WA--Clergy abuse victim pens memoir

For immediate release: Monday, Nov. 17, 2014

For more information: David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Director (314) 566-9790 cell, [email protected]

Seattle clergy sex abuse victim publishes memoir

Support group says “honest, searing book” can help with healing

A Seattle woman has published a memoir about her childhood abuse by a priest, her adult years as a nun, her recovery and her advocacy for others who have been victimized.  And she will read from it at a “book launch celebration” this Sunday, Nov. 23 at 4:30 p.m. at the University Book Store in Bellevue.

Mary Dispenza wrote “SPLIT: Child, A Priest and the Catholic Church,” in part about the suffering she endured when she was repeatedly molested, starting at age seven, by Fr. George Neville Rucker of the Los Angeles archdiocese. For years, she repressed the memories of that trauma.

A decade ago, as an adult, she sued Catholic officials as one of some 550 victims hurt by Los Angeles priests. It became the largest-ever settlement ever involving the Catholic church, totaling $660 million.

Now, Dispenza is the Seattle area leader of a support group for clergy sex abuse victims called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Rucker is accused of molesting almost 40 youngsters.




The book is available in both print and e-book form on Amazon and books stores.

Dispenza said that she hopes is that the book will “land where it needs to be - especially in the hands if victim/survivors who long for complete healing and who work for the day that the ongoing systematic abuse of children by clergy stops.”

“Bishops and clergy can profit from this account of one survivor and the role of the Church in protecting priest offenders,” she added.

Leaders of SNAP are praising the book. 

“We are confident that many adults who’ve endured horrific childhood victimization will benefit from SPLIT,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “We’re incredibly proud of Mary for have the courage to write this book and the skills to write it so well.”

“Mary’s story is one of confronting and triumphing over trauma,” Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach California, SNAP's western regional director. “It’s instructive and inspirational.”

At one point, Dispenza met with now-retired LA Cardinal Roger Mahony, telling him “we’re only as sick as our secrets.”


Here is a synopsis of the book:

At age seven, Mary Dispenza was raped by her parish priest. The event split Mary in two, then vanished from memory. Carrying an unaccountable sense of shame, Mary clung to Catholic liturgy and dogma for support and entered the convent, where for 15 years she lived as a nun, separate from the world. Decades later, when a memory of the pedophile priest resurfaced, Mary's will to survive and her quest to understand the unforgivable, led her to join forty-five other men and women abused by priests, in the largest-ever successful lawsuit against the Catholic Church. As scandals involving sexual abuse continue to roil the Catholic Church and survivors of abuse fight to make the Church atone for its sins, each abused person must find a way to mend the schism inside. SPLIT, the story of Mary's journey to wholeness, takes the reader from horrifying scenes of child abuse, inside the unfamiliar world of the novitiate, through the delicate and frightening process of accepting homosexuality, and culminates in epic courtroom battles. Readers seeking to understand how this terrible injustice happens, and how so much has been kept secret for so long will find some answers in this honest memoir. Mary Dispenza, now an activist for ending the epidemic of abuse, speaks passionately about one ‘SPLIT’ we desperately need – the one that separates the Church from its mantle of secrecy.



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