Sexually Abused Want Bishop's Help

By Ed Doney
August 13 2010,0,1809031.story

[with video]

The leader of a sex abuse victims group is calling on the Oklahoma City Archbishop to help find other potential victims of priests here in the state. David Clohessy, the National Director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, says the Archbishop has a moral duty to offer help to victims. Thursday morning, Clohessy stood outside the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City asking Archbishop Eusebius Beltran to expose sexual predators within the Catholic church.

Clohessy was sexually abused by a priest as well.

"Many people, unfortunately, who are sexually violated as kids by clergy don't survive and end up coping with the pain by taking their own lives," he says.

Last year, six men who said they were abused as boys by former Oklahoma City Priest Thomas Behnke, settled a $4.65 million lawsuit.

Their attorneys say the abuse happened decades ago, while Behnke worked at a Dallas church and also at the Little Flower Catholic Church in Oklahoma City.

Because of that, Clohessy wants the Archbishop to ask people a question.

"Look, a dangerous priest spent 8 years in our Archdiocese," Clohessy says. "Help me find out if he hurt anybody here. But he hasn't and so today, we're urging him to do that."

At the Archdiocese office, NewsChannel 4 was told Archbishop Beltran was "unavailable."

Outside, a woman going to mass said the Catholic church does not hide sexual abuses.

"I don't think that's a valid allegation," she said. "I think it's dealt with in the ways that the church deals with things."

Clohessy wants the Archbishop to use his Web site, bulletins and other means to offer widespread help to victims.

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City does have an Abuse of Minors hotline at (405) 720-9878.


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