IL-- Victims urge parishioners to show compassion

For immediate release: Friday, Sept. 4

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790,,

Every time parishioners rally around a credibly accused child molesting cleric, it’s sad, tiresome and hurtful, to vulnerable kids, wounded and ultimately to the parish itself.

That’s what’s happening now in Peoria with Fr. Terry Cassidy, who was suspended last month by Bishop Daniel Jenky because of an abuse report.

It’ sad because it show how desperately people want to believe that a seemingly normal man can commit such heinous crimes. And it’s sad because it shows how little many church-goers have learned about child sex abuse in the 30 years since the first US pedophile priest attracted national headlines.

It’s tiresome because the same pattern emerges in case after case after case. Parishioners are “shocked.” Because the priest is good at this or that – homilies, service work, one-on-one counseling or boosting church membership – parishioners somehow can’t imagine that he can simultaneously be sick at some deep emotional level. Because congregants and church-goers desperately grasp for some “other explanation” (like the Episcopal minister who thinks Fr. Cassidy has been thrown “under the bus” because of some theological or liturgical dispute).

And it’s hurtful because public support for credibly accused abusers intimidates and depresses victims, witnesses and whistleblowers. It makes people less willing to report known and suspected child sex crimes. So it makes kids more vulnerable.

The bishop and parishioners are essentially playing 'good cop, bad cop.' The bishop suspended Fr. Cassidy. Yet at the same time, he lets parishioners publicly rally and back a credibly accused abuser.

Instead, he should be circulating this among his flock:

Jenky can't have his cake and eat it too. He can't claim to be concerned about clergy sex abuse victims, yet allow an alleged predator’s backers frighten those same victims.

If Jenky cares about child molestation victims, he'll show some spine and teach his flock how to more appropriately, and quietly, support an accused child molesting cleric so that others who were molested won’t be further hurt and silenced.

Kids are safe in institutions that invite and welcome reports of suspected abuse, not in institutions that instantly rally around accused criminals. These well-meaning Catholics are inadvertently making their church a more dangerous place by their public support of an alleged child molesting cleric, and their bishop sits back letting this happen.

If someone wants to support Fr. Cassidy, the Christian way to do it is quietly and privately, so that others with information about his alleged crimes won't be scared into staying quiet.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 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

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell,,, Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell,, Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,, Jeff Jones (815-985-9441,


Peoria church parishioners shocked by sex allegations against pastor

Pam Adams -Journal Star reporter, Posted Sep. 2, 2015 at 8:44 PM

PEORIA — In spite of the Catholic church’s decades-long entanglements in sex abuse scandals, parishioners of St. Ann Church were still jolted by news that their pastor, the Rev. Terry Cassidy, was the subject of allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor.

“It’s shocking. People are just bewildered and confused. It’s just not a good thing,” said John Carlson, a member of St. Ann, where Cassidy has served as pastor since 1999.

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced Aug. 26 that  . . .

Read full article here


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