|New Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit Filed against Notorious Serial Predator Priest
He Abused at Least 50 Kids in Two Countries and Worked in North Dakota
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
June 24, 2008
A new child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit involving a notorious predator priest who once worked in Langdon North Dakota has been filed in Rhode Island.
The now deceased cleric molested at least 50 victims including at least eight kids in the Providence Diocese. It's unclear whether he assaulted any North Dakota children.
In the 1960s, Fr. Brendan Smyth, a native of Ireland, repeatedly molested young Jeff Thomas, a second grader at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in East Greenwich, RI. Thomas, who now lives in Massachusetts, repressed the memories of the crimes until just last year.
The lawsuit was filed and discussed Monday, June 16, at a sidewalk news conference outside the Providence County Superior Court in Providence RI.
Church records show that from 1979 to 1982, Symth was assigned to St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Langdon. He may have also worked at churches in Park River and Ellendale. While in North Dakota, he was known as Fr. John Smythe.
The Providence Diocese admits having received eight complaints about Smyth, according to spokesperson. The Boston Globe reports that police believe he molested hundreds of boys and girls both in Ireland and in the U.S. Evidence suggests he also molested kids in Italy and Wales.
In 1987, outrage over Smyth's case led to the toppling of the Irish government, which delayed turning him over to civil authorities and gave deceitful explanations for its actions.
In 1995, Smyth was sentenced to 4 years in jail in Ireland on 17 counts of assaulting 5 girls and 4 boys between 1964-1988. In 1997, he was sentenced to 12 years for abusing 20 boys and girls. He died in prison in August, 1997. Smyth belonged to a religious order called the Norbertines.
Smyth was ordained in 1951 but his attraction to children first surfaced in 1945. According to the new lawsuit, in 1968, a Providence priest (Fr. Bruno Mulvilhill) reported Smyth's crimes to the Providence bishop. Smyth was hospitalized because of his abusive actions but neither the Providence Diocese nor the Norbertines alerted parishioners or the police.
Leaders of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are urging anyone who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Smyth – or other clerics - to come forward and contact independent professionals, whether police, therapists or support groups
"It's the same old pattern: church officials keep secret the horrific crimes of a child molesting cleric, quietly move him and refuse to call police or warn the public or the parishioners," said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director. "This on-going inexcusable secrecy is one of the main reasons thousands of priests, bishops, nuns, and seminarians have molested tens of thousands of innocent children and vulnerable adults."
"Adults molested as kids can get better," Clohessy stresses.
"Victims often begin to heal when they break their silence and get help," said Clohessy. "Suffering alone in shame, silence and self-blame is a recipe for disaster. Slowly and almost imperceptibly, deep wounds get worse over time, especially if one tries to carry that burden all alone."
Copies of the new lawsuit are available from the St. Paul-based attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents Thomas. He has handled hundreds of cases by men and women who have been victimized by clergy.
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