Last papal visit traumatic for some abuse victims

The Morning Call

Bill White

Robert Corby of Bethlehem tells a story about the time ex-football star Franco Harris visited Northampton Community College to lead a town hall meeting about how Penn State handled the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Corby, now 80, who says he was a victim of child sexual abuse by a priest, decided to attend, and at some point, very nervously, he stood up to speak about what happened to him. “I’m not here to question Joe Paterno’s motives,” he says he began. “I’m here to speak for all the victims of sexual abuse.”

He was rewarded with applause — and a surprise when the event ended. “An old guy came down the aisle, tears running down his face,” Corby recalled. “He said, ‘Thank you for speaking up for the victims.'”

The first time I met Corby, we were at Juliann Bortz’s kitchen table seven years ago, talking about Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States and the toll it was taking on people who were victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Including them.

Benedict’s first U.S. visit rekindled anger and anxiety over the betrayal by pedophile priests and the church leaders who allowed their crimes to continue. Bortz, then local coordinator for the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests — known as SNAP — was bombarded with phone calls from emotional survivors.

Bortz, then 58, was one of several victims who years ago sued the Allentown Diocese and church officials for systematically covering up years of abuse, including her alleged molestation by a teacher at Allentown Central Catholic High School when she was 14. The case was blocked by the state’s statute of limitations.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.