Abuse Support Group Is Critical of Bishop

By Linda Linonis
July 7, 2009

Bishop George Murry responds to national support group for clergy sex-abuse victims.

YOUNGSTOWN — SNAP, a Chicago-based national support group for clergy sex-abuse victims, claims Bishop George V. Murry of the Diocese of Youngstown “is ignoring” its request for a public meeting on sexual misconduct by the clergy, and specifically the case of the Rev. Thomas Crum.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests plans a public meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Boardman branch of Youngs-town-Mahoning County Library, 7680 Glenwood Ave.

“I have made myself available to speak to individuals in the diocese about this matter. We are not accountable to an outside group,” Bishop Murry said. “They have every right to hold a meeting.”

He also noted attorneys for the diocese took the proper steps by alerting law enforcement to the allegations against Father Crum, and the police continue to investigate.

In an e-mail, the group said it wanted to have the meeting because the bishop hasn’t responded to a request. Judy Jones, SNAP Southeastern Ohio director, called the meeting educational and informational. She said survivors of clergy abuse also would speak.

SNAP is referring to recent allegations of sexual misconduct against Father Crum. The first complaint of sexual assault was by a person who was a student at Cardinal Mooney High School in 1975 and 1976. The bishop was contacted May 22 by the victim; Father Crum was removed from the ministry shortly after that.

Since then, two other people have come forward with claims of sexual misconduct by Father Crum. Bishop Murry updated that number to four, noting another person came forward in late June. The bishop said the latest allegation, along with the previous ones, are still being investigated.

In a letter sent June 24 to Bishop Murry, SNAP said urged the leader of the diocese to:

UHave an open public meeting.

UVisit each parish where Father Crum was assigned and urge victims and witnesses to contact police.

USend a second, more emphatic and explicit letter to those who attended a school with which Father Crum was affiliated.

UAlert Youngstown Police Department as to where Father Crum is being housed.

Bishop Murry responded by addressing SNAP’s points:

UYoungstown police and the Mahoning County prosecutor “know where Father Crum is.” The bishop said Father Crum is still undergoing treatment at a private psychiatric hospital and is under constant supervision.

UThe letter sent to former Cardinal Mooney students “was explicit,” Bishop Murry said. “People clearly understood what was said in the letter by the e-mails, letters and phone calls we have received.” A letter explaining what had happened was read at Our Lady of Peace in Canton, where Father Crum was pastor. Another letter was sent to every church where he served and read the weekend following his removal as pastor at Our Lady of Peace.

UBishop Murry said in the near future he will be celebrating Mass and meeting with individuals who have concerns at Our Lady of Peace Church, where Father Crum was assigned when he was removed as pastor. Bishop Murry said a response team of the Vicar of Clergy, superintendent of schools and professional counselor were available June 12 at Our Lady of Peace School. “We have done outreach to the parish,” he said. As for visiting other parishes where Father Crum served, Bishop Murry said the current pastors know their people and parish and he and the pastors encourage anyone to come forward if they were victimized.

UAs for a public meeting: “The message is clearly out there,” Bishop Murry said, noting the response he has received at the diocesan offices by phone calls, e-mail and letters. Bishop Murry said the media has been “very helpful” by repeating his words encouraging anyone who was abused by Father Crum to report it to the diocese or police. Call the victim assistance coordinator at (330) 744-8451.

XSNAP’s Web site is Judy Jones is SNAP Southeastern Ohio director; her contact number is (636) 433-2511.


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