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Sex abuse ‘survivor’ weighs in on publishing of problem priest list

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — Evaluating a move by Catholic Church leaders in northeast Indiana to get the problem of priest sex abuse more out in the open.    

The names of more than a dozen priests and deacons deemed to be "credibly accused" were made public Tuesday.

Eight of the 18 church leaders from the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese, tied to wrongdoing, are now deceased.

Two others are behind bars.

Former area priest and one-time Bishop Dwenger faculty member Richard Stieglitz, based on five credible allegations of sex abuse with a minor, was dismissed from the clerical state in 2007.

We left a phone message, seeking comment from Stieglitz, but at the time of this report, we had not heard from him.

Kennedy Ly told us he sees benefit in holding the priests accountable, but worries somewhat about a backlash against them.

"Or if they’re not alive, what would happen to their families. Some kind of witch hunting?" Ly said.

The publishing of the names of the priest sex abusers, in large part, is designed to help the victims.

Their suffering can go on for years.

"When it happened, I just froze, I was paralyzed, I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t move," said Larry Antonsen, who lives south of Chicago.

He spoke to us via Skype.

He’s part of a priest sex abuse survivor’s network.

He says in high school, it was just a priest and him on an out of town trip.

At one point, they were drinking alone in a hotel room.

"Then he took my hand and put it on him, I just panicked, I got up, got dressed and ran out," he said.

Antonsen says following the incident, his life took a turn for the worse– his grades slipped and he started drinking heavily.

Years later, he reported the incident to church officials in Chicago, who offered to pay for two years of counseling, nothing more.

He’s not convinced church leaders are serious about fixing this mess.

"They’re just beginning, maybe to change a little bit today, but I think they have a long way to go, and I think it goes all the way from the top all the way to the bottom."

Bishop Rhoades has said, putting out the names of predator priests here can for victims, finally begin the healing process. 

A source tells ABC 21 that a new allegation of priest sex abuse has been reported to Fort Wayne police in the past 24 hours, involving an incident that took place in 1970.

The victim, a young child at the time, is now in his 50’s.

Even if substantiated, that case may be too old to support the filing of criminal charges.


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