PEORIA -- The dark underside of the Catholic Church saw light briefly on Jan. 5 when a half-dozen people, some victims of sexual abuse by priests, demanded that the Catholic Diocese of Peoria pay for victim counseling.
The group, SNAP or Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, held an outdoor news conference in the street at the new Spalding Pastoral Center on NE Madison. Spokesman Jeff Jones of Rockford said he has been warned in a letter not to set foot on Diocese property.
He said 17 male and female victims of priests of the Peoria Diocese have come forward. Some have filed lawsuits, and another lawsuit is about to be filed, he said.
Some of the lawsuits have been pending for six years. In a separate, mediated agreement, the Diocese agreed to pay counseling expenses for some of the victims, he said.
Many of the other victims need counseling, he said, but the Diocese has refused to pay for them. Together they have paid about $500,000 in fees and medication from their own pockets.
One woman, who needs daily counseling, is living in poverty so she can pay her therapist, he said. Three others need counseling but are afraid to seek it for fear they will be billed for it.
These people were subjected to very serious abuse, Jones said. Another 25-year-old man recently committed suicide apparently as a result of the abuse.
Jones said the group resorted to a news conference to pressure Diocese officials into paying for the counseling, as they agreed to do in the previous agreement.
The public needs to know about this situation, he said.
In addition, the statute of limitations governing these types of lawsuits needs to be liberalized, so that children who were abused can seek redress when they are adults and able to testify, a member of the group said.
The news conference attracted television coverage and a reporter from the Journal Star.
-- Elaine Hopkins
Here's a comment from John Carroll's blog.