Priest-Abuse Support Group Planned
Kentucky Chapter Organizer Is Suing Owensboro Diocese

By Deborah Yetter
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
June 25, 2002

An Owensboro man plans to announce today the formation of a Kentucky-based chapter of the national support group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Gerald Payne, 45, of Owensboro, said he is forming the group for people in Kentucky, Southern Indiana and southern Illinois.

Payne, a business recruiter, has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Owensboro alleging he was abused at age 11 in the 1960s by a priest at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Owensboro. The lawsuit, filed March 28 in Daviess Circuit Court, is pending.

Owensboro Bishop John McRaith yesterday declined to comment on the lawsuit. He said it's the only lawsuit he's aware of in the Owensboro diocese alleging past abuse by a priest.

A total of 133 lawsuits have been filed against the Archdiocese of Louisville since mid-April alleging sexual abuse by priests.

Payne said he got the idea of forming a Kentucky-based chapter after attending the group's national meeting in Dallas two weeks ago. It was held at the same time as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' gathering on how to deal with abusive clergy.

SNAP, as the national survivors group is known, has a number of chapters, but none in the Kentucky region.

Payne said the Kentucky-based organization would provide information to alleged victims and refer them to places where they could get therapy, such as community treatment centers.

"We would encourage anyone to come forward and get the help they need," he said.

Payne's lawsuit says he was a student at the Lourdes parish when he was allegedly molested by the Rev. Raymond Waldruff.

The lawsuit alleges Waldruff threatened Payne and his family with harm if the boy told anyone about the abuse.

Payne's lawsuit alleges the diocese knew or should have known of Waldruff's conduct but failed to stop it.

Church officials have told him Waldruff died in the 1980s, Payne said.


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