Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Child sex abuse case v. Epis. Church settles; SNAP responds

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

We hope this settlement helps these girls and their families heal. We also hope it will encourage others who are molested by church employees to come forward, get help, call police, expose predators, protect kids and start healing.

At the same time, we worry about Robert Nelson's whereabouts and future. He's 55, apparently healthy, and has a common name, so he may well find it easy to get another job with access to kids. It's crucial that his current and former co-workers and parishioners contact police with any information about his alleged crimes, so that a potentially dangerous predator might be taken off the streets again. These individuals have a moral and civic duty to speak up so that others might be spared devastating abuse.

(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 21 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), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home)

Derby church sex abuse lawsuit settled

Published: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 - By Michelle Tuccitto Sullo, Naugatuck Valley Bureau Chief

DERBY — A lawsuit against a church filed by three underage girls who said they were sexually abused by the church organist has been settled.

The litigation, which was filed in 2005 in Superior Court in Waterbury, named the organist, Robert Nelson, and Immanuel St. James Episcopal Church on Minerva Street, as defendants. The three plaintiffs are identified only as Jane Doe 1, 2 and 3.

Attorney Timothy Moynahan of Waterbury, whose firm represented the girls, said Monday, “It has been settled to the satisfaction of the plaintiffs.”

Moynahan refused to disclose the amount of the settlement, saying it was confidential.

The lawsuit claimed that between 2000 and 2004, Nelson engaged in sex with the girls, showed them pornography and took pornographic photographs. It claimed the plaintiffs suffered physical injury, psychological trauma and emotional injuries.

Today, the plaintiffs are 18 to 21 years old.

The lawsuit claimed the church had a duty to use reasonable care in hiring, and a background check on Nelson would have revealed his history of sex crimes against minors. Nelson had a prior conviction for risk of injury to a minor for molesting a girl in Newtown. The suit alleged negligence on the church’s part, as Nelson was able to use his position to “prey upon” the girls, the lawsuit states.

Nelson allegedly gave the girls rides to church and to his home.

The Rev. George Brower, pastor at the church, declined to comment on the case. The attorney who represented the church in the litigation, Alan Robert Baker of Wethersfield, could not be reached Monday.

Karin Hamilton, director of communications and media for the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, declined to comment on the amount of the settlement.

“Our understanding is that the case is settled and we have nothing to add,” Hamilton said.

Nelson, now 55, who lived in Naugatuck before his incarceration, was sentenced in January 2006 to 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting young girls he met through the church.

After he began serving that sentence, police learned of a murder-for-hire plot against one of the juvenile victims, according to police and court documents.

Nelson pleaded guilty to attempted murder, and was sentenced in Superior Court in New Haven in 2007 to seven more years, for a total of 22 years behind bars. He is incarcerated at the Bridgeport Correctional Center, with an anticipated release date of July 2027, according to the state Department of Correction.

Michelle Tuccitto Sullo can be reached at or 203-789-5707.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests