Abuse victims oppose pick for new House chaplain

May 12, 2011

The nation's leading advocacy group for victims of clergy sexual
abuse is opposing an Oregon Jesuit's bid to serve as House chaplain,
saying he failed to follow up on alleged abuse 25 years ago.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said Patrick Conroy
should have contacted the police and followed up with his archbishop
when nothing happened to the accused priest.

Conroy was nominated
by House Speaker John Boehner with the support of minority leader Nancy
Pelosi to be the second consecutive Catholic, and first Jesuit, to serve
as House chaplain.

In 2002, Conroy told the Seattle Times
that he informed the archbishop of Seattle in 1986 that another priest,
Dennis Champagne, had molested a young boy. Champagne remained a priest
until 2002. The archdiocese said the alleged victim did not want to
proceed with the case in 1986, and Champagne was sent to therapy and
remained a priest until the victim came forward again in 2002.

board member Peter Isely said Conroy could have done more. "We send a
hurtful message to crime victims and their loved ones . . . if we
knowingly promote someone who didn't call the police when he suspected
possible child abuse," Isely said.

Patrick Lee, a spokesman for the Ore­gon Jesuits, told Roll Call
that he was "deeply disappointed" in the criticisms. "Father Conroy is
an excellent priest worthy of the nomination made by Speaker Boehner,"
he said. "He has never been the subject of an allegation of child
abuse."  —RNS