Shaun Dougherty, victim advocate and survivor of clergy sex abuse, makes a bid for the state Senate
One of the most outspoken and recognizable faces in the clergy sex abuse survivor community is taking his public advocacy up another notch: Shaun Dougherty is making a bid to represent the state’s 35th Senatorial District.
Doughtery, a Democrat from Johnstown, on Friday officially filed his candidacy with the state, and by Monday expects to launch his campaign.
The 35th District represents Cambria and Bedford counties, along with parts of Clearfield County.
Dougherty’s candidacy brings him full circle to a pivotal moment that changed his life and, he said, marked the beginning of his healing.
Four years ago, Dougherty had not ever been to the state Capitol when he agreed to meet there with PennLive to finally come out and share his story of sexual abuse as a child at the hands of a priest.
The visit and the revelations he shared propelled Dougherty to become a public figure within clergy sex abuse survivor community, and one of its most ardent advocates.
Since that time, Dougherty has advocated on behalf of victims and has pushed for legislative reforms that would address justice for victims. He has appeared on dozens of major TV networks, including CNN,MSNBC and NBC; and has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and such overseas outlets as News 24 France.
Time and again over the past four years, Dougherty was a fixture under the Capitol Rotunda, where he could be found pacing the marble hallways as lawmakers in the two chambers deliberated critical proposals poised to impact the lives of thousands of child sex abuse victims.
The irony is not lost on him.
“What’s the historic value for me personally?,” said Dougherty, 50. “Everybody asks what’s healing. Everyone heals in different ways and healing is different to everyone. That’s powerful healing for me. The separation of church and state is important. If I get to cast a vote along with all the other votes that I would cast over a four-year term, it would be an honor. A true, true honor.”
The district is currently represented by Sen. Wayne Langerholc, a Re...