Uncovering the Truth

ABC News 4
March 23, 2007

Charleston, SC - A former local Catholic priest is defrocked. Father James Nyhan has been dismissed by the Vatican for past sexual abuse of children within the Church.

It's been nearly 30 years since 40-year-old Allen Sires says he was sexually abused by Father James Nyhan at Charleston's Church of the Nativity. And while his emotional wounds have never healed, Sires says learning of Nyhan's dismissal by the Vatican has made telling his story worthwhile.

"I am really happy about it. It brought some vindication to all the guys that came forward," says Sires.

But while Sires is happy for closure in that sense, Nyhan's dismissal hasn't solved everything.

"It's just very confusing trying to piece my personal life back together and trying to address the source of the abuse. The source of the abuse is not James Nyhan. The source of the abuse is the Vatican policy that was put into place in 1962," says Sires.

A policy called "Crimes of Solicitation"...a document both Sires and attorneys say details for bishops how to handle abuse of children, by priests, within the Church. Sires says the document serves as nothing but a cover-up for the Church. But Peter Shahid, the attorney for the S.C. Diocese, says it's not that at all...just a policy on how to handle a "rare incident."

"It's not a cover-up, no... Anytime a person goes to see a priest to receive sacrament of confession there is a seal between the priest and the penitent...The priest is duty-bound to maintain the conversation between him and the penitent confidential and it's called the Seal of the Confession," says Shahid.

Sires say the Vatican document just allows the abuse to continue. The policy has been circulating for several years and can be found online.

Sires says he encourages bishops to keep bring offenders - within the Church - forward.


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