Clergy abuse advocates speak out about predator priests in Columbia

Two clergy abuse advocates from mid-Missouri spoke out Wednesday at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on the need for people to know the truth about predator priests who might still be hiding and living in the community.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is a support group for people who have been injured by “religious and institutional authorities,” according to the organization’s website.

David Clohessy, the group’s former executive director and a survivor of clergy abuse, held a news conference in front of the church. He held up cardboard signs bearing the names of alleged predator priests who have lived in Columbia. He was joined by Bob Heinz, a member of a similar organization, Voice of the Faithful, who held up pictures of clergy abuse victims.

“In a nutshell, SNAP has two missions: to protect the vulnerable and to heal the wounded,” Clohessy said.

He started the news conference by naming four “credibly accused” priests who allegedly molested children and were accused in other cities but had previously worked and lived in Columbia: former priest Fred Lenczycki, Fr. Kenneth J. Roberts, Fr. John Baskett (deceased) and Fr. James Gummersbach. Their names have not been added to Bishop W. Shawn McKnight’s list of priests who are credibly accused or removed from ministry in the Diocese of Jefferson City.

Lenczycki pleaded guilty to molesting three children in Illinois and was sentenced in 2014. In February, he was charged with abusing two boys in the 1990s at a St. Louis County parish.

Clohessy said he got these names from BishopAccountability.org, which is based on the official Catholic Directory and news stories.

None of the Catholic churches in Colum...

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