SNAP responds as yet another priest in Indiana is accused of sexual misconduct

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 7, 2022)

Father Bernie Etienne, who worked at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, has been removed from public ministry after the Diocese of Evansville received an accusation of sexual misconduct against the clergyman stemming from 20 years ago. Father Etienne is on administrative leave and is not able to act as a priest while the complaint is investigated. 

The Diocese did not expand on the nature of the accusation -- where it occurred or the gender and age of the victim. The Director of Communications for the Diocese simply said, "Civil authorities and the Diocesan Review Board have been notified. Father Bernie strongly denies the claim and, as with all accused, he is accorded the presumption of innocence during the investigation of this allegation."

However, we know that false allegations of sexual abuse are extremely rare. While it is not entirely clear whether the accusation involves a child or an adult, the fact that it was reported to law enforcement leads us to suspect that the victim was below the age of consent. We applaud the survivor for coming forward, and we observe that victims who were abused in the 1990s or early 2000s are now beginning to speak out.

The Catholic Church likes to claim that clergy sexual abuse is a thing of the past. However, we know that it often takes survivors decades to work up the courage to share what happened to them. Reports of abuse by trusted clergy are very likely to continue into the future.

Father Etienne worked in the following parishes: St. Joseph, Jasper; St. Joseph, Princeton; Blessed Sacrament, Oakland City; Holy Rosary, Evansville; and Nativity, Evansville. He was also the diocesan chaplain for Southwestern Indiana Teens Encounter Christ, diocesan director of vocations, diocesan vicar general, and diocesan administrator.

We encourage anyone who may have experienced, witnessed, or suspected any harm or impropriety in the Catholic Church in Indiana to report directly to law enforcement.

SNAP resources for survivors are available at www.snapnetwork.org/resources_for_survivors. We have information as well as weekly support groups specifically for those who suffered clergy abuse as a child or as an adult.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]), Jim Brigl, SNAP Leader Indiana (260-302-4003, [email protected] )

 

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is www.snapnetwork.org)


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  • Michael McDonnell
    published this page in Media Statements 2022-04-07 15:13:03 -0500

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