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Support group aims to track down more victims of Crum

Published: Fri, July 10, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.



Fr. Crum

By John W. Goodwin Jr.

The conversation brought one woman to tears.

BOARDMAN — Allegations of sexual abuse concerning a local priest prompted a small but emotional meeting at the Boardman Library.

Members of SNAP, a Chicago-based national support group for clergy sex-abuse victims, had a meeting Thursday to discuss sexual misconduct by the clergy, specifically the case of the Rev. Thomas Crum.

The first complaint of sexual assault against Father Crum was by a person who was a student at Cardinal Mooney High School in 1975 and 1976. The church was contacted May 22 by the victim; Father Crum was removed from the ministry shortly after that.

Since then, two other people have come forward with claims of sexual misconduct by Father Crum. Bishop George V. Murry of the Diocese of Youngstown updated that number to four, noting another person came forward in late June.

Judy Block Jones, director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, southeast Ohio, said the organization has been in touch with two additional potential victims of sexual abuse from the area. She said the two people have contacted SNAP, but have not contacted the church or authorities.

Contacting victims of Father Crum, Jones said, is what the group is hoping to do.

“We want to have an open dialogue with people in the area so they understand the seriousness of this situation with Father Crum. We want to reach out to other victims of his,” she said. “We are here to reach out to victims and protect kids.”

Jones said Bishop Murry should be having similar meetings, drawing large crowds, and answering questions such as where Father Crum is being kept, how many victims exist and where the investigation stands.

She also wants to know details about a “12 Club” some allege the priest started in one of the Catholic schools where SNAP believes abuse took place.

Jones shared the story of her brother who was abused by a priest in his childhood. She said her brother came forward with the truth about the abuse after he was an adult and that is what led her to seek out the SNAP organization.

Another woman, identified only as Pam, related her story of abuse beginning years ago when she was a teenager and abused sexually by a Catholic nun. She said she did not see it as abuse at the time, but believes the church knew and did little to protect her.

The meeting was not a complete bashing of the church, however.

Gary Petruska of Campbell said the church should be applauded for immediately issuing a letter to students at Mooney High School and several churches concerning Father Crum and urging victims to come forward. He also said the church is cooperating with the police in the investigation.

Another man, who did not give a name, defended Bishop Murry saying these may be the first allegations the bishop is hearing about Father Crum given the bishop’s short time in the area.

During the conversation one woman, who did not want to be named, burst into tears before saying she has a family member who took his life after what the family believes to have been sexual abuse by Father Crum. She said the family believes the boy, who committed suicide at 19, was abused when he was 9.

Jones said victims should take their concerns to police, not the church.

“The Diocese is not an investigative team,” she said. “[The bishop] is stressing coming to the Diocese, and that is intimidating to some survivors. [The bishop] is doing the bare minimum but that’s not enough.”



1soothsayer(5 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Mr. Goodwin is to be complimented for the balanced and detailed reporting in this article. If you view and read the WKBN or WYTV coverage of this event you come away with a very limited and shallow understanding of the facts and human emotions related to this abuse and all the cases of clergy abuse. The Church's reaction and the faithfuls' response is obviously insufficient and cavalier if a child becomes so desperate and overcome with isolation, frustration, disbelief, and despair that they TAKE THEIR OWN LIFE. This is not a matter of Bishop Murry responding with letters and memos to the past students of Crum and parishes where Crum was placed. This a matter of recognizing the anti-religious and misguided mission and operation of the Catholic Church. It is NOT moral, spiritual, or consistent with the religious words or foundations of the Church to place the welfare of the Church or its ministers ahead of the welfare of and protection from sexual abuse of the children and vulnerable adults among the faithful. The Bishop has access to the secret files that document the lives of every member of the clergy. It is irresponsible and possibly illegal to hold back this information from both the faithful and those charged by statute to investigate and uphold the laws of the State of Ohio. As Judy Block Jones has stated, the Bishop can and should do more.

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2Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Homosexuality is a disease that is prevelant in society . In the general population the message is one of tolerance . In the Priesthood the very same voices that stressed tolerance now demand a witch hunt . Thomas Crum has been removed from his duties as a Priest . Homosexuals should not be in contact with our young, be it in the Priesthood or anywhere that children are involved .

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3ruby(1 comment)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm sorry, I'm a little confused. I thought this article was about sexual abuse concerning a local priest not homosexuality.
Homosexuality has nothing to do with sexual abuse.
Nice article and fantastic work Judy Jones. You are making a huge difference in this world and definitely saving many children's lives.

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4Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

"Homosexuality has nothing to do with sexual abuse."

Yes, you are confused ! The Priest was a homosexual predator .

Homosexual predators have no redeeming value in the Priesthood or amongst the general public ! Our children have a right to be protected !

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5gbullough(2 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

And heterosexual predators are okay, then?

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6digitgal(11 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Predators are predators. Unfortunately, there are at least as many men who like to mess with girls as men who prefer boys. And they are all trouble.

Bishop Murry is doing a great job. The jury is still out on his predecessors as well as the pastors who oversaw Father Toupee over the years.

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7SMPTURLISH(4 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

The first thing Bishop Murry should have done was to make, or have a very trusted individual at the chancery make, a careful search of the "secret files," or whatever one chooses to call them, of the diocese so as not to be broadsided by something like this. Mentioning his relatively short time as bishop is more of an excuse then a reason.

In addition to that, I would have recommended that he immediately publish the names of all living and death known, credibly accused or convicted sexual predators among the ranks along with the locations of the living. Not doing so gives the appearence more of an enabler, one who is more concerned in harboring sexual predators, then one truly concerned with the victim/survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Of course the victims of clergy sexual abuse who have not survived need to be mentioned as well.

FYI, I suggest going FIRST TO LAW ENFORCEMENT and only then to the diocese and do not go alone.

Known sexual predators should be removed both from ministry and from the priesthood not retired to prayer and reflection in the relative comfort to which they have become accustomed.

By all rights these sexual predators and rapists should be criminally charged and incarcerated.

These are crimes against children, crimes against humanity and the last time I checked the Holy See was a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Is there something I'm missing here?

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims' Advocate
New Castle, Delaware

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8JudyJones(157 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

If you've been victimized by clergy, please know that you are not alone. You can get better. You can reach out to others who've been hurt just like you have. Together, we can heal one another.

We are SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the nations oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 20 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word priest in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and protestant ministers. We are an independent and confidential organization, with no connections with the church or church officials. And we are here to help.

SNAP was founded by Chicago's Barbara Blaine in 1989. Since then, SNAP has helped thousands of survivors. We offer support in person, (via monthly self-help group meetings in chapters across the country), over the phone, on line, and at twice-a-year national meetings.

We also provide a safe and productive outlet for the passion many survivors feel toward preventing future abuse.

Our web site exists to provide support and knowledge to all victims of clergy abuse, to help educate the public, and to help ensure that in future generations, children will be safe.

Welcome! Reach out! Get help!
David Clohessy, SNAP National Director, cell 314-566-9790
Barb Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director, cell 314-503-0003
Judy Block Jones, SNAP Director Southeastern Ohio,
home: 636-433-2511

If you would like to learn more, listen to survivor stories and what they experience, please click Survivor Videos on this web site: http://www.steubenvilletruth.org/

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9owlafaye(2 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

"Stan" is still in the 18th century...Ignorance is rampant in America. Sexual abuse is a crime of great magnitude practiced in the Catholic Church as if it were a sacrament.

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