|Springfield Clergy Abuse Victim Speaks out
By Barbara Dorris
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
November 30, 2011
Holding a sign and a childhood photo, a Willard man will
--discuss his just-filed child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit against three predator priests and a Catholic bishop,
--urge citizens and Catholics – especially current and former church employees – to share what they know about clergy sex crimes and cover ups with police and prosecutors, and
--beg anyone who may have been hurt by clerics to "step forward, get help, and start healing"
Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 2:00 p.m.
Outside the Springfield Catholic diocesan headquarters, 601 South Jefferson Ave., (corner of E. Harrison) in Springfield, MO.
Two clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). One is the victim who has filed suit, Joe Eldred. The other is a St. Louis woman who is SNAP's Missouri outreach director.
In a civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit filed earlier this month in Kansas City, Eldred charges that he was sexually abused as a child by three Catholic priests: Fr. Thomas M. Reardon, Msgr. Thomas J. O'Brien and Fr. Mark E. Honhart. http://www.kansascity.com/2011/11/01/3242888/missouri-man-files-priest-abuse.html
One of the clerics, O'Brien, was stationed at St. Agnes Catholic Church (533 South Jefferson at Cherry, 417 831 3565) in Springfield from 1951 to 1954.
Eldred worries that there may be others in southwest Missouri who may have been hurt by O'Brien and may be suffering in "silence, shame and self-blame." And he hopes others who may have seen or suspected or concealed any of O'Brien's crimes in southern Missouri might speak up now so that he could be prosecuted and kept away from children.
At the time of the abuse, Eldred was between nine and 12 years old. The abuse largely took place at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Independence MO and at Lake Viking, northeast of Kansas City, at a cabin where several priests took dozens of boys over years and sexually violated many of them.
From roughly 1980 – 1984, the suit says, Honhart and O'Brien sexually abused Eldred. Honhart performed oral sex on him in the rectory basement and garage and in Honhart's car. O'Brien gave Eldred marijuana, alcohol and pornography and made him "engage in oral and anal sex in the rectory, the sacristy, the confessional and in O'Brien's vehicle." The suit also says that O'Brien forced Eldred "to perform oral sex and other sexual acts with other young boys" while O'Brien watched.
Between 1981 and 1984, O'Brien took Eldred to Lake Viking with Father Thomas Reardon and there engaged in inappropriate behavior including giving the boy "drugs, alcohol, marijuana, and abusing him "in the car and at the lake house." O'Brien told Eldred that "if he ever told of any of the acts perpetrated upon him, that he (Eldred) would be kicked out of the church, abandoned by his family and would go straight to hell."
As a child, after the abuse, Eldred repeatedly attempted suicide.
Honhart was ordained in 1980, Reardon was ordained in 1967 and O'Brien was ordained in 1950. All are believed to be priests, even now. Reardon and O'Brien are believed to be living in KC. Honhart is in Pennsylvania.
Photos of Honhart and Reardon are available at BishopAccountability.org
In several other suits, Reardon and O'Brien are accused of molesting the same children. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2007/11_12/2007_11_24_Thomas_LawsuitsAlleging.htm
Eldred is now 40 years old, married, and works for a non-profit agency that helps at-risk kids. He is being represented by KC attorney Rebecca Randles (816 931 9901, firstname.lastname@example.org)
David Clohessy 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, Barbara Dorris 314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com, Joe Eldred 417 207 4282, Holly Hesemann 636 751 5711
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