Clergy abuse: Activist asks Wausau church-goers to lobby La Crosse Diocese for openness

WAUSAU - Dozens of flyers fluttered under windshield wipers in the late morning breeze Sunday as parishioners left St. Michael Catholic Church in Wausau. 

The flyers were neatly tucked there by David Clohessy, a member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. As parishioners began leaving the church, he handed them out, asking people to take them home and read them. 

His goal, he said, was to bring awareness to the fact that the La Crosse Diocese still hasn't released a list of credibly accused abusers, members of the clergy who sexually abused young children and are known by the church. He's hoping that the flyers, which target five specific former priests, will cause the parishioners to go home and talk and even call the bishop, William Callahan, and demand more openness. 

SNAP often holds events and advocates for changes in laws to protect victims, as well as recognition of abusive clergy by the Catholic Church. Clohessy has been working with the organization for years, including formerly as executive director. He's no stranger to handing out flyers as people leave church, he said, having done it nearly 35 times in recent years. 

He's a victim himself, he said. He and three of his brothers were abused by a priest in Missouri, he said. He still gets emotional about it. 

"I want to protect kids and heal victims," he said. "I want to deter these crimes from happening again." 

Clohessy on Sunday morning drove to Wausau to raise awareness of five priests he believes resided within the La Crosse Diocese and have been credibly accused. He was supposed to be joined by Wausau resident Zach Hiner, also an abuse survivor, but he fell sick, Clohessy said.

Clohessy claimed it was possible that all of the named priests could have assaulted minors during their time within the diocese, even if not there on assignm...

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