Alleged Church Abuse Victims Group for Support
Victims Group to Help Others of Church Abuse

WLNS [Michigan]
Downloaded February 4, 2004

2/03/04 - A group of people who say they were abused by Catholic priests are on a crusade to help other victims deal with the issue and begin to heal. One man shared his story of alleged abuse in hopes of shedding some light on what he calls a dark issue.

After more than 40 years of secrecy, Jim Parker is speaking out against the Lansing Catholic Diocese. He says he wants to be a voice for other victims who suffered abuse at the hands of priests, but never came forward. Growing up in a stong Catholic family, Jim Parker aspired to be a priest, but he says it was a Lansing priest who eventually shattered that dream and destroyed his innocence.

Jim Parker: "The day I was raped was the last day I was an altar boy."

Parker says his parents asked him to keep quite, saying the claims would be bring shame to their family.

Jim Parker: "It's hell to keep quite, because the thing about sexual abuse of a child is that it affects every area of your life, for your whole life."

More than 40 years later, Parker is speaking out not only against the alleged abuse, but against the Catholic church's handling of his and similar allegations.

Jim Parker: "They try to handle it within, they're trying to keep it within the family."

Michael Diebold of the Lansing Catholic Diocese says that's not the case. He says the diocese investigates all claims of abuse.

Michael Diebold, Catholic Diocese: "The Diocese of Lansing has been up front and honest about these allegations."

Parker says he's not interested in taking any legal action. He says his mission is twofold- to be a voice for victims and to get the statue of limitations for abuse crimes erased.

Jim Parker: "It's very important that other victims, other survivors know that they're not alone, now that it's safe for them to come out and know that there's support for them, when and if they do."

Parker, who now lives in Arizona, recently started a chapter of SNAP- Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. He says it's a safe place for people to share their stories and begin the healing process. SNAP was founded in Chicago in 1992. The first SNAP meeting in the mid-Michigan area will be held next Wednesday, February 11th, at the aware shelter in Jackson. The group will meet the second Wednesday of every month. Abuse survivors and their families are invited to attend.


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