Head of Survivors Group Disagrees with Policy on Abuse Reports

By Stella Shaffer
Radio Iowa
January 6, 2006

The Iowa head of a priest-abuse-survivors group says he disagrees with the new policy that law-enforcement won't automatically be notified when someone comes forward to report abuse they've suffered at the hands of clergy. The idea is to offer a degree of confidentiality that might encourage more to report abuse, but Steve Theisen of "SNAP" says police should get all the reports.

Theisen says he understands what the victim is feeling, but says perpetrators have, at a conservative estimate, a hundred victims for each offender. He says getting them reported starts a victim on their "journey to healing." Theisen says it's also important to protect other kids who might become victims of the molester, since in his opinion they're at risk to offend again all their life. He notes when a priest confesses to higher-ups in the church, they often are not reported to law-enforcement authorities or charged with a crime, which means they won't appear on any sex-offender registry.

It's important for parents and any other responsible citizen to know "where these perps live," he says, and he hopes every diocese in Iowa will publicize where accused offenders live so people with kids can be warned. He says if people including the bishops, priests, and nuns who knew in the past had reported the abuse to authorities when it occurred, the offenders would have been criminally charged and today would be on a sex-offenders list. He says their acts are criminal and "these are people who are cleaned up nice and wearing a collar of a habit but they're still pedophiles." Theisen himself says he was molested by a nun when he attended a parochial school, and says no women of the church have yet been named in the effort to clean up the legacy of abuse.


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