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Support Groups Speak Out on Church Abuse
September 2, 2007

story by: Jennifer Cahill

EVANSVILLE - A story gathering steam is the recent admission of Evansville Catholic Bishop Gerald Gettlefinger, that he withheld information of reports of sexual abuse by a deceased priest. Two groups supporting victims, and speaking out againsta abuse, handed out flyers at St. Benedict's Cathedral in Evansville Sunday morning.

The two groups were 'Silent Lambs' out of Paducah, KY and SNAP, the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, from St. Louis, MO.  They say their goal is to encourage victims to come forward and seek help.

The members of the groups are all victims themselves and they say it's through speaking out about the abuse that they've come to heal.  They passed out flyers sunday in hopes more victims will seek help, and to let them know there are confidential support groups available.  

SNAP's National Director, David Clohessy, told us Sunday, "Child sex abuse is like a cancer that just eats away at you quietly.. internally. The best way to deal with cancer or an infection is to deal with it head-on and expose it, and get it out into the light where healing is possible."

Bishop Gettlefinger came forward with the information of past sexual abuse around two weeks ago, and since then, several more victims have surfaced, making it the largest sexual abuse scandal the Evansville Diocese has seen.

Clohessy and other group members believe there are more victims out there, and they hope their actions Sunday will give victims the strength to come forward and seek help.

Clohessy also said he has problems with the way Bishop Gettlefinger handled the recent announcement about sexual abuse by Monsignor Othmar Schroeder.  For more on Clohessy's thoughts, CLICK HERE to watch our 10:00pm coverage.


Victims want church to stop hiding sex crimes

Sep 3, 2007 09:42 AM

Reporter: Marianne Lyles
New Media Producer: Rachel Beavin

Sex abuse victims call on the Evansville Archdiocese to stop hiding church sex crimes.

Sunday, victims stood outside St. Benedict Cathedral handing out leaflets urging Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger to be more forthcoming about abusive priests.

This comes just weeks after the diocese announced Monsignor Othmar Schroeder abused several boys during his nearly 30 years at a Jasper church.

David Clohessy was abused for four years by a Missouri priest. He recovered from the abuse by directing the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, otherwise known as SNAP.

Clohessy helps other victims heal by encouraging them to come forward about the abuse.

Handing out leaflets at St. Benedict Cathedral, Clohessy is focusing on the Evansville Archdiocese, and the recent announcement of abuse by the deceased Monsignor Othmar Schroeder, who spent nearly 30 years at Holy Family Church in Jasper.

Clohessy says, "Bishop Gettelfinger has told the media beginning in 2002 that other priests have been accused of abuse who's names he's not disclosing. And we think the Catholics in Evansville and the public at large deserve to know who these dangerous men are."

Father Gary Hayes from St. Alphonsus in St. Joseph, Kentucky,says he has one question, "The question for me is why did it take eleven years for all of this to come out?"

Father Gary says being open is the only way to heal. He knows first hand, he was also abused by priests.

But the abuse goes beyond the Catholic Church, as a Jehovah's Witness sexual abuse group, Silent Lambs, joins the gathering.

William Bowen from the Silent Lambs, says the problem is huge in his community also, "We have seen cases as many as 60 Jehovah's Witness children have been molested because none of the them were considered credible witnesses to the person that was actually molesting them."

Most parishioners had nothing to say, but what they did say is that they hope outsiders don't let Monsignor Schroeder's abuse taint their church.

Parishioner, Mark Browning, has been patient, he says he understands Bishop Gettelfinger has a lot on his plate, "If all of us were wearing his moccasins that's not an easy position to be in. He wants to be fair to everybody and to be fair you need a lot of information."

14 News left a message for Bishop Gettelfinger at the archdiocese for a comment, but those calls were not returned.


Priest Abuse Fliers

Reported by: LaTonya Stephens

Sunday, Sep 2, 2007 @08:37pm CST


Victims of abuse are asking other victims to step out of the shadows and the Evansville diocese to acknowledge their responsibilities.

The Silent Lambs organization and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests say recent revelations of molestation by a local priest is another example of the church's failure to protect the innocent.

They showed up Sunday at Saint Benedict's Cathedral handing out fliers encouraging members to support abuse victims and to push the catholic church to be honest about abusive priests.

David Clohessy says Bishop Ferald Gettelfinger's recent disclosure of abuse by now deceased Monsignor Othmar Schroeder prompted the action.

Clohessy says for 11 years Bishop Gettelfinger has known that Schroeder is a predator and yet kept silent.
He also says Gettelfinger admitted that there are others whose names he has not disclosed.

Those wanting to learn more about the SNAP victim's group can log onto


Number of Allegations Rises Against Southern Indiana Priest


Church officials in Evansville say more than 10 people have come forward with allegations they were sexually abused by a southern Indiana priest decades ago.

Monsignor Othmar Schroeder died in 1988. But the abuses were brought up by Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger during sermons at a Jasper church two weeks ago. Since then, the Catholic Diocese of Evansville says the number of allegations has increased.

Schroeder was the founding pastor of the Holy Family Church in Jasper. He remained at the parish for 28 years until 1975, when he was transferred to Sacred Heart Church in nearby Schnellville.

David Clohessy is director of the Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests. He says he expects the number of allegations of abuse to continue to grow.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



September 1, 2007


More than 10 say late S. Indiana priest abused them

Bishop has asked that the man's picture be removed from the church he founded

By Ryan Lenz

Associated Press


EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- Roman Catholic church officials said Friday that more than 10 people have come forward with allegations they were sexually abused by a Southern Indiana priest.

 The Diocese of Evansville said the number of allegations against Monsignor Othmar Schroeder, who died in 1988, has continued to grow since Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger announced the abuse during sermons at a Jasper church two weekends ago.

Diocese spokesman Paul Leingang said the allegations were the most against one priest in the diocese's 64-year history, but he cited church confidentiality in not providing more specific numbers.

"The continual thing is the invitation for people who have been abused to come forward," Leingang said.

Schroeder, a once-admired priest, was the founding pastor of the Holy Family Church in Jasper, about 50 miles northeast of Evansville. He remained at the parish for 28 years.

The allegations in recent weeks have led the bishop to ask for Schroeder's picture to be removed from Holy Family and for the Knights of Columbus branch in Jasper to change the name of a memorial in his honor.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he expected the number of allegations of abuse at Schroeder's hands to grow.

"My hunch is that if 10 have come forward, there may well be dozens more still trapped in shame and confusion," Clohessy said. "Typically only the tip of the iceberg comes forward."

Clohessy, a victim of clergy sexual abuse, planned to protest Sunday outside Evansville's cathedral with fliers demanding church officials disclose details of "a pedophile priest's sex crimes" and urge others abused by clergy to come forward.

Gettelfinger has told diocese congregations in the past two weeks that he learned of the allegations as early as 1996, but that his commitment at the time was to offer counseling and protect victims' confidentiality.

The scope of the abuse, however, now appears "greater than we knew," the bishop said.

BishopAccount, a Massachusetts group that has amassed thousands of documents on abusive priests and their bishops, lists eight priests from the Evansville Diocese accused of misconduct, including two who have been convicted of possessing child pornography.

The number is the second highest in the state's five dioceses, falling behind the Archdiocese of Indianapolis with 16 priests, according to the organization's tally.


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