Watch: Group Calls on Austin Diocese to Reach out More to Abuse Victims

By Amy Johnston
May 12, 2009

[with video]

A group supporting people abused by Roman Catholic priests wants the Diocese of Austin to be more aggressive in finding victims. Monday, they held a small and quiet protest. But they're hoping their voices will resonate inside the halls of the Austin Diocese.

"It's sad that we have to come out do this, and the Diocese isn't doing this," said Barbara Garcia Boehland.

Boehland wants to keep children from being victimized by Catholic priests, and she is personally invested.

"My son Eduardo was sexually assaulted by a priest in San Antonio at a boys seminary. It was at the age of 16 and then my son took his life by hanging. He was just 20 years old," she said.

She got involved with the group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). She came to the Austin Diocese Tuesday to make sure everyone in Austin knows about a priest that she says North Dakota church officials admitted was a child molester. That priest, Father Gregory Patejko, worked in the Austin Diocese between 1981 - 1993. He is now deceased.

"There have been several victims coming forward in North Dakota. So we believe the same thing has happened here in Austin," said Boehland.

But the Austin Diocese tells a different story. Bishop Gregory Aymond released a statement late Tuesday:

"We do not have any indication that anyone in the Diocese of Austin was abused by this now deceased priest. I have offered to meet with every person who has experienced sexual abuse. We have, with diligence, published that the Diocese will assist in the healing of victims. Anyone who is in need of healing should come forward."

Boehland says she wants the Diocese to come forward by posting the names of every accused priest on their website.

"And I want to prevent other mothers from having to bury their child and think about this every day," she said.

The Diocese of Austin did not say whether it would consider that as an option.


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