Attorney ensures victims' stories are told

WILMINGTON — In the spring of 2011, when attorneys representing 152 victims of sexual abuse by priests were close to settling with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, attorney Thomas Neuberger made a promise to his clients.

No matter what happened with the settlement, he said, he would make sure their stories were told – free of the filter of media or church – by writing a book.

“They wanted to make sure their voices would be heard, and they wouldn’t be forgotten,” Neuberger said.

After more than a year away from his law firm, Neuberger has fulfilled his promise publishing, “When Priests Become Predators: Profiles of Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors.”

The 427-page book, with an additional 40 pages of footnotes, has been sent free of charge to a number of libraries across the country, where Neuberger hopes it will be a valuable reference for others dealing with or studying child sexual abuse.

Much of the book is drawn directly from court transcripts and depositions from legal actions against or involving the Diocese of Wilmington, its parishes and abuser priests.

Diocese officials declined to comment on Neuberger’s book.

John Vai, one of 12 sex abuse survivors whose stories are chronicled, praised the book and said his one-time attorney did “a wonderful job with summarizing the whole experience of the victim.”

The sexual abuse “burned us all, and it will never go away,” Vai said.

It was shortly after Vai’s civil case went to trial in December 2010, when a jury ordered St. Elizabeth Church to compensate Vai $3 million plus $1 for abuse he suffered as a child, that the Diocese of Wilmington reached a settlement with victims in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

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