Woman Upset with Church Apology

By Jaye Watson
WXIA-TV [Atlanta]
April 25, 2002

An Atlanta woman who says she was sexually abused by her priest 40 years ago is not satisfied with the apology she received from the Atlanta Archdiocese.

Ellie Harold met with Archdiocese officials three weeks ago. She said she wanted to meet with the Archbishop, but talked to an attorney instead.

"I was looking for some kind of reconciliation and a public acknowledgement of what had happened," said Harold, who is now a reverend.

Harold said Priest Clarence Biggers would forcibly kiss her when she was 11. She told her story to church officials and last week, received a letter from Archbishop John Donoghue.

"As I read it, I was really upset. It felt like another layer of abuse. It felt like a lawyer had written this letter," she told 11Alive's Jaye Watson.

In the letter, Donoghue offers to pray for Harold and addresses the issue of her abuse.

"He basically says, 'The account of the abuse that appears to have been inflicted upon you,'" Harold said.

Five days later, Harold said she received another letter from the Diocese attorneys stating that she would not receive any money from the church.

Harold says she never asked for any.

"I remain frustrated with the hierarchy of the church. It's a very personal thing that happened to me and to be met with a bureaucratic response. I expect more from a church that purports to be the legacy of Jesus Christ."

Harold's alleged abuser, Father Clarence Biggers was a priest with the Marist order, a religious order of priests.

She says officials from Marist have offered to compensate her for the money she's spent in therapy and have been openly apologetic and willing to talk.

As for the letter to Harold from Archbishop Donoghue, 11Alive News called attorneys for the Archdiocese to ask if he wrote the letter himself. The attorneys were not available.


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