Survivors of Priest Abuse Demand All Documents Be Released

By Heather Myers
San Diego 6
October 25, 2010


"I hid it from my parents, I hid it from the world, and I want the world to know that it's tough," said Jim Whitman, who calls himself a survivor after being sexually abused by his priest as a child.

Whitman, a San Diego resident, recently settled a lawsuit with the San Diego Catholic Diocese after claiming that the abuse was at the hands of Father Gustavo Benson. Whitman says prior to telling his story, he spent 20 years on the streets hooked on meth and alcohol. At one point he tried to commit suicide.

"I just came out with my story about 4 years ago and I ask the world today would you let this happen to your child and not stand up and fight," said Whitman.

In 2007, the San Diego Diocese settled a lawsuit for nearly $200 million with 144 other victims. As part of that suit, a judge on Friday ordered the release of 10,000 documents detailing the abuse and cover-up.

"We certainly beg Catholics and citizens in this community to read those documents and learn about these predator priests and about the corrupt church officials who ignored and concealed those horrific crimes," said SNAP National Director David Clohessy. Clohessy says the San Diego Diocese continues to fight the release of 2,000 more documents related to the abuse cases.

"Our imaginations can only wonder what's in those files being that they're being fought over just like these last 10 thousand pages, one can only guess," said Paul Livingston, SNAP's San Diego Director.

SNAP says Gustavo Benson is now working at another perish in Mexico. Officials are asking Bishop Robert Brom from the San Diego Diocese to inform those in Mexico about Benson's history.

Brom issued a statement on Sunday: "I am very, very sorry for the suffering we have caused them, and I pray that they will walk with God for a renewed life."


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