Survivor advocates praise whistle-blowers in alleged priest sex abuse case

July 05, 2018 - 7:03 am

SNAP Midwest, a support group for people who have been sexually abused by clergy, is commending the people who have come forward to lodge complaints against Bishop Joseph Hart.

Hart, who once served in Missouri, is accused of sexually abusing boys while serving as Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming, between 1976 and 2001. The Cheyenne diocese says accusations the former bishop sexually abused two boys on trips to and from Wyoming are credible, according to a story in the Casper Star-Tribune. Both of the alleged victims were included in a 2008 settlement by the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Hart could now face criminal charges.

It is not unusual for sexual abuse claims to go unreported for decades.

"The average age for a victim to come out is between 40 and 50 years old," said Judy Jones, SNAP spokeswoman. "I know of some guys who are in their 80s who have who had never even told their own wives."

Speaking out is a way to start the healing process, Jones said.

"You don't have to keep quiet about it anymore," Jones said. "It also exposes the truth, and therefore protects kids today."

Jones encourages anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse to contact law enforcement.

Hart, who is retired and 86 years old, continues to deny the allegations.

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