Pa - Group Blasts Altoona Bishop over Sex Crimes
By David Clohessy
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
October 5, 2012
- Groups blast Altoona bishop over child sex crimes
- They want him to post the names of all predator priests
- At least 30 US Catholic prelates have taken "this simple safety step"
- SNAP: "At least 25 local clergy are proven, admitted or credibly accused abusers"
- Self help organization wants "outreach & warnings" about a just-accused local priest
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will urge Altoona Catholic bishop to
-- seek out others who may have seen or suspected child sex crimes by a recently arrested priest,
-- personally visit each parish where the accused predator worked, begging other victims to come forward, get help, and call police, and
-- post the names of all current and former local child molesting clerics on the diocese website.
They will also prod people who were molested by clergy – of any denomination to "find the courage to speak up and start healing."
Monday, Oct. 8 at 11:00 a.m.
Outside the Altoona Catholic diocesan headquarters (chancery office) at 927 South Logan Blvd. (corner of Hawthorne) in Hollidaysburg, PA (814-695-5579)
Two victims of childhood clergy sexual abuse and belong to a support group called SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), including a Missouri man who is the group's long time director
A support group for victims of clergy sexual abuse is calling on the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic bishop to post the names of all credibly accused priests within his diocese on his website, in his diocesan newspaper, and in parish bulletins.
SNAP is pushing Bishop Matt Bartchak to take what they say is "one of the simplest, quickest and cheapest ways to keep kids safe."
"It is a minimal step that helps parents, parishioners and the public know who and where these predators are, so that kids can be kept away from them," said David Clohessy, SNAP Director.
In 2002, Tucson and Baltimore became the first US dioceses to disclose predators' names. More recently, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has created a database on its website which includes priests with credible child sex abuse accusation against them. (A full list of all the dioceses that have disclosed names is available here: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm)
SNAP is also urging Bishop Bartchak to disclose all information he has regarding a recently sued predator priest and to take steps to warn his flock about him.
The priest, Fr. George Koharchik, was accused of abusing children in the late 1970's, and was temporarily removed from ministry in August when the accusations were made. Last month, the Cambria County district attorney's office opened an investigation, and since that time at least two more victims have come forward. (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2012/09_10/2012_09_16_Mellott_StateMay.htm)
"Since more victims have already come forward, it is likely that there are still others who are afraid to speak up," said Clohessy. "Bishop Bartchak has a duty to find these people, to help them find their voice and help them heal."
Fr. Koharchik was ordained in 1974 and has worked at two Johnstown parishes (St. Clement's from 1974-99 and 1980-84 and St. Casimir's from 1987-95). He twice worked at St. Joseph's parish in Portage (1984-86 and 1995-1999). And he worked in four other central PA towns: Bellefontane (St. John's the Evangelist 1986-87), Shade Gap (St. Mary's, 1999-2006), Huntington (a prison chaplain, 1999-2006) and, most recently, in Mount Union (St. Catherine of Siena, 2006-2012). His picture and detailed work history is available here: http://www.bishopaccountability.org/assign/Koharchik_George_D.htm
SNAP wants anyone in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown who may have information about Fr. Koharchik or any other predator to immediately come forward and make a report to police.
"Silence is a predator's best weapon," said Clohessy.