Victims to write accused names on sidewalk
Victims ‘out’ five more publicly accused priests
“Bishop’s list is deceptive and incomplete,” they say
In surprising move, they praise prelate for his “more inclusive list”
Braxton, unlike most of his peers, exposes those who prey on adults
SNAP: “But alleged abusers’ photos & whereabouts should be added”
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will disclose – and write on the sidewalk with chalk - the names of five more publicly accused priests who are or were in the Belleville diocese but have essentially been ‘under the radar,’ attracting attention elsewhere but not in Illinois.
They will also praise Belleville’s bishop for including clerics who have assaulted adults on his ‘accused’ list-a move most bishops do not make.
And they’ll prod Belleville Catholic officials to
--reveal the names of ALL proven, admitted and ‘credibly accused’ predator priests,
--permanently and prominently post their photos, whereabouts and work histories on church websites, and
--‘aggressively reach out’ to anyone who may have been hurt by church staff.
Thursday, March 28 at 11:15 a.m.
On the sidewalk outside Belleville Catholic headquarters (“chancery office”) 222 South Third St. in Belleville, IL
Two – four victims and advocates who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including a St. Louis man who was the group's former long time executive director, and members of concerned Belleville area Catholics called Faithful of Southern Illinois
1---More than 100 US bishops have posted names of credibly accused abusive clerics on their websites. But most limit their lists to those who have assaulted kids, not adults. SNAP believes both should be included, especially because of the immense power priests have over even those who are 18 or older. The group will praise Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton for including clerics who have engaged in “serious sexual misconduct with adults.”
2---Last year, facing pressure from then-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton quietly posted a list of 17 credibly accused abusive clerics on his website.
But SNAP has discovered five more publicly accused clerics who Braxton left off his list and who have escaped virtually any attention for their time in southern Illinois.
One of the five was ‘outed’ last month as a credibly accused abuser by his own church supervisors. Another was ‘outed’ the same way five years ago. Three were ‘outed’ last week by a St. PaulMN attorney.
The five are:
--Fr. Paul Joseph Bruening, who was originally from the Sioux City Iowa diocese but started working in the Belleville diocese in 1962. He was pastor of St. Rose of Lima parish in Metropolis IL from 1970 -1975 and pastor of St. Ann parish in Nashville IL from 1975-1978.
He was ‘outed’ as a credibly accused abuser last month by Sioux City Iowa Bishop Walter Nickless. He is deceased.
--Fr. Donald Dummer was ‘outed’ as one a cleric with substantiated accusations against him by the St. Paul archdiocese in 2014. He also worked in South Dakota and Wisconsin. His last known address was in Tewksbury Massachusetts.
Fr. Dummer’s faculties were removed in 2006. Church documents released in a civil settlement revealed that a church worker found child porn videos in Fr .Dummer's room in early 1997 and again in early 1998. The worker said she gave the videos in 1998 to the St. Paul archdiocesan vicar general who destroyed them. Another document suggests that Fr. Joseph Hitpas of the Oblates said he would destroy the porn. Fr. Dummer denied wrongdoing. In the 1970s, he taught at Altoff Catholic High School in Belleville.
--Fr. Gavin O’Connor was ordained a priest for the Bridgeport diocese in 1977. In 1989, Bridgeport’s bishop suspended him and persuaded him to leave the priesthood after substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse were made against him. O’Connor was reportedly defrocked in 1989.
He allegedly sexually abused three boys from the same family from 1977 to 1985. It was alleged that Bridgeport’s bishop paid Fr. O’Connor to cover personal debts and living expenses when he left the priesthood in exchange for his silence.
Fr. O’Connor has been accused by at least three survivors of child sexual abuse and named in at least two civil lawsuits. Both lawsuits later were settled out of court.
He also worked in Arizona and it is believed Fr. O’Connor went on to co-own a real estate office in San Diego, California. From 1985-1988, he was a chaplain in Marion Illinois and
In 1988 he was at St. Joseph’s parish in Cobden Illinois, both in the Belleville diocese.
--Fr. Ronald E. Brassard is originally from the Providence Rhode Island diocese. He was named in a 1995 lawsuit for reportedly abusing a teenage boy in the early 1980s while assigned to Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL. When the allegations arose, Providence church officials, claiming inconsistencies in the allegations, took no action and let him remain an active priest.
Fr. Brassard is believed to be living in Providence, RI.
--Fr. Joseph P. Lessard is a serial sexual predator who has admitted to sexually abusing at least 12 boys in three parishes in the 1970s, allegedly threatening some victims with a gun. In 2005-2006, he was accused of abusing at two hospital chaplaincy jobs he held in 1980s after being sent to a church-run treatment center. The last known allegation of sexual abuse against him came in 2005.
He worked in these Missouri towns: Hillsboro, St. Charles, Gardenville, Moselle and Chesterfield. From 1994-2003, he was in Prairie du Rocher, IL. In 2008, he was living in Queen Creek, AZ.
The presence of Frs. Lessard, Brassard and O’Connor in southern Illinois was disclosed or confirmed last week in a widely-publicized report issued by St. Paul MN attorney Jeff Anderson.
With these news disclosures, SNAP has revealed 14 publicly accused priests, nearly as many as Braxton did when he posted his list of 17 accused clerics.
For the safety of kids, SNAP wants Braxton to warn his flock about these men – using church bulletins, parish websites and pulpit announcements – and add them to his ‘accused’ list and include their photos, whereabouts and full work histories.
2) In January, SNAP discovered and/or ‘outed’ nine other publicly accused abusive Belleville clerics that are not on Braxton’s list, most of whom abused elsewhere but also worked in the diocese. They are: Fr. Larry Lorenzoni, Fr. Kenneth J. Roberts, Fr. Fred Lenczycki, Fr. Thomas Meyer, Fr. Emil Twardochleb, Fr. Michael Charland, Fr. Orville Munie, Fr. Paul Kabat and Fr. James Vincent Fitzgerald. They too should be added to Braxton’s list, SNAP says.
3) SNAP is also calling on “anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or cover ups by Illinois clerics to call local law enforcement and Illinois’ attorney general who is investigating all of the state’s eight dioceses.
David Clohessy 314 443 5915 or 314 566 9790, [email protected], Zach Hiner 517 974 9009, [email protected], Anne Harter, Faithful of Southern Illinois, 618 593 7891, [email protected]