Priest abuse victim: They stole most sacred thing I had

Catholic priest abuse survivor Mike McDonnell tells CNN's Erica Hill that he loved going to church as an 11-year-old boy, and his church stole that away from him.

Posted: Aug 20, 2018 6:51 AM
Updated: Aug 20, 2018 7:21 AM

A Pennsylvania man reflected Thursday on what he says two sexually abusive Catholic priests "stole" from him -- and how his state's lawmakers could stand up for survivors.

"They stole the most sacred thing that I had, and that was my Catholic Church," Mike McDonnell told CNN's Erica Hill two days after the release of a damning grand jury report that shows more than 300 "predator priests" in six Pennsylvania dioceses have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims since the 1940s.

"An 11-year-old kid loved going to church with his parents. I could sing 'Pange Lingua' in Latin and in English," said McDonnell, who publicly has accused and sued two priests in the Diocese of Philadelphia, which was not covered by the latest grand jury report.

"They stole that from me," he said.

One priest accused by McDonnell was defrocked, while the other was removed from public ministry, diocesan records show.

McDonnell has been open about his struggles within his marriages and with substance abuse, which he attributes to his childhood trauma.

But he also said his alleged abusers didn't take everything from him.

"Today, I have faith. I have faith in God. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for God," McDonnell told Hill. "My spirituality is there. Religion, to me, is for those who are scared to death of hell. Spirituality is for people like me, who have been there."

Statute of limitations could expand

The Vatican has declined to comment on the grand jury report, even as McDonnell and others are calling for accountability.

"I timed out (of the statute of limitations) at age 15. Ask an 11-year-old what a statute of limitations is," McDonnell said. "And ask that same 11-year-old when he or she would like to tell their story about a sexual experience that they had with a Catholic priest."

The grand jury in its report recommended eliminating the statute of limitations for prosecuting clergy accused of sex crimes, noting that "no piece of legislation can predict the point at which a victim of child sex abuse will find the strength to come forward."

Pennsylvania law currently allows child victims of sexual crimes to pursue criminal charges against their abusers until age 50, and they can file civil lawsuits until age 30.

A bill before the state House, SB 261, would eliminate the time limit for prosecutions and move the lawsuit ceiling to age 50. It has rested in the House since 2017, when the Senate passed it unanimously.

"We're charging Pennsylvania lawmakers to do the right thing," McDonnell said. "There's two choices here, there's two votes: You're either voting 'yes' for predators or you're voting 'yes' for victims and survivors. This is not complex."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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