Norwalk Man Honored for Supporting Victims of Sexual Abuse

By John Nickerson
The Advocate [Norwalk CT]
September 24, 2004

NORWALK -- A group formed to help victims of church sexual abuse will honor a city resident at its first meeting in Fairfield County tomorrow.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests will honor Jim Alvord at its mid-Atlantic Regional Conference at Norwalk Community College.

Alvord, regional coordinator of Voice of the Faithful in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, will be given the Survivors Lifeline Award for his work on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse in Connecticut.

A 40-year Norwalk resident, Alvord in April 2002 became a founding member of St. Jerome Parish Voice, which later affiliated with Voice of the Faithful. The group's goals involve supporting survivors of church sexual abuse while also lending support to priests of integrity.

"Jim has done nothing but advocate for victims," said Landa Mauriello-Vernon, SNAP's state director. In February of this year, Mauriello-Vernon, who has a civil suit pending against a nun who she said sexually assaulted her while she was a student at Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden, helped form Connecticut's first SNAP chapter.

The following April, another chapter opened in East Hartford, Mauriello-Vernon said.

In Fairfield County, 32 priests have been accused of abuse over the past 50 years, costing the church $37.7 million in lawsuit settlements, a report released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated earlier this year.

Alvord, 70, a semiretired businessman who spends four to six hours per day on the computer keeping up with the 250 members of his organization and victims of sexual abuse, said he was honored to receive the award. Alvord is a former parish council president and serves on St. Jerome's finance committee.

The keynote speaker for the conference, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in NCC's PepsiCo theater, will be the Rev. Thomas Doyle.

Doyle, who has spoken out about abuse in the church for two decades, recently helped compile a more than 300-page document claiming Vatican officials have known about sex abuse by priests since the fourth century.

An afternoon seminar will explore Connecticut's statute of limitations, which extends back 30 years for victims of sexual abuse.


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