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Clergy Sex Abuse Victims Speak Out Against Hartford’s Archbishop

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HARTFORD-- An organization made up of people who were abused by priests spoke out in the capital city today.

They gathered because of unrest over recent actions of Hartford's Catholic Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Hartford is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn a verdict for a man who claimed he was abused by Ivan Ferguson, a Roman Catholic priest, at a school in Derby in the early 1980s.

In 2012, a jury found Hartford Archdiocese officials negligent and reckless in handling abuse reports against Ferguson and awarded the victim a $1 million judgment.

archbishopAmong other claims in a recently filed motion, the archdiocese contends the law that extended the statute of limitations for such lawsuits is unconstitutional.

It's a move that has set off a fire storm, especially with victims of clergy sex abuse.

On Thursday, members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests spoke out in Hartford.

The members are protesting Archbishop Leonard Blair's decision to challenge the constitutionality of the state's statute of limitation for sexual abuse reporting passed in 2002, which allows victims up to the age of 48 to take legal action against their predators.

"I think it's disgraceful the archbishop is trying to overturn the statute--he's denying the ability to give victims the justice that they deserve and need," said Jim Hackett, a SNAP member who was part of a $14 million settlement in 2005 against 14 priests in the Hartford Archdiocese accused of sexual abuse.

A state Supreme Court hearing of this motion has been scheduled for Sept. 22.  The case is referred to as Archdiocese of Hartford vs Jacob Doe.

"If you're an arch bishop, you're a priest, you're supposed to be living the gospel, and this is not gospel living," said Jayne O'Donnell with Voice of the Faithful.

Voice of The Faithful is a Catholic reform organization formed after the Boston church sex abuse scandal in 2002 to support survivors of abuse and help initiate reform within the church.

"What they want to do is continue to protect the assets of the church, not the victims, not the survivors," said O'Donnell.

Archbishop Blair came to Hartford in 2013 after serving for 10 years as archbishop in Toledo, Ohio. During that time he lobbied strongly against a bill in the Ohio state legislature extending the time limits for filing lawsuits.

Toledo resident Claudia Verecellotti traveled to Hartford for today's protest.

"My fear is all Connecticut crime victims of violent sex crimes will end up like Ohio victims, with no access to the truth," said Verecellotti.

In July Pope Francis told victims of Catholic Church sexual abuse that the church must make reparations for what it did to victims.

Many believe believe Archbishop Blair's decision contradicts the pope's message.

"The CEO of a company would have to call someone out on that and hold someone accountable," said Beth McCabe with SNAP.

FOX CT contacted the Archdiocese of Hartford for this story. We were told by the spokesperson the organization has a policy of not commenting on matters of pending litigation.

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15 comments

  • Johnnie Appleseed

    Also of concern is the possibility these deranged men will try to evade their own problems. One should think twice or
    three times before volunteering with this organization. This is promotion.

  • Ben

    Blair epitomizes clericalism sat it’s worse. Featuring VOTF is a bad move, they are only interested in a place at the table, not the victims or challenging the bishops.

  • John Thompson

    Statute of limitation laws are man made. There is nothing in any constitution forcing or preventing these laws to be put into effect. No one has ever claimed that it is unconstitutional that there is no statute of limitation law on murder. The Church’s stance is all about money and power. Nobody tells the Church what to do and they hide abusing priests to preserve money and power. And in all their blather about sexual abuse of children they hide the fact that over ninety percent of children who are sexually abused most are abused by their own parents or other immediate family members. It is not uncommon for a child who is being abused by a parent or parents for that child to abuse a sibling or a child outside the family. So the Church’s stance prevents most cases of molestation of children, children who are not even members of the Church, for ever getting justice. Children are not property. Children do not have the ability to protect and keep themselves safe. I wish non survivors of any type of child abuse especially political and religious leaders would be forced to sit in on one of our adult survivors of child abuse support groups so they can learn (if it is even possible for them) the horrible things adults do to their own and others’ children and hide it and the life long effects of these abuses. There should be no Statute of Limitation laws because every abused child knows there is no limit to our suffering. The Church pretends to speak for us when they proclaim we want vengeance. We don’t want vengeance. We want justice and we want the judicial system to fulfill its purpose.

  • Tom

    THere is nothing MORE DISGUSTING than an adult fooling and seducing a trusting child into sexual activity. IT is beyond disgusting, like the Inquisition. Keep fighting them– their punishment (purification) is long overdue for their oppression of human normalcy.
    Like any big corporation – corporation means “body”– the Church puts corporate survival over the needs and rights of shareholders– in this case the faithful. This problem is really about the power of corporation and fiduciaries over shareholders. The corporation exists FOR the shareholder, not the the other way around.
    Moreover the vain position that the show of Christian piety through the ritual love of Christ through the Mass and communion has no effect whatsoever in curbing or sublimating the human sexual instinct which –through priestly celibacy– becomes re-routed , twisted and SICK.
    The arrogance of men who think they can just change human nature with a ritual based on silk , gold and costumes is as scurrilous as the idea that people who have profligate sexual activity and confuse this with sexual freedom — it usually indicates the opposite–namely compulsiveness, which is a mental disorder.
    When priestly celibacy was established Pope Gregory said never did a rule assist the Devil in his work more than that one.
    AS a child I thought priests were celibate to be like Christ, but it turns out it was legalistic to protect the Church’s holdings against the inheritance laws. . . .It has nothing to do with saintliness but with corporate survival. So the profession of priests attracts timid, guilt ridden, sick men who are afraid of their own genitals and the attraction to women, parenthood and maturity in general. And the sickest ones often rise to the top.
    it is hypocrisy plain and simple– something the Gospel despises more than honest sinning, — much more.

  • David O'Regan

    Hartford’s Archbishop is attempting to overturn a great law that protects children. Archbishop Blair’s disregardful behavior contradicts Pope Francis, who recently offered his strongest condemnation of a crisis that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church, comparing priests who abuse minors to “a sacrilegious cult,” while begging forgiveness from victims and pledging to crack down on bishops who fail to protect children.

  • Donna

    How many of us have died because the emotional pain was too much to live with anymore? We had trouble maintaining employment, suffer from numerous crippling emotional problems, one that kept me from this event. With no medical care we are doomed. I happen to be fortunate enough to have medication and therapy, over my lifetime imagine what has been spent to keep me living a barely tolerable existence.Relationships, natural bonding and trust are often elusive for us. What comes naturally for most is impossible for us. How much is one life worth? We were given a lifetime sentence and most of the abusers lived their lives unaccountable for their action while serving in their trusted rolls under a trusted and Devine organization. Please hear our pleas.

  • Liz

    The bottom line is to protect the children, not any individual who takes advantage of an unknowing child, or vunerable human being.
    Sadly its a fact more often then not espically with my generation as a victim/survior of sexual abuse there was little education regarding these issues and no arena to talk about it, plus because of the damage caused by the truma it can take DECADES before a victim can confront the truma because of the shame and guilt. The point being, what Archbishop Blair is trying to do is protect the perps, not the children or victims who have suffered. Unless someone is doing something wrong or covering up for another there shouldn’t be any concern how long the the SOL is

  • Liz

    The bottom line is to protect the children, not any individual who takes advantage of an unkndowing child, or vunerable human being.
    Sadly its a fact more often then not espically with my generation as a victim/survior of sexual abuse there was little education regarding these issues and no arena to talk about it, plus because of the damage caused by the truma it can take DECADES before a victim can confront the truma because of the shame and guilt. The point being, what Archbishop Blair is trying to do is protect the perps, not the children or victims who have suffered. Unless someone is doing something wrong or covering up for another there shouldn’t be any concern how long the the SOL is

  • Jeanne Marron

    It never ceases to amaze me how the Catholic Institution will spend tons of money on lawyers and lobbying efforts to protect their assets and reputation in stark contradiction to what they espouse to be. What about all those souls tortured and forever affected by the predators and re-traumatized by the Church’s response? Is there ever going to be a real plan from the Vatican and its diocese in the US to assist them? How have they invested in healing the horrendous damage that has occurred? How many cases have they compensated victims without a legal battle and confidentiality agreements? How many of their missions across the country focus on assisting in healing such souls? Why has the church forsaken them? All those grand properties they own and no longer use or worse use for aggrandized desires and habits of the hierarchy. Why not donate some for healing? Take the money used for legal fees and provide seed funding for survivor programs. I for one would love to be a part of opening a holistic interpersonal trauma center.

  • Susan

    This doesn’t surprise me at all it’s just another example of how indifferent they are to the destruction of innocent lives it’s always about them. Never the victims. There suppose to be Gods teachers his represenitives and yet they make a mockery of Gods word Hopefully there not successful and this doesn’t become law. I’ve always had a strong faith until I became a survivor . I still believe in God but sometimes it feels like he protects the church rather then it’s victims . I hope to someday be proven wrong until this happened to me he’s never let me down

  • godisntstupid

    The Catholic Church are the gangsters of organized child rape, brutally disobeying Jesus in Matthew 18:6-14, and trying to teach the world then it is okay to commit even the most evil crimes. This is exactly what Satan wants to accomplish with his Catholic Church.

  • Bernard Law

    God continues to prove that the Catholic church isn’t God’s church. The Catholic church is the world’s largest organized child rape crime syndicate, all in BRUTAL defiance of Jesus in Matt 18:6.

    The Catholic church now fights the victims instead of going out to find each one, in BRUTAL defiance of Jesus in Matt 18:7-14.

    Of course, they do it to protect their filthy riches, since they are the wealthiest private institution in the world, with local Cardinals like Dolan living in a $30 million mansion in New York, in BRUTAL defiance of Jesus in Matt 19:21.

    And satan whispers, “Don’t worry Catholics, it’s fine, everybody’s going to heaven, ignore the child rape, ignore the filthy riches, ignore what Jesus said.

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