Survivors, supporters voice concerns over Milwaukee's bankruptcy plan

By Marie Rohde

March 26, 2014

MILWAUKEE-- For 30 years, the Milwaukee archdiocese has provided therapy for the victims of clergy sex abuse. The plan it released as part of its bankruptcy reorganization plan is a continuation of that program.

"The protocols have their roots back to Project Benjamin days and have proven to be an effective and responsible way to administer the therapy program which abuse survivors have benefited for decades and which remains a priority for the archdiocese," Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for the archbishop, said in an email.

The archdiocese established Project Benjamin in 1989 to deal with the growing sex abuse scandal. While the Milwaukee archdiocese said it served as a template of providing therapy for victims, it fell under heavy criticism by survivors who maintain that any program should not be run by the church.

Survivors of clergy sex abuse and their supporters point out parts of the bankruptcy plan that give the Milwaukee archdiocese unilateral control over how much therapy is provided, who will get it, and which therapists to use, as well as requiring victims to turn over treatment records to the archdiocese. It also provides that the archdiocese can change the plan without court permission or oversight.

"That makes it pretty much not worth the paper it is written on," said Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea, a leading expert on the trauma of childhood sex abuse. "It's like signing a mortgage that says the interest rate and the monthly payment can change at any time at the sole discretion of the bank."

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  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-03-27 13:21:03 -0500
    It seems there is no end to the humiliation and pain and suffering the catholic church hierarchy are willing to subject the survivors to.
    We have got to demand a sea change. We need to criticize our own President(s), both past and present, who have “cow-towed” to catholic popes. Those who have not publicly said that the catholic church must make an end to the “corporate policy” of sexually abusing the children of the earth who have had the misfortune to be “raised in the catholic church” by actively catholic pedophile priests, catholic laity and catholic employees.
    It’s nearly impossible not to be depressed by this, and nearly impossible not to be depressed by the fact that President O’Bama is with pope francis, at the vatican TODAY, and to this time this morning (11:15 pdt) there has been no mention or any discussion by either our President, or the pope, or the media of this scourge and scandal and heinous, egregious crimes being committed IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCHES, DAILY as “we speak” (or, as I write). It’s hard to know or even imagine if any of the public figures of influence, who can and should speak to this issue with courage, will ever do so. Actually, if they really need courage to speak it could be simple for them, if they would only READ AND REFER TO THE NEW TESTAMENT BOOKS AND CHAPTERS IN THE BIBLE, WHERE CHRIST HIMSELF, SPEAKS, in;
    Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2.
    I believe that the president of the United States should speak to these crimes with every bit as much importance and urgency that he addresses the loss of lives of women, children and men in the current Syrian civil war, and everywhere else, such as the Ukraine, and many countries in Africa, etc. that innocent children are being attacked, ruined for life, starved and killed.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-03-27 13:00:54 -0500
    It’s nearly impossible not to be depressed by this.

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