Abuse victims to leaflet Decatur churches 9:30 & 10a.m. - Fri 6/30
(For Immediate Release June 29, 2023)
New pedophile priests are exposed
SNAP: ‘15 of them were in Decatur’
Group to leaflet two local Catholic churches
Fliers ask parishioners to “spread the word” about clerics
Whistleblowers & victims are urged to ‘keep coming forward’
Holding signs and childhood photos, a clergy sex abuse victim will
--disclose the names of more than a dozen proven, admitted or credibly accused abusive clerics who are or were in the Decatur area (based on a recent Illinois attorney general’s report, mainstream media accounts and Catholic church records),
--highlight several who are still alive and may still live in the area, and
-give leaflets to passers-by and put them on cars and homes to warn parents about several of the clerics who are still alive and may still be in the area.
He will also
--call on all Catholic church members and employees to, 'for the safety of kids and the healing of victims,' circulate the names of the offenders and urge their church officials to do ‘more aggressive outreach to anyone who may have seen suspected or suffered their crimes,’ and
--urge anyone with information about or suspicions of clergy sex crimes to “keep coming forward to police and prosecutors, not to church figures.”
In Decatur on Friday, June 30 at 9:30 a.m. outside Holy Family Catholic Church, 2400 S. Franklin (where at least 3 credibly accused predator priests worked) and 10:00 a.m. outside St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 407 E. Eldorado (where at least 4 credibly accused predator priests worked)
A St. Louis victim of clergy sexual abuse who is the former national director of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
---1) At least 15 Catholic clerics who are or were in Decatur are deemed ‘credibly accused’ child molesters, according to a five-year investigation and lengthy report issued on May 23 by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. The document is harshly critical of Catholic officials across the state.
Several offenders are largely still ‘under the radar,’ SNAP contends, and have only been ‘outed’ in recent weeks. The least well-known, the group says, is Br. Francis Skuba, who was born and died in Springfield and reportedly helped operate a small retirement home in Peoria. He is not, however, on the Springfield Diocese’s ‘credibly accused’ abusers list.
The abusers in Raoul’s report who spent time in Decatur include: Fr. Alvin Campbell, Fr. John J. “Jack” Campbell, Fr. Joseph Cullen O’Brien, Fr. Garrett Neal Dee, Fr. Eugene Costa, Fr. Robert Eager, Fr. Ray Franzen, Fr. Joseph C. Gill, Fr. Frank Martinez, Fr. Francis X. Nawn, Fr. Thomas McShane, Fr. James Patrick O’Hara, Fr. Louis C. Shea, Fr. Walter M. Weerts and Fr. Frank Westhoff.
Parishes in Decatur where these priests were include: St. Patrick (A. Campbell, Eagear, O'Brien, Westhoff), Holy Family (Dee, Costa, Franzen), St. Thomas the Apostle (Weerts, O'Hara), Our Lady of Lourdes (O’Hara) and St. James (Shea).
Other Decatur locations where these priests (((are or))) were include St. Mary Hospital (Martinez) and a Jesuit facility called St. Joseph Hall (J. Campbell, McShane, Gill, Nawn).
As best SNAP can tell, at least six Springfield diocese’s credibly accused clerics are still living: Fr. Joseph Cernich, Fr. Robert DeGrand, Fr. Kevin Downey, Fr. Francis Tebangura, Fr. Weerts, Fr. Dee and Fr. Martinez (the latter three were in Decatur). Their whereabouts are unknown.
The three most prolific predator priests in Decatur were apparently Fr. A. Campbell, Fr. Nawn, and Fr. Weerts, who reportedly faced 33, 24, and 22 accusers respectively, notes the attorney general report.
SNAP believes that other abusive priests, nuns, seminarians, brothers, bishops, or lay church employees in the Decatur area remain ‘under the radar,’ and should be on the church’s list but are not.
---2) Decatur is in the Springfield diocese, which is headed by Bishop Thomas Paprocki. He refuses to disclose the places where his proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics are or were. (The other five bishops in Illinois DO provide that information.) SNAP is urging Paprocki to reveal these locations, along with other helpful information about these accused clerics, including their photos and last known whereabouts.
---3) Finally, SNAP is begging anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered crimes or cover-ups in Illinois to contact independent sources of help like therapists, police, prosecutors, or support groups – not church officials.
BACKGROUND - Over the past several weeks, SNAP held similar events in other Illinois cities alerting the public to – and calling on church officials to add more predator priests to their diocesan ‘credibly accused’ lists. In the past, bishops in Springfield and Belleville later quietly added some of the names SNAP had brought forward.
The Springfield diocese covers dams, Bond, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Greene, Jasper, Jersey, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Menard, Moultrie, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Scott, and Shelby counties.