Clock Is Ticking for Clergy Survivors of Sex Abuse to Come Forward

By Mackenzie Scott
Northlands News Center
May 11, 2016

[with video]

In 2013 Doe 19 came forward as a victim of sexual assault by Father James Vincent Fitzgerald when he served the church in Crookston.

About a week ago, his case was settled and he's getting the help he needs and Wednesday, documents from the Oblate priest's file were released and other alleged victims are urging victims to come forward before it's too late.

Doe 19 and the Diocese of Crookston and Oblates of Mary Immaculate reached a settlement after the victim came forward after being sexually assaulted by Father James Vincent Fitzgerald... and the anonymous individual wasn't the only one.

"What Doe 19 and we found throughout this lawsuit was that Vincent Fitzgerald abused a whole lot of kids over decades. He is one of the worst predators that I've seen my over decade of working on these cases," said Michael Finnegan Attorney for Doe 19.

Fitzgerald who died in 2009, had at least 17 alleged victims who have now come forward.

Megan Peterson shared her story of coming forward as Jane Doe 121, when she filed a lawsuit against Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul.

"To see that children were still at risk from Father Joseph Jeyapaul that compelled me to use my face and use my name to help survivors feel less alone and to regain even more power and strength for myself personally," said Peterson.

With the Minnesota Child Victims Act expiring in just two weeks on May 25, victims of sexual assault are urging survivors to come forward.

"So it is important that we survivors connect, tell each other our stories and realize that we are all in the same boat. That we didn't try to do this. This happened to us," said Verne Wagner, the Director of Northern Minnesota's Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Connecting and helping survivors.... who refuse to remain silent.

The documents released from the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate make it clear that the church knew about allegations against Father Fitzgerald with reports going back to the 60's.








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