Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ex-Asheville priest accused of molesting child; Sex abuse victims respond

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell)

We commend Mr. Souder for coming forward, disclosing his name, and taking legal action to expose predator Catholic priests and corrupt church officials. It takes considerable strength and courage to step up, speak out, and warn others about dangerous clerics. We hope this brave move will help Mr. Souder with his healing. We are confident it will help safeguard vulnerable children.

Many times, priests, especially from the Northeast, took kids on vacation trips to the beach or the mountains, only to molest them in cabins and hotels and resorts. And many times, predators worked together and molested kids in groups of two or three or more. The horrific abuse described in this lawsuit, while shocking to some, is painfully familiar to many of us.

We also hope this lawsuit will inspire others who were hurt by church employees - living or dead, ordained or lay - to come forward, get help, call police and start recovering. History, psychology and common sense all strongly suggest that there are others who were molested by Fr. McCole and Fr. Pechulis. Some of them are likely still trapped in shame, confusion and self-blame. We hope they will take some comfort in knowing they are not alone.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 20 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. 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

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688), Mary Grant (626-419-2930), Mark Serrano (703-727-4940)

Posted on Tue, Jun. 2, 2009

'70s altar boy alleges abuse & that Krol abetted cover-up

By ST. JOHN BARNED-SMITH - Philadelphia Daily News - 215-854-5926

A former altar boy for the late Cardinal John Krol filed a lawsuit yesterday alleging that he was sexually abused by two priests in the 1970s.

The lawsuit makes no allegation of sexual misconduct by the Philadelphia archbishop, who died in 1996, but does contend that Krol blithely ignored the accusations.

Lawyers for Steven B. Souder, 47, of Philadelphia, filed the suit in Asheville, N.C., against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the diocese of Charlotte, N.C., and a now-retired Philadelphia priest.

According to the lawsuit, which seeks damages for emotional and physical abuse, Souder was a student at Roman Catholic High School and an altar boy for Krol when he met three men who sexually abused him: Father John McCole of Philadelphia, who is now retired; Father Justin Pechulis, of Asheville, now deceased; and an unidentified man.

The complaint alleges that McCole and Pechulis forced Souder to engage in group oral sex with them while the unidentified man masturbated nearby.

"This lawsuit is a demonstration of the participation at the highest level - of up to and including the bishop and perhaps higher - in the systematic cover-up of child abuse," said Jay Abramowitch, a Berks County attorney representing Souder.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Farrell declined to comment, saying she had not seen the lawsuit.

In a telephone interview with the Daily News yesterday, Mc-Cole acknowledged that he had known Souder, but denied the allegations.

"He [Souder] accused me of improper sexual abuse before . . . but the diocese investigated it and said it was baseless," McCole said.

"I was friendly with him," he said, "but I'm really shocked by this accusation. . . . I would never do anything like that."

In the lawsuit, Souder claims that after sexually abusing him on "multiple occasions," McCole took him one summer in the late '70s to the rectory of the Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, where McCole introduced him to Pechulis.

McCole acknowledged knowing Pechulis but said he had no memory of taking Souder to Asheville. "I don't remember that at all," McCole said.

According to the complaint, Krol dismissed the accusations, telling Souder "that he [Souder] was not being touched inappropriately. . . . 'That's just how men behave with each other.' "

Souder approached Abramo-witch in 2007, after he began having flashbacks, the lawyer said. The complaint alleges that Souder had been "mentally ill" and had repressed his memories of the incident until 2007.

"In North Carolina, the courts recognize a statute - that if someone suffers a repressed memory, and if that is proved through psychiatric test, that period of time . . . does not count against the statute of limitations," Abramowitch said.

"It's obvious from the systematic manner of the abuse, and levels of participation . . . that [for] the archdiocese to be taking the position that it didn't have knowledge [of the abuses] is preposterous," he said.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests