Priest Abuse Victims Target Two Churches

By Brian Harmon
New York Daily News [Long Island NY]
November 23, 2004

An in-your-face approach to drawing out victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests is taking hold in Nassau County.

Members of two victims' groups have waited outside Mass at churches in Farmingdale and East Meadow the last two weekends, handing out leaflets that urge other victims to come forward.

So far, three victims who had never reported being abused have contacted Long Island Voice of the Faithful and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, members said.

"Three victims talked to us for the first time, but were not yet ready to give personal information," said David Cerulli, executive director of the group's New York region. "Hopefully, they will call to attend a support group meeting. Like fishing, we just have to be patient."

The three latest victims from Long Island's Diocese of Rockville Centre came forward during the survivors' groups first weekend of "vigils" outside St. Killian's in Farmingdale, said Lisa Braglia of Voice of the Faithful.

"Working together, SNAP and Long Island Voice of the Faithful hope to achieve justice, consolation and healing for those who have been victimized," Braglia said.

Diocese officials have refused to cooperate with survivors' efforts; at St. Killian's, the survivors were told not to hand out their materials while standing on church grounds, a diocesan spokesman said.

"This is not a contest to see who's going to come forward," said Sean Dolan, a diocesan spokesman, referring to the three latest victims. "The diocese has been feverishly trying to get victims to come forward."

Voice of the Faithful and SNAP began their "Lost Sheep" effort at St. Killian's because Christopher Ross, a convicted molester, volunteered there as a youth minister in the 1990s.

On Saturday and Sunday, the groups stood outside St. Raphael's in East Meadow because a priest and a youth minister, both convicted molesters, had spent time working in the parish.

The Rev. Michael Hands was arrested in May 2001 and pleaded guilty to multiple counts of sexual abuse of a minor. Matthew Maiello, a former youth minister at St. Raphael's, was convicted of raping and sodomizing four teens he met at the church.

The group plans to continue staking out churches for the next six weeks.


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