two boys in Wisconsin
Catholic cleric assaulted one of them in Indiana
At least one civil child sex suit against him was settled here
Support group urges new Ft. Wayne bishop to do “real outreach”
Rhoades should “personally visit” parishes where priest worked, SNAP says
It believes “There are likely others still trapped in silence, shame and self blame”
Just days after being installed, Ft. Wayne’s new Catholic bishop is being asked to reach out to anyone who may have been molested by a priest who was convicted last week of sexually assaulting two Wisconsin children.
In a Waukesha courtroom on Friday, James R. Blume pled guilty to sexually assaulting a boy in the late 1970s and another boy in the early 1980s. Throughout much of the 1980s, Blume worked for churches in northeastern Indiana.
A Chicago-based support group wants new Ft. Wayne Bishop Kevin Rhoades to “aggressively reach out” to others Blume may have hurt in Indiana.
“This is his first test of leadership here,” said David Clohessy of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “Rhoades can take real steps to find and help others in pain. Or he can do what most bishops do in cases like this, and hide behind his desk, his PR staff, his defense lawyer, which is little or nothing.”
Similar allegations against Blume have been made during his tenure in Indiana. So SNAP wants Rhoades to “use his considerable resources – including dozens of parish bulletins and websites and church staff – to do what Jesus instructed and reach out to the lost and wounded sheep.”
The group says next weekend, Rhoades should start personally going to each place in Indiana where Blume worked, and emphatically beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes to call police and get help,” Clohessy said.
That would be a clear sign, he believes, that Rhoades “cares about vulnerable kids and wounded adults.”
Most likely, however, the bishop “will probably do the bare minimum, and print a small notice in the diocesan paper announcing Blume’s conviction,” Clohessy said.
In 1991 and 1992, two child sex abuse and cover up lawsuits were filed against Blume and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
According to The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, “One plaintiff claimed he had suffered the abuse from 1982 through 1985, during the priest's assignment in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Haven, Ind.; the other from 1985 through 1987 when Blume was at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.”
The first plaintiff claimed that when he brought the information to (Then-bishop John) D'Arcy in 1989, the bishop discouraged him from telling anyone outside the church about the abuse, the News-Sentinel reported. D'Arcy denied that accusation.
The New Haven case was resolved, but the terms of the settlement remain confidential.”
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Blume is also “a former member of the Brothers of the Holy Cross religious order,” which runs Notre Dame University.
Prosecutor Debra L. Blasius prosecuted Blume. Elm Grove police Detective Craig Mayer investigated the case. Blume’s defense lawyer was Jonathan LaVoy (who said last August that Blume "vehemently denies the allegations").
The Journal Sentinel reported that “Blume was ordained a diocesan priest on June 14, 1980, in Fort Wayne, diocesan spokesman and was removed from the priesthood in June 2007, Vince LaBarbera said.”
Blume has been living recently in Hastings, Florida (near St. Augustine). He is to be sentenced March 26. The state is seeking a 10-year prison term.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests