Clergy Sexual Abuse
By Sarah DeMarco
ABC News 4
November 2, 2006
Charleston, SC - Victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are being urged to come forward and confront the Diocese of Charleston. Now a national organization of survivors is asking the Bishop of Charleston to do more about his accused clergy.
Ann Brentwood spent nearly 50 years thinking she did something wrong. Around age 6, she was abused for the first time by a Priest. The emotions still haunt her. "Anger. I just kept seeing this happen over and over again and a strong desire to do something to stop it," says Brentwood.
She's now starting Charleston's first SNAP chapter, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, hoping victims will be able to clear their minds of a secret they've kept inside for years. "I think they're ashamed. They do believe it was their fault. They see by past experience in the Church that when they do come forward, often times they're again, not believed, sometimes discredited," says Brentwood. She says the Catholic Church has admitted to having more than 6,000 abusive priests. Here in Charleston, the Diocese of Charleston has turned the names of a total of 26 clergy members over to the Solicitor's Office. All with allegations of sexual abuse against them.
Two non-clergy church personnel also have credible claims against them, making a total of 28 within the Diocese of Charleston since 1950.
"Whenever a credible allegation is made against a Priest or employee of the Diocese, that person is immediately suspended pending outcome of the investigation," says Steve Gajdosik of the Diocese of Charleston.
SNAP sent the Diocese this letter, asking for the names of all the offending clergy be made public, by posting them in parishes, schools and church bulletins. The support network believes more victims will speak out if the church is more open about who's been accused. Gadjdosik says the request will be reviewed by the Bishop. With some allegations dating back to the fifties, the Diocese of Charleston has record of at least fifty victims.
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