and Their Friends and Families
All the information on this Web site has ultimately become
public through the courage and determination shown by the survivors
of sexual abuse by priests. They have given speeches and granted
interviews, as SNAP founder Barbara Blaine did in Rome during the
selection of Pope Benedict XVI. They have written to bishops and
spoken before the bishops' conference. And they have prepared sworn
statements for use in legal proceedings.
Every instance of survivor's witness is precious. Their interviews
made investigative reporting possible and their speeches caused
the crisis to unfold. Their affidavits and other accounts are the
most exact and touching record we have of the catastrophe.
Affidavits | Janssen Affidavits
| Note on the Texts | Dallas
| Pecharich Complaints | Accounts
in Depth | Speaking and Healing
| Boston and Manchester | Thanks
We offer these accounts in the hope that the voices of survivors will reach
a wider audience. Many of these stories are taken from hard-to-find legal
and diocesan documents, or appeared originally in small publications, or
were spoken to small gatherings. Where large numbers of people met survivors
and heard them speak—as in Boston—the effect has been profound.
The accounts below are the smallest selection of a total narrative that
would include the witness of thousands of victims. Please email
us if you can supply a missing piece.
Photographs of survivors are important and poignant documents of the crisis.
When an old family photograph shows the survivor at the time of the abuse,
the violation of innocence is painfully clear. When a newspaper prints a
picture of a survivor holding an old photograph dating from the time of
the abuse, the survivor's long journey from victimization to independence
is compressed into a single image. The photographs on this page are a small
sample of the tens of thousands of such portraits that exist. Each was printed
in a newspaper to illustrate an account of a survivor or family member.
Please click on a photo to read the article where it first appeared.
Affidavits by Boston Victims of Paul R. Shanley
These remarkable affidavits below were included in a memorandum submitted
to the court by lawyers for Gregory Ford in Ford et al. v. Law et al. They
provide very direct descriptions of Shanley's abuse of boys during nearly
30 years (1961–88), often including anal rape. They also offer a group
portrait of his courageous accusers, and of the evolving methods and arguments
that Shanley used to entrap them when they were children.
Sworn Affidavits by the Davenport
Victims of Janssen and His Circle
These affidavits were submitted to the court by Craig Levien, attorney
for James Wells and John Doe III in their suits against James Janssen
et al. They document the sufferings of Iowa boys molested by a ring of
abusive priests including Revs. James M. Janssen, Francis E. Bass, James
W. Murphy, and T. Anthony Geerts. The ring seems to have begun at Kenrick
Seminary in St. Louis, from which Janssen, Bass, and Murphy graduated
on the Texts: We have redacted names and personal
details from court and diocesan documents in order to protect the
identity of the survivors. Several organizations and individuals have
made important contributions to survivor witness. SNAP
and the Healing
Alliance have provided the support that enabled survivors to come
forward with their accounts, and SNAP has collected the writings
and speeches of survivors. Some accounts from the SNAP collection
are included below. Voice
of the Faithful provided national and local audiences where survivors
could tell their stories.
to the U.S. Bishops' Conference in Dallas on June 13, 2002
Diocesan Complaint File of Rev. Michael Pecharich
The accounts found in diocesan files are often very different from the
sworn affidavits presented above. In order to write, the victim or family
member must overcome the deference and even awe that bishops are accorded.
They must approach a mysterious bureaucracy where the victim's strongest
feelings collide—an attachment shaped by upbringing and education,
and an aversion to the institution where the violation occurred. The accounts
in a diocesan file, even a file that has been sanitized, can also reveal
what the bishop knew and when he knew it. Such is the case with the file
of Rev. Michael Pecharich, one of many released in the Orange diocese
thanks to the determination of survivor Joelle Casteix. [The first year
is the date of the abuse. The second date shows when the diocese received
the account. The accounts are listed in the order they were received by
- A Statement
to "Bishop" John B McCormack Presented at a Meeting with Survivors
of Joe Birmingham, by Paul Cultrera, with links to the documents
(1964; 1/9/2003); and Dear
Mom and Dad, letter by Paul Cultrera to Josephine and Paul Cultrera
(1964; 3/17/02). See also the website of the documentary Hand
of God; the website of the movie's PBS
Frontline broadcast; the assignment
record of Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham with links to documents, articles,
and survivors' witness; and Pattern
& Practice: Birmingham (7/21/03), in Ford et al. v. Law et al.,
with links to documents.
were befriended by a priest by the name of Richard L. LaVigne –
A careful account of the methods of grooming and abuse employed by Rev.
Richard L. Lavigne, of the Springfield MA diocese. Lavigne pled guilty
to abusing two boys, and was given probation. He remains a suspect in
the murder of Danny Croteau, an altar boy who was sexually abused by
Lavigne. This account is a document in the Croteau murder investigation
file. (1986; 10/9/91)
Paul is perverted – A 13-year-old girl's 1980 account
of working at her parish rectory and being abused by Rev. Paul J. Finegan.
A cousin was also abused, she said. The girl's older sister forwarded
her sister's letter to the Boston archdiocese, which suggested that
immediate solution for your sister would be to resign her position."
A chancery note states that the older sister "called
on phone to say that the matter had been resolved," but she
later denied this in an affidavit.
Despite the complaint, Finegan continued to work at his parish, and
parishioners even protested his eventual transfer.
In 1989, renewed
complaints, brought to Cardinal Law's attention by a priest,
revealed an even broader pattern of abuse. Yet after Finegan was evaluated
he remained in his parish for four years and then worked in two others
record). A 1998 attempt to "red-flag"
his file, because he'd admitted abuse and was alleged to have "other
victims," was transformed into a "purely
administrative" proposal that his "dormant file"
be stored in the "strictly confidential" archives and his
case closed. Less than a year later, Cardinal
Law made Finegan a pastor. In early 2002 his resignation ("what
I did, I did") was accepted
by Law, only after a nun in the Springfield MA diocese wrote to
Law that she "had
been informed by a credible young man that he was abused sexually as
a minor" by Finegan. Later that year, a
woman sued the archdiocese for abuse inflicted on her by Finegan
in 1981-84 when she was a minor. Also named in the suit was Rev. Gilbert
S. Phinn, the chancery official who had failed to act on the first complaint.
on a "fault" line – David Coleman's account of his
abuse by Rev. Richard T. Coughlin, his meeting with Rev. John B. McCormack
to report the abuse, and his later discovery that Coughlin was in ministry
in Orange CA. Coleman's recovery led to Coughlin's removal. See also
attorney MacLeish's description
of the Coughlin case, our collection of Coughlin documents,
and in particular McCormack's "lost" notes
of his 1985 meeting with Coleman (1957-63; 12/16/92)
- My Story
– Testimony by Donald Bondick before the Ohio state legislature.
Bondick recreates the culture of his midwest upbringing and the shock
of abuse by Rev. Ted Feely, who is also the subject of a series
in the Rock River Times. See our assignment
record of Feely. (1969; 11/22/05)
Truth—and My Voice (by Cynthia Desrosiers, 6/3/99)
Invocation—To Paul Shanley, My Abuser (by Arthur Austin, 1/31/02)
at the First Release of Shanley Documents (by Arthur Austin, 4/08/02)
Took You So Long? (by Phil Saviano, 7/20/02)
Are Not Alone (by Mark Furnish, 10/12/02)
Careful What You Wish For (by Bill Gately, 1/03)
in Eden Prairie (by Belinda Martinez, 7/31/03)
Catholics, Why Have You Forsaken Us? (by Peter Pollard, 8/1/03)
at St. Hugh Parish Voice (by Sr. Sally Butler, 9/22/03)
Clancy's Story (by Patricia Clancy, 1/31/04)
Would Fr. Brown Do Such an Awful Thing to My Little Brother (testimony
by Judy Jones, 12/8/05)
I Ever Confront My Abuser, You May Wonder (testimony by Anna Marie
Bishop Was More Interested in Money Than in Our Son's Healing (testimony
by Helen Schoeppner, 12/8/05)
Wanted to Be a Saint (interview of Susan Gallagher in 11/05)
- Video Pennsylvania
Survivors (produced by SNAP Philadelphia, posted 8/7/06)
- I Know from
Personal Experience (testimony of Helen Daly on Maryland SB 575,
Was No Holy Man (testimony of David Lorenz on Maryland SB 575, 3/1/07)
Web site is dedicated to the survivors and their families and loved
ones. All the information on this site has ultimately become
public through the courage and determination shown by the survivors
of sexual abuse by priests. Please email
us with your account, and let us know about media reports that
profile survivors. We appreciate your help in building this archive.
Return to the BishopAccountability.org