Sex-Abuse Survivors' Group Says New Bishop Supports Secrecy

By Max R. Mitchell
Watertown Daily Times
February 24, 2010

OGDENSBURG (NY) -- A national activist group against sexual abuse is upset about the election of the Rev. Terry R. LaValley as the 14th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg.

David G. Clohessy, national director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued a statement saying the Chicago-based group is troubled by the promotion because of Father LaValley's "history of secrecy surrounding child sex crimes."

Father LaValley has been chairman of the Diocesan Review Board, which reviews policy and complaints related to sex abuse, since 2002. During that time, about eight priests have been removed for alleged sexual abuse.

"We think that he's been reckless and secretive and shows no sign of remorse or reform," Mr. Clohessy said. "People, Catholics, are very forgiving, but it is troublesome when a church official is chosen who has essentially protected predators instead of children."

Citing articles from the Watertown Daily Times, the Syracuse Post-Standard and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Mr. Clohessy said he takes issue with Father LaValley for not disclosing information about why the Rev. Paul F. Worczak had been removed from ministry in 2002, after an alleged victim told diocese officials the priest had been sexually abusive.

He also took issue with Father LaValley for how the diocese listed the Rev. John J. Fallon as "on sick leave" from 1989 to 2000. In 1986, Father Fallon had been convicted of receiving pornographic pictures in the mail.

"If they won't come clean with Catholics and citizens about a proven sex offender, it is hard to believe they have been or will be honest about credibly accused sex offenders," Mr. Clohessy said.

Diocesan spokeswoman Sister Jennifer L. Votraw said Father LaValley helped to protect children at his post at the review board.

"We have been proactive, trying to be helping the victims, providing counseling. He's tried to do all the right things," she said.

Mr. Clohessy also took fault with Father LaValley accepting his appointment to the review board, saying that having a priest lead the group is insensitive.

"That's the classic fox over the chicken coop position. His predecessor never should have appointed him, or he should have said 'that's wrong,'" Mr. Clohessy said.

The Rev. James W. "Jay" Seymour, director of clergy personnel, said the review board is considering appointing a layperson as chairman of the review board. He said a recent audit conducted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops suggested the change.


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