By joe gorman
A man saying he was abused by a deacon and former Diocese of Youngstown employee in 1976 said he came forward to help other people who may have been abused by the same person.
The diocese in 2011, however, told Jerry Arnal, 51, of Youngstown, who is making the claim, that it investigated and found the claims to be unsubstantiated. The diocese also said the employee, who also used to be at Cardinal Mooney High School, has not been employed by the diocese since last year and that he no longer is a deacon.
Judy Jones, Midwest regional director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, and Arnal had a news conference outside St. Columba Cathedral on Wednesday. Jones urged Bishop George Murry, head of the diocese, to release the man’s name so that others can report abuse and seek help. Jones and Arnal refused to identify the person they are accusing, saying that is up to the diocese.
“We believe children are still at risk in this diocese,” Jones said. “We won’t release the name because Bishop Murry knows who it is, and it his responsibility.”
When asked if the name of someone who has not been formally charged should be released, Jones said the diocese has done it before with the case of former priest Thomas Crum. Crum was banished from the priesthood in 2010 after allegations surfaced in 2009 that he abused a student, also at Cardinal Mooney, in 1976. Crum was asked to resign by the diocese in June 2009 after the accuser’s May 2009 claim was investigated and found to be credible, and police departments in several other locations were contacted. Crum ultimately was not charged criminally because the statute of limitations, the time limit for filing charges in a criminal case, had run out.
Jones also read from an anonymous letter sent to SNAP in March asking for help and accusing the same person of abusing a female student at Cardinal Mooney. Jones said she also wants those people to come forward. She said the diocese let that person retire because of health problems. That letter also has been given to the Mahoning County prosecutor’s office.
Nancy Yuhasz of the diocese said the person Arnal is accusing has not worked for the diocese since some time last year and also is no longer able to perform duties as a deacon and no longer is associated with any school or parish.
Yuhasz said when Arnal made his accusations, the diocese reported them to the Mahoning County Children Services Board, and undertook its own investigation and also provided Arnal with assistance. In a statement, Yuhasz said Arnal thanked the diocese for its “concern and attention.”
Arnal said the abuse occurred at St. Christine, and he went to another high school while the person he is accusing moved on to work at Cardinal Mooney. Arnal said he told a counselor about the abuse in 1982 and again in 1987, and in 1987 he was advised to report it to the diocese. He said he did report it but was told the case came down to “my word against his” and nothing was done.
He said he reported it again in 2008 and also made a statement to the county prosecutor’s office. He said Youngstown police would not take a statement from him when he tried to make a report because the crime was past the statute of limitations. Jones said the diocese should have turned the investigation over to police right away.
The diocese says if someone has an abuse claim, the first thing they should do is contact their local law enforcement, then call the diocese, so that it can do its own investigation.
Arnal said he has had problems over the years because of the abuse he said he experienced. He said revealing it Wednesday was tough.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve done in my life,” he said.
Arnal also said he has no plans to sue.
“I don’t want their money,” he said.