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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: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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