Alleged Priest-Abuse Victims Call for Investigation of Providence Diocese
The Providence Journal
November 20, 2013
|Helen McGonigle, a lawyer from Connecticut, shown in 2009, poses with photos of herself as a 6-year-old and of the Rev. Brendan Smyth, an Irish priest who was at Our Lady of Mercy Church in East Greenwich from 1965 to 1968. McGonigle says he raped her as a child. Smyth died in an Irish prison in 1997. |
By W. Zachary Malinowski
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Victims of alleged sexual abuse gathered for a news conference on Wednesday to condemn the Diocese of Providence for failing to properly investigate more than 800 allegations of sexual abuse over the past 20 years.
Among those presenting harrowing tales of abuse by local parish priests were Ann Hagan-Webb, a representative from Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP; and Jeffrey Thomas, of Massachusetts, and Helen McGonigle, a lawyer from Connecticut.
Thomas and McGonigle said they were raped as children by the Rev. Brendan Smyth, an Irish priest who was at Our Lady of Mercy Church in East Greenwich from 1965 to 1968. Smyth returned to Ireland and pleaded guilty to 141 counts of sexual abuse. He died in prison in 1997.
The victims said they want the office of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha to launch an in-depth investigation into the 831 complaints of pedophilia and sexual abuse.
"This has to change if we are going to protect the children of Rhode Island,'' Hagan-Webb said.
Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for Kilmartin, said in an email: "The Office will accept and review any information the organization has regarding the allegations.''