MN - Duluth predator priests names released; SNAP responds

For immediate release: Tuesday December 31, 2013

Statement by Verne Wagner, Northeast MN director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), 218-340-1277,[email protected]

We are glad that Bishop Sirba is releasing the names of credibly accused priests here in the Northland. Kids are safer every time a child molester is exposed. Having more names of predator priests in the news today in Duluth is a first step in transparency, outreach to victims and support for them.  But this is a first step, and we hope Bishop Sirba will open and release files and documents that tell where and when alleged abuse took place, and the actions that the Bishops did or didn’t take.  With the release of these predator priests, we also hope the bishop includes photos of these clerics as well as their history.

When I filed my lawsuit against the Duluth Diocese and it made the news, other victims of Fr. John Nickelson called me saying they thought they were the only ones he molested. This information should never have been kept secret.

Just this week, we learned about former priest Harry Walsh a credibly accused child molester.  He was never disciplined by the Twin Cities archbishop and was – until a week or so ago - working with troubled teens and vulnerable adults in Wright County here in Minnesota teaching sex education. Think about that! A child molester who was never disciplined by Catholic officials teaching sex ed to trouble kids and vulnerable adults with no warning given to his county by the diocese. Walsh’s past crimes were kept secret until outed by a former victim of his.

For the church to move forward, it’s important that all this information come out to learn how to never repeat it so Catholic officials can better protect kids right now.  Still, we hope today's disclosure will prod others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups in Minnesota to step forward, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.

As a SNAP member and volunteer, I urge victims of these priests to contact us for support. So many victims carry this secret their whole lives and talk about how it causes them depression and shame.  This shame and depression can cause substance abuse, relationship problems and even suicide as one of Northland victim did. We have a support group that meets monthly here in the Northland and telling your story sometimes for the first time to anyone is very healing. I urge victims to contact SNAP at

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell,[email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747[email protected]) Verne Wagner (218-340-1277,[email protected]), Bob Schwiderski (952 471 3422,[email protected])

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant