More Victims of Priest Abuse Coming Forward

WTOL [Toledo OH]
Downloaded April 29, 2004

TOLEDO -- The murder case against a Toledo catholic priest has more victims coming forward. That according to a group representing victims of abuse. But these victims are not stepping up to make accusations against Father Gerald Robinson, the man accused of killing a nun 24 years ago.

Father Robinson is still in jail and we want to emphasize none of the new victims are accusing him of anything, but somehow his arrest appears to have given the victims courage to the point where SNAP Leader Claudia Vercellotti said in the past five days her phone has been ringing off the hook. She said a conservative estimate is that 10 new victims are stepping forward with allegations. "A lot of times survivors wait and watch and it's hard to break their silence," said Vercellotti. "So I give a lot of credit to those who've called especially in the last few days," she added.

Vercellotti said some of the people are from Toledo who've moved away and some are still in northwestern Ohio. She said this proves there are many more victims than the diocese is willing to admit. "We know there are cases that exist that haven't been publicly acknowledged," Vercellotti told us. "We know that the diocese knows we know about these cases," she added.

When it comes to news of 10 new victims coming forward, Vercellotti said not all center around the Toledo Diocese. A University of Toledo religious studies expert Dr. Richard Gaillardetz said SNAP has done a great job for victims. He said all allegations should be investigated thoroughly although, there are occasions SNAP jumps the gun a bit. "I do think sometimes and I understand it, they are somewhat severe in their expectations about how quickly the church should act against accusations," Gaillardetz said.

Vercellotti said she just wants the credible, well known accusations to be followed through and sometimes there's a perception that all are out on the table but, "What I'm learning in the worst way possible is that's not the case," Vercellotti told us.

We're told Bishop Leonard Paul Blair is in Rome, but we did talk to a diocese spokesperson who said the diocese doesn't know anything about new victims coming forward. The diocese has said in the past, it has made it a point to work with victims and help prevent any more abuse from happening.


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