3 Priest Abuse Victims Relate Stories to Group
By Daniel Tepfer
April 6, 2003
With many wiping tears from their eyes, more than 150 people sat transfixed Saturday as three survivors of abuse by Catholic priests recounted their stories.
There was a long stretch of silence after the three had finished.
"There are at least 21 priests in the diocese who have been accused of abuse," continued Joseph O'Callaghan, chairman of the local branch of Voice of the Faithful. "If the church is going to recover we need to know what was the complicity of Bishop [Walter] Curtis and Bishop [Edward] Egan and we have to know what other information they are keeping."
The three talks punctuated the conference at Fairfield University on the current sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church.
The conference was sponsored by VOTF.
Voice of the Faithful is a national organization of Roman Catholics established in Boston in response to numerous incidents of child sexual abuse by priests.
The group's stated goals are to support abuse victims, support priests of integrity and provide a voice in the governance of the church. However, it is not recognized by the Catholic Church.
Peggy Fry, of Monroe, her eyes welling with tears, related to the audience in the Gonzaga Auditorium her abuse by Monsignor Gregory Smith in the early 1960s at St. Theresa's Church in Trumbull when she was a teenager.
"He made a marriage license with our names on it and made me wear a gold band on my finger when we were alone together," she recounted.
She then recounted her more than 30-year battle to get justice.
Thrown out of church, thrown out of church events when she tried to complain about what Smith did to her, it wasn't until last April that Bishop William Lori told her Smith had finally admitted what he had done to her and was being suspended.
"I owe a great deal of gratitude to Voice of the Faithful and all of you here because you care and I can not thank you enough," she said.
Eleanor Craig Green, a therapist from Westport, who treats victims of sexual abuse, revealed that she and her siblings had been abused as children living in the Boston area.
She related that the priest had molested her in her home when she was a teenager and later repeatedly raped her 13-year-old brother in a Cape Cod motel.
"There is not celibacy in the Catholic Church and among the clergy," she added.
David Cerulli, of New York City, related what started him on the road to becoming head of Survivors Network of those abused by priests.
At the age of 14 he was repeatedly raped by a priest.
But Cerulli said he is a survivor.
"Not all victims are so lucky. We lost three SNAP members in the past few months to suicide," he continued. "We don't want to lose any more victims to this insidious crime against innocents."
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