Ohio priest on a work visa resigns amid abuse allegations; SNAP Responds

(For Immediate Release July 19, 2022) 

The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown said Monday one of its priests will resign his position following an abuse investigation. The diocese released the findings of an independent investigation concerning a 2021 allegation against the Rev. Marian Babjak. As a result, Babjak has agreed to resign his job at Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers, effective July 6. Babjak was accused of having inappropriate physical contact with a minor, who is now an adult. Following an independent, third-party investigation, a Diocesan Review Board determined that the allegation is credible. 

To us, it is cases like this where the bravery of a victim is paramount to the blanket statements made by church officials concerning alleged abuse cases. Fact, the victim here made the Youngstown Catholic community safer. The now resigned priest, Marian Babjak, has demonstrated what we have seen as a trend, that as time marches on, more and more younger priests are being credibly accused of misconduct. Babjak was ordained in 1995.

His victim is very young to have reported abuse and we stand with them in full support. It is rare that an abusing cleric has just one victim, and we doubt it began at ordination. We hope this news encourages others who may be sitting in painful silence to find the support and courage to report their information to law enforcement. A contributing factor to this growing trend is simply because there is no diagnostic tool to screen for or identify an abuser, we are certain more priests ordained in the 90s and 2000s will eventually be outed or arrested.

Babjak also represents a troubling trend. That of a foreign priest who comes to the United States on religious visas and molests children. SNAP has tracked post clerical 2000 convictions and notes that 70% are foreign-born. Clearly, Homeland Security needs to focus on this danger. As the priest shortage becomes more exacerbated in America, it seems US bishops are recklessly lowering their standards, with predictable, dangerous results.

Every parish where Babjak worked should be asked to seek out survivors. His seminary in Slovakia should be alerted as well as where he may have worked in student assignments.  Because he was involved in priest training that involved contact with children and lay parishioners prior to his ordination, we should expect more victims from earlier in his career. Most of those victims are still a decade or more away from reaching the average age of reporting abuse, which is at around 52. Those will be his earliest victims. Victims from recent years may not come forward for another 30 years.

To our knowledge, there is no international database of catholic abusers. Babjak is just another example of why one needs to be created. Our guess is he'll move back to Europe and keep his collar. Many others have already left the United States in secrecy, something the church officials have facilitated for decades.  

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager, (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814-341-8386, [email protected])

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

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