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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Monday, April 11, 2011

Priest pleads guilty to child sex abuse; SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)

Let’s hope that every person who saw, suspected or suffered this priest’s crimes will find the courage and strength to speak up, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.

It’s disappointing to see a church official minimizing Belcher’s connection to the denomination. Who cares whether Belcher met this victim through his church role or not? That’s irrelevant. What matters is the safety of kids. Episcopalian officials should use their resources to aggressively seek and offer help to anyone else Belcher may have hurt. And they should beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police and prosecutors, so that he might be effectively prosecuted and jailed and so that kids might be safer.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. 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, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

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http://www.dailyinterlake.com/news/local_montana/article_4f9ce196-645f-11e0-ae8b-001cc4c03286.html

Yaak man pleads guilty to sex abuse

Posted: Monday, April 11, 2011 11:13 am By CALEB SOPTELEAN/Daily Inter Lake Daily Inter Lake | 0 comments

A suspended Episcopal priest who owns a bar in the Yaak in Northwest Montana pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of child sexual abuse as part of a plea agreement.

The Rev. Donald W. Belcher, 82, was extradited from Libby to Cecil County, Md., in January after being arrested in the Yaak in December.

Belcher was also charged with third- and fourth-degree sex offenses, according to Cecil County Assistant State's Attorney Kevin Urick. Those charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

No sentencing date has been set, although Urick said it typically would occur six to eight weeks after a plea agreement.

Belcher faces up to 25 years in prison for each count, or a total of 50 years.

He posted bail and is currently free on pre-trial release, Urick said.

Belcher was indicted by a Maryland grand jury last November and charged with molesting a 15-year-old girl in June 2006 and an 8-year-old girl in September 2010 while living in North East, Md.

Belcher and his wife, Gloria, purchased the Dirty Shame Saloon in the Yaak from Rick Carsello in 2006. Belcher was minister of Holy Trinity Church in Troy and St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Libby from 1996 to 2001.

He had owned the Yaak River Lodge from 1992 to 2002 before moving to Maryland. Belcher has addresses in both North East, Md., and Yaak.

The Rev. Canon Scott Slater, a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, said the diocese believes the indictment stemmed from Belcher's personal life, not from his parish ministry nor his function as a priest, according to explorehartford.com.

Belcher was ordained a priest in Montana in 1997, the website said. He was suspended by the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland on Jan. 6.

He served as an associate of pastoral care at St. Mary's Church in Abingdon, Md., from June to December 2008 and was vicar of the Church of the Holy Cross in Street, Md., from 2001 to 2007. He also previously worked as an executive for a pharmaceutical company, as a wine importer and as a stockbroker.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org