Sex Abuse Victims Want Bishop's Support

January 18, 2010

[with video]

James Blume served as priest in FW from 1980-1989.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Upon the conviction of former Fort Wayne priest, James Blume, on two counts of sexual assault, a victim advocate group is looking to Bishop Rhoades for support and leadership in fighting child sex abuse.

A former priest with Fort Wayne ties pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault on Friday. That's according to a local paper in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

It was there, that James R. Blume said he assaulted two teen boys in the 1970's and 80's, before coming to Fort Wayne.

Blume served in the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese from 1980 to 1989. His time in the area included service at St. John the Baptist in New Haven, and in Fort Wayne, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Andrew/St. Hyacinth.

A victim's advocate group believes there could be other victims out there.

Officials with the "Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests" or S.N.A.P. see this as a big opportunity for the newly-installed bishop, Kevin Rhoades.

S.N.A.P. is urging Bishop Rhoades to take strong action now that Blume has been convicted of sexual abuse.

"Because [Bishop Rhoades] is new in this post, and because frankly he had nothing to do with Father Blume's crimes, he's in a perfect position to say 'We're turning over a new leaf here. We're going to take child sex abuse very seriously and we're going to do all we can to find and help people who were hurt by predator priests,'" said SNAP Director David Clohessy.

S.N.A.P. hopes Rhoades will visit the parishes where Blume worked and personally ask for any victims to come forward. Vince LaBarbera, a spokesperson for the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese did not return a request for Blume's history in the Fort Wayne area.

LaBarbera said the Bishop was likely unavailable for comment Monday. A statement from the diocese said "The diocese pledges to continue reaching out and making itself available to those who claim to have been the victim of sexual abuse perpetrated by a priest or deacon. Through periodic bulletin announcements diocesan wide, its practice of announcements or publications in parishes specific to a certain priest, and victim assistance information posted on its website , the diocese reaffirms that outreach."

With help from our partners in news at the New-Sentinel, we've learned Blume faced two similar allegations in Allen County: one in 1991, the other in 1992. One was dismissed. Information on the other was not available because of court closures for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Catholic Church officials removed Blume from the priesthood in 2007. He currently lives in Florida.

A judge will sentence him for the charges out of Wisconsin on March 26th.


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