Church Officials Urge Potential Abuse Victims to Come Forward

By Diana DeCola
The Marietta Times [Ohio]
August 17, 2006

Area Catholic officials are urging parishioners to come forward with information about any other potential abuses by a former Lowell pastor and a church volunteer at St. Sylvester Church in Woodsfield.

On Friday, the Diocese of Steubenville released information pertaining to the abuse of a minor child at St. Sylvester Church by Monsignor Robert Brown, former pastor of St. Sylvester Church in Woodsfield, and Paul Ditto, former volunteer at St. Sylvester Church. Brown had also served at Our Lady of Mercy in Lowell.

Officials at Our Lady of Mercy in Lowell declined to comment on the matter, but Father David Gaydosik, of St. Sylvester Church, said the parish is opening its arms to anyone else who may have experienced similar abuse or who may just be suffering from the shock of the news.

"We're dealing with it," Gaydosik said. "We've invited anyone else who's had this experience to come forward."

The diocese's release said they had credible allegations that Brown and Ditto abused a minor child between 1976 and 1978. Both men are now deceased.

Monsignor Gerald Calovini, spokesman for the diocese. said he didn't know if there was any connection between the activities of the two men, but said this is the first time an allegation has been made against them.

Brown had been a member of the diocese since its inception in 1944, Calovini said.

Brown also served at St. Anthony's in Bridgeport, St. Stanislaus in Maynard and at Our Lady of Mercy in Lowell. Brown is believed to have served at St. Sylvester Church from 1951 to 1991.

Monsignor Kurt Kemo, vicar general of the Diocese of Steubenville, is also encouraging anyone who has suffered abuse to come forward.

Calovini said the diocese already has notified local authorities, a standard procedure and a requirement of Ohio Revised Code.

The Woodsfield Police Department, as of Wednesday, said it did not receive a report from the diocese.

"I'm aware of this allegation but I do not have a report on file," said Woodsfield Police Chief Chuck Hamilton.

The Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney's office gave the same response, saying they received only a letter from the diocese with no detailed information about the case.

Wednesday, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests held a news conference in front of St. Sylvester Church urging Steubenville Bishop, R. Daniel Conlon, to visit the church and beg other potential victims to come forward.

They are also requesting the diocese release more information regarding the cases.

"He (Bishop Conlon) has not put on the Web site the names of past priests who have abused other people," said Marietta resident Helen Schoeppner, a member of SNAP. "We're hoping that will come about because some of the priests who've (been) abusers are still living."

In February 2004, a report issued by the Diocese of Steubenville found that there have been 17 sexual abuse claims in the diocese since 1950. A total of 13 priests have been accused and 11 of those accusations were substantiated.


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