PEORIA -- About a dozen members of groups seeking redress from the Catholic Church for previous sexual abuse picketed OSF Saint Francis Medical Center on Jan. 10, to demand their grievances be heard.
Central to the picketing was Leona Deemie, 66, of Pekin, who tells of being repeatedly sexually assaulted by the now deceased Rev. George Cody, a Catholic chaplain, when she was a 12-year-old hospital patient.
Demmie said OSF officials including the nuns will not even talk with her about what happened. She was offered a $17,000 monetary settlement in return for a gag order, she said, meaning she could never speak of the abuse. She refused and it was withdrawn.
"It happened at a time when you couldn't talk about it," Demmie said of the sexual abuse.
Now she wants a meeting with Catholic officials. "Talk to me," she said.
The group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, SNAPnetwork.org, released a letter to OSF officials stating the allegations involving Demmie, and asking for a meeting. "A simple meeting. How hard is that?" it states.
She needs a settlement of up to $100,000, the letter states.
The letter is signed by David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP in St. Louis, Mo.
A flier distributed by the picketers states: "...Cody sexually abused her and other children almost nightly. When 12-year-old Leona told two OSF nurses about the abuse...she was told to " keep quiet or the nurse could lose her job." A nun nurse told her "when it happens she should think of Jesus' suffering."
It continues: "The greater abuse, however, is that Leona has asked for years for the hospital's help. They have refused. Both the OSF Third Order and the hospital refuse to listen to her story, refuse to meet with her, refuse to apologize and refuse to help her in any way."
Letters have been sent to other Catholic officials, even the Pope, Demmie's supporters said. No one has responded.
-- Elaine Hopkins
UPDATE 1/11/2011: Dr. John Carroll has a good commentary on OSF. See it here.