ST. LOUIS (AP) – The man who has been the face of a national organization advocating for victims of abuse by clergy, especially those in the Catholic Church, has resigned from the organization.
The Kansas City Star reports that David Clohessy of suburban St. Louis voluntarily resigned Dec. 31 from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.
The organization announced Clohessy’s resignation this week, days after a former employee filed a lawsuit claiming SNAP was exploiting sexual abuse victims and receiving kickbacks from attorneys for directing clients their way.
Clohessy called the case “preposterous” and said his resignation was unrelated to the lawsuit.
“I told the board in October that I would be resigning,” Clohessy said. “We had no idea the lawsuit was coming. It caught all of us completely off guard.”
Clohessy, 60, said it was just time to step aside. He plans on remaining on the SNAP board of directors.
“It’s been an absolutely wonderful almost 30 years,” he said. “I could not have had a more fulfilling and rewarding job or role.”
“We are eternally grateful for David’s dedication to SNAP and its mission over the past almost thirty years,” Mary Ellen Kruger, chairwoman of SNAP, said in the email on Tuesday that announced his resignation. “His passion, his voice and his kindness have touched us all.”
The lawsuit was filed Jan. 17 in Chicago by Gretchen Rachel Hammond, who claimed she was fired after questioning what she said was evidence that the organization was accepting kickbacks for referring sex abuse victims to attorneys.
SNAP was founded in 1988 and today calls itself the nation’s largest, oldest and most active self-help group for clergy sex abuse victims, with more than 20,000 members, and support groups that meet in 60 cities in the U.S. and other countries. The group gained prominence in 2002 after the Boston Globe’s stories on the priest sexual abuse scandal rocked the Catholic Church.
Clohessy is himself a victim of priest sexual abuse that happened when he was as a teenager. He joined SNAP in the early 1990s, first as a volunteer.
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