The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Woman sues Methodist predator; SNAP responds
Statement by Bob Schwiderski of Wayzata, MN
We applaud Ms. Beach for having the strength and courage to publicly expose this predatory cleric. Rev. Budd exploited a vulnerable congregant in a severe and damaging way. He's likely to commit such crimes again unless the public is warned about him and unless he experiences serious consequences for his wrong-doing.
Based on these allegations, it seems that Methodist church officials also share some of the blame, for refusing to act promptly and compassionately to heal Beach and protect others.
We hope that anyone with information bout Budd's misdeeds will be brave enough to pick up the phone, get help, call police, safeguard others and heal themselves.
(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 SNAPnetwork.org)
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)
Civil suit filed against Budd (06/17/2009)
By Cynthya Porter
Suit names local and regional church authorities, too
McKinley Methodist Church and former pastor Donald Budd, 65, are both named in a civil suit filed this week by Samantha Beach, the woman with whom Budd was convicted of inappropriate sexual involvement.
In May of 2009 Budd was sentenced to 15 years of probation for two felony counts of sexual abuse stemming from two years of counseling sessions that turned sexual with Beach, a parishioner.
The law prohibits clergy from engaging in such behavior with individuals seeking comfort, advice or aid from them in their role as a religious leader.
Beach began visiting Pastor Budd for counseling after her grandfather’s death in 2003. The original court complaint says she was emotionally fragile and at times suicidal, approaching Budd for counsel because he performed her grandfather’s funeral.
As counseling sessions continued, court records say, Budd asked to see Beach in her panties and then naked. He asked her to model women’s underwear he kept in a drawer at church, and fondled her at church, at his home and at her home, the complaint says. Beach married in 2004 but separated less than a year later, jointly attending counseling sessions with her estranged husband and Budd. Times when she attended counseling sessions alone, the sexual conduct continued.
By 2005 Beach had grown emotionally stronger and felt that Budd was manipulating her. She ended the counseling sessions.
In November of 2006, she approached the Winona Police Department who helped her arrange a recorded meeting with Budd.
Based on that recording, the County Attorney’s Office filed ten felony counts against Budd, but Beach says she first approached regional leaders of the United Methodist Church to give them an opportunity to address her complaint.
The civil lawsuit, filed in Hennepin County District Court, says that not only did Budd do serious harm to Beach as a result of his actions, but so too did the Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the body governing the local church where Budd was employed.
According to the complaint, Beach approached church Bishop Sally Dyck in September of 2006 regarding the ongoing sexual nature of her interactions with Budd.
Beach had begun recording conversations between her and Budd to document his sexual misconduct and offered to share those recordings with Dyck, who the complaint says refused to listen to them.
But Beach also says that she was told by Dyck and Mike Wuehler, a church superintendent, that Budd would be removed from his duties when they could find a replacement for him.
According to the complaint, Dyck asked Beach to sign an agreement that she would mediate her concerns about Budd within the confines of church walls, and that nothing that happened during that process would be used in any civil or criminal court. As part of that process, the pair would meet face to face to share “their stories and feelings” and work towards “resolution” if possible.
Beach states in the complaint that Dyck also discouraged her from making further secret recordings of Budd as she had done in the past to document her case.
Beach says that she refused to sign the agreement that limited use of investigative information to a “church trial” and prohibited her from talking about it outside of that.
In January of 2007 when Beach would not sign the confidentiality agreement with the church, the complaint says, Dyck declared her uncooperative and not credible and ended the investigation against Budd.
Soon after, Beach went to the Winona County Attorney’s office, which investigated Budd and charged him with ten felonies, two of which Budd pled guilty to.
Budd was also stripped of his clergy license while on probation and must receive treatment as a sex offender.
The civil suit is the first time the role of the United Methodist Church has been examined in the case.
Attorneys for Beach argue in the complaint that the church was negligent in its handling of the situation, both in their supervision of Budd and reaction to her complaints.
Court papers also say church leaders inflicted extreme emotional distress upon Beach when pressuring her to sign the mediation agreement about the alleged sexual abuse, calling such a requirement malicious.
When her claims were ultimately dismissed, attorneys say Beach began to suffer myriad physical and emotional problems, from anxiety and sleeplessness to the feeling that she had lost faith in God.
The suit seeks in excess of $50,000 from Budd and the Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. No court response from the church or court date has been filed.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests