Former Ohio Woman Names Catholic Priest As Her Molester
Beth Rocker Was 10 and 11 Years-Old When She Was Allegedly Molested by Her Parish Priest

By D.K. Wright
January 7, 2008

CAMBRIDGE, Ohio — Beth Rocker grew up in the Cambridge, Ohio, area.

She alleges that Father Gary A. Zalenski sexually abused her when she was 10 and 11 years-old, from 1989 to 1991.

"After you finish catechism and take your first communion, everyone in the parish becomes an altar boy, an altar girl, a server," she said.

That was the case with Beth and her parish priest at the time.

She said the incidents happened in various places, even once inside the church.

She said she spoke up at the time, telling her family and church officials.

Soon afterward, the priest disappeared from the parish and Beth says she thought the church must have taken action.

"He disappeared for some reason," she said. "I wasn't sure if it was because of me or because another victim had come forward."

Beth told 7News, has undergone years of intensive therapy and has been living in Israel. When she heard that this priest was back leading a parish with a youth group, she spoke up.

"I was shocked, horrified and terrified," she said. "Something had to be done."

The group SNAP—Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests—says they have seen too many victims who, instead of going to the police, went to church officials.

"For some reason within the Catholic Church, survivors don't think it's a crime," says Judy Jones of SNAP. "They think they should go to the diocese. And that's probably the worst thing you can do because they will say, Uh, be quiet. Be a good Catholic."

Beth has filed a report with the Guernsey County Sheriff, detailing what allegedly happened to her.

"I did this to protect other children," she says. "I don't want it to happen to other victims. Healing is a lifelong journey. It is a process that doesn't just happen overnight. It takes a long time. I encourage other survivors to come forward too."

Father Zalenski was removed from his parish in Neffs by the bishop in November.

Bishop Daniel Conlon said there was "a credible accusation of sexual assault on a minor."

Zalenski denies the allegation.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.