Priest Sexual Abuse
November 2, 2006
Charleston...it's known as the Holy City. Yet, Ann Brentwood says it holds many sins. Sins Catholic priests commit against young children. Brentwood said, "We have 10-15 victims here now and we believe there's enough of a core group to begin a support group." Brentwood cordinates SNAP or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
SNAP aims to help help victims and stop priest molestation. Brentwood said, "There are many perpetrators listed from this diocese and pleasantly surprised to see some were in fact convicted." A bishop accountability website lists accused priests across the nation. The Charleston, South Carolina Diocese names 11 publicly accused priests. Five convicted, two charged and four accused. Yet, the website only includes priests whose victims came forward. Brentwood believes there are many priests not included on the site.
Brentwood said, "We're talking about lots of oral sex, sodomy, rape. We need to start calling it that." She said priests start by getting children alone, then gain the child's trust. Brentwood knows. She says her priest sexually assaulted her from the age of six to ten.
As a victim, she said, "The priests often make the child believe it's their fault, even make them go to confession after the abuse and take responsibility as if it were their fault." Count on 2's Jenny Fisher asked, "Did you feel it was your fault?" Brentwood said, "Absolutely. I did. All my life. I felt as if I did something wrong. I was ashamed and embarrassed."
In fact, Brentwood did not admit her priest abused her until more than 47 years later, at the age of 57. She even served as a nun for seven years, but says she decided to leave the church until it was cleaned up.
News 2 talked with a spokesman for the Charleston Diocese regarding clergy abuse. Jenny asked Diocese Spokesman Steve Gajokasik, "Does the church adequately and actively deal with molestation?" Gajodasik said, "I think yes. Resounding yes. I'd offer there's no organization in the country that deals as aggressively as abusers as the church does."
We're told the church does not move accused priests to new parishes. Instead, church officials say accused clergy are turned over to the solicitors office if a victim cites abuse. "It really is a scar on the soul," Brentwood said.
A scar Brentwood and church officials don't want future children to bear.
Ann Brentwood is now heading to Savannah and Florida to support those abused by priests. South Carolina does not have a statute of limitations so victims can come forward at any time. Brentwood says victims can prevent priests from molesting other children.
Brentwood says you can report a priest or talk to other victims by logging on to:
You can also log on to www.bishopaccountability.org There, you can find a map of the United States that lists accused priests by state or you can look up a name. Brentwood cautions you that only priests whose victims have come forward are listed on the site. She says there are many other priests who are sexually abusing children, but have not yet been accused by their victims.
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