Victim Advocate Calls for Information on Former Priest

By Jennifer Edwards
St. Augustine Record
January 22, 2010

An advocate for clergy abuse victims visited St. Augustine on Thursday to encourage anyone victimized by a former Catholic priest with a residence in St. Johns County to come forward.

David Clohessy, national director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (SNAP) said James R. Blume, 64, pleaded guilty Jan. 15 to two counts of sexually assaulting minors under his care in 1978 and 1979.

He entered his plea Jan. 15 in a Waukesha County, Wis., courtroom and is scheduled to be sentenced March 26, according to Milwaukee news media.

Court reports and the St. Johns County Appraisal District records show Blume owns a residence in Flagler Estates.

It was unclear where Blume is while awaiting sentencing. He was not listed as a current inmate in the Waukesha County Jail or Huber Facility, another jail.

The state deputy attorney who prosecuted the case was not available late Thursday afternoon.

Kathleen Bagg-Morgan, director of communications for the Diocese of St. Augustine, said Blume was ordained after the assaults, in 1984, in the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind.

Clohessy said he traveled to St. Augustine to encourage other victims to tell their stories, which could influence his sentencing or lead to further prosecution.

"We are asking everyone in this area, if you have been molested ... please come forward," Clohessy said, fighting back tears. Clohessy was a victim himself, he said, but the priest who assaulted him and three of his siblings was never brought to justice.

"Please come forward," he said. "Call the police. Get help. Protect others."

Clohessy also sent a letter to the Diocese of St. Augustine requesting it encourage its parishioners to disclose any abuse they suffered or knew about.

Bagg-Morgan said the St. Augustine diocese had just found out about the sentencing and had no information about Blume's whereabouts or what his involvement with the church here might be.

She said the church constantly encourages parishioners to report any sexual misconduct.

"Our whole job is to make sure our children and vulnerable adults are protected," she said. "Regardless of whether ... Mr. Blume was in the area or not, we are constantly encouraging people to come forward if they've been abused."

"They don't even have to talk to us if they don't want to," she said. "They can go straight to the State of Florida and report it through (the Department of Children and Families)."

Clohessy said that, though the cornerstone of the Catholic faith is forgiveness, residents shouldn't confuse that "private, personal act" with the moral and civil obligation of protecting children.

"When Pope John Paul was shot by an assassin, he forgave him," he said. "But he didn't say, 'Set him free.'"

Need to report an incident?

Go to the Diocese of St. Augustine Web site, ; or the SNAP Web site,

Diocesan church locations near Flagler Estates:

* St. Augustine
* Crescent City
* Flagler Beach
Source: Diocese of
St. Augustine


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.