July 26, 2020
By Danae King
Laura Lewis, a licensed clinical counselor, will now be the person who meets with survivors of priest sexual abuse of minors at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, replacing a priest who previously had the role.
Laura Lewis believes that mental health counseling is beyond essential when working with survivors of priests’ sexual abuse of minors.
That’s part of the reason she said she was happy to accept the position of interim victims assistance coordinator when it was offered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus.
Lewis began the part-time position on July 15, replacing Monsignor Stephan Moloney in the role that includes taking all reports of sexual abuse by a clergy member in the diocese; leading the Diocesan Board of Review for the Protection of Children, a group of 10 that determines whether claims are credible; and facilitating healing and help for survivors.
Lewis, a licensed clinical counselor, has worked with the diocese in the past, including on its Safe Environment Task Force that first met in January and was charged with looking at diocesan policies and recommending changes to help the church better serve survivors.
One of their recommendations was that her position be created to help the diocese offer better outreach, support and education on the abuse crisis, according to the diocese.
Lewis will work on an interim basis until the diocese creates a full-time, permanent coordinator position.
The change comes after The Dispatch reported in March 2019 that Moloney was one of three diocesan victims’ assistance coordinators in the country who were also priests, something survivors and their advocates, such as Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), have said can be a barrier to survivors reporting abuse to diocesan officials.
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