Abuse Victims Challenge Congressional Candidate Flynn

By Xiao Zhang
The Associated Press
August 31, 2004

MILWAUKEE - A group of victims of sexual abuse by priests is asking congressional candidate Matt Flynn to apologize for his past role as a lawyer representing the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee in some abuse cases.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests also wants Flynn to lay out a plan to protect children. Peter Isely, a founding member of SNAP and the group's Midwest regional director, said Tuesday that Flynn needs to answer questions about his work for the archdiocese and the concerns abuse victims have over it.

Flynn is one of three Democratic candidates vying to replace Rep. Jerry Kleczka, who is retiring, in the Milwaukee-based 4th Congressional District.

At a news conference Tuesday, Isely pointed to a map of the district with pins showing where priests with substantiated allegations of sex abuse of minors worked.

"We feel that Attorney Flynn has to answer for each of those pins," he said.

Isely accused Flynn of being involved in the firing of three Catholic school teachers and of going after victims for court costs after cases were dropped.

Flynn's campaign spokesman, Paul Vornholt, denied the allegations.

"Matt Flynn is the only candidate in this race who has offered proposals to strengthen sexual abuse laws and make it easier for victims to receive compensation from insurance companies," Vornholt said in a written statement.

Flynn represented the archdiocese when it was led by Archbishop Rembert Weakland. Weakland retired in 2002 after acknowledging the archdiocese paid $450,000 to a man who claimed Weakland sexually assaulted him in 1979 when the man was a 30-year-old graduate student. Weakland denied the assault but conceded an "inappropriate" relationship with the man.

Isely said his group does not endorse any candidates in the race but wants to make clergy abuse an issue in the campaign.

He said Flynn, unlike the other two Democratic candidates, has avoided meeting with abuse victims. Vornholt denied Flynn had avoided meeting, saying Flynn wants to meet with all kinds of groups and SNAP hadn't made a clear request.

SNAP has met with state Sens. Tim Carpenter and Gwen Moore, Flynn's opponents in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary. The winner will advance to the Nov. 2 general election.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests:

Matt Flynn campaign:


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