Church abuse victims support releasing the names of accused priests

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some time before January 31st, the Diocese of Austin will reveal what priests have credible sexual assault allegations against them, and people who have experienced abuse say it’s about time those names become public. 

In Austin, KXAN found at least five lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church since 2003. 

One of those victims talked to us after the Diocese announced it’s working to release the list.

“You don’t know when you’re a child, adolescent, especially at the age of 10, 12 years of age,” the man said. “You don’t discuss it primarily because Jesus and the priest are the same person in the eyes of a child.”

He said he was abused by a priest multiple times back in the early 1970’s. He didn’t speak out about it until many years later when he heard someone else talking about a similar situation.

“You don’t even really put it all together and understand it because it’s sort of, it’s repressed and not thought about,” he explained. “It’s later on in life when you hear somebody share a similar story, you go wait a minute, wait a minute, I understand that. I remember that. Suddenly, it triggers your memory.”

He believes more people are now speaking out because of the #MeToo movement. 

“About 18 or 20 years ago, a lot of people didn’t believe what was going on,” he said. “So it was quite difficult for people.”

SNAP, the Survivors Network, said, releasing the names is just the first step. 

“The next step would be to have law enforcement actively investigate independent of church officials or the church investigators,” said Carol Midboe, Support Group Leader at SNAP.

Midboe told us she was abused as a young girl by a Lutheran priest. 

She, like the plaintiff she spoke with, kept it a secret for many years. “I was afraid. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to talk about it,” she said. 

“For someone to report something traumatic, they have to relive that event and talk about it,” Midboe explained. “They don’t have the language. They don’t have the vocabulary. They don’t have the understanding, so it’s so difficult for a child to come forward.”

While the names becoming public is an important step, many people said, it won’t erase the scar.

“I would rather have never experienced what I experienced,” the plaintiff said.

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