Alleged Abuse Victim Speaks out against Former Sioux City Priest
By Tommie Clark
June 3, 2016
It's been more than 50 years, but one former Siouxlander is still trying to right a wrong he says was done to him when he was just 12-years-old.
We sat down with Tim Lennon, who claims he was raped by a Catholic priest in Sioux City.
KTIV's Tommie Clark has been investigating the allegation for the past few months.
She has his story.
Tim Lennon met with the Diocese of Sioux City to have his allegations addressed.
Tim Lennon was born and raised in Sioux City, the third oldest in an Irish-Catholic family of 12.
Growing up, he attended mass at Blessed Sacrament Church.
Lennon says, in 1960, Father Peter Murphy came to the parish.
That's when he says his world was turned upside down.
"I was 12-years-old and I was raped and abused by Father Peter Murphy," said alleged abuse victim, Tim Lennon.
Lennon says Murphy would take him to baseball games and movies, followed by what he calls "life-threatening, cruel molestation".
It was never reported to authorities.
"I'm pretty angry about what happened to me and what happened to other children by this thing of not reporting to the police, by hiding these guys," said Lennon.
Lennon says he blocked the molestation out for years and didn't open up completely about it for three decades. That's long after Murphy passed away in 1980.
In 1995, Lennon finally wrote a letter to the Diocese of Sioux City explaining the alleged abuse by Murphy to him.
Lennon spoke by phone with R. Walker Nickless, the bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City. But, Lennon says he wasn't ready to talk in person... until now.
He wants to make sure there's full transparency with all churches about child abusers.
"There are a number of different kinds of instances where the church has failed to protect children. They can give whatever the reasons they want or whatever. They can say we were ignorant or whatever...that's not good enough," said Lennon.
Lennon recently met with Bishop Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City.
The subject of that meeting, according to a Diocese spokesperson, was Lennon's "allegations of abuse" against Fr. Murphy.
We spoke with Lennon before, and after, the meeting.
He wanted to tell his story.
But, Lennon says the two parties did disagree on one key point. Lennon claims the diocese turns over all "credible" allegations of abuse. He says that shouldn't be for the church to decide, but rather law enforcement.
"It's interesting. As far as transparency I asked that they publicize the names of abusers that they have known that have harmed children to let the community know and thirty diocese in the United States out of 170 or so have done so and to me that's a good step. Whether he'll take that step, I don't know," said Lennon.
In a statement, a Diocese spokesperson said, "The Diocese of Sioux City will be publishing a request for information concerning Fr. Murphy in the June 2nd edition of the Catholic Globe newspaper."
Lennon says the Diocese will also post a notice in the parishes where Murphy served.
He says this is a big step in the right direction.
"There's a famous biblical quote by Jesus about I'd much rather have a millstone around the neck of someone who would abuse a child. That's my belief at all. Children are sacred if there's anything sacred in this world and they need protected," said Lennon.
Lennon says having that meeting complete is a relief, but his work isn't done.
He, and his daughters, who serve as his advocates, will continue to tell his story.
Lennon is a local leader of an organization called SNAP, or "Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests", in California where he now lives with his children.
Through the group, survivors work together to support each other.
Lennon is in continuous talks with the Diocese of Sioux City, and also with the Woodbury County Attorney, to make sure other victims' stories are heard too.
And, to make sure that such alleged abuse...stops.