Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.


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Why Do We Only Put Up Traffic Lights After a Tragedy

Impotent Georgia Act Protects Sexual Predators, Baptist & Catholic Churches and the Insurance companies that underwrite their policies.

Usually when my wife and I travel to Atlanta it’s for visiting friends and family. Atlanta is where we grew up, were high-school sweethearts and eventually where we wed. (Even if it did take me over 25 years to muster the courage to ask her to marry me!)

But this week my wife and I will be in Atlanta with an additional purpose. Actually it will be a two-fold mission.

As with almost every Together We Heal event/conference/etc., we will be teaching parents, guardians, and adults of various leadership and authority positions over children, on how to talk with kids about childhood sexual abuse and better identify the grooming methods of sexual predators.

In addition to this, we’re going to have the opportunity to lobby local representatives and their constituents about making a change that would have permanent, positive benefits for all of the children of our home state. We want to help them see how imperative it is that they pass a law eliminating the statute of limitations on all sex crimes against children.

I know, sounds like a no-brainer, right? Tragically, you’d be wrong. When myself and my wife were sexually abused as children, not one single state had such a law on the books. And it’s only been in last few years that states started passing said laws. Sadly, the pressure from “higher powers” had a greater hold on state assemblies than did the courage to do the right thing.

Based on Together We Heal’s non-profit designation, Federal law limits the amount of time we are able to spend lobbying for laws to protect children and assist victims in attaining any measure of justice. Therefore, we quite literally must make the MOST of every second of time we put forth on this type of effort.

So this week, we will be making one such effort at a DeKalb Women’s Meeting with 2 legislators in attendance. It’s our hope, that since we will be speaking to people who live where our abuse occurred, it will resonate with them on a more personal level.

That being said, here is the reason why Georgia needs to eliminate statute of limitation laws regarding sex crimes against children. And by the way, my personal example is just one in millions that have happened. I’m telling you my story so you can know that this happens all too often.

When I FINALLY gathered enough strength to come forward, name the man who sexually abused me as a child; I did what I was told to do, I went to the police because everyone said that’s what you do and certainly they would help me.

I went to DeKalb County Police Headquarters, the original one on Memorial Drive, and spoke with a detective in the Major Felony division (now called Special Victims Unit). After over 2 hours of excruciatingly painful memories being drawn out, vile detail by vile detail, it finally came to an end.

And that’s when she asked me the question she should’ve started off by asking, ”when did this crime take place?”

I told her from 1981-1984. That’s when she said the words that ripped my heart and stomach COMPLETELY out of my body and threw them in the sewer.

Her reply, “Sorry, but we can’t help you. You waited too long to report this crime.”

WHAT!? I WAITED TOO LONG?! How could I have done anything WRONG here?!?!

She said, “it’s not that you did anything wrong, you just didn’t know. There’s a law called statute of limitations. And in Georgia, since you didn’t come forward by the age of 18, the time limit is up and he can no longer be criminally prosecuted for the offense. No matter what he did to you. No matter how many times or for how many years. You’re just too late.”

Tragically the police, even when they genuinely want to help, have no way of doing so because of the laws OUR legislators keep on the books.

Ask yourself this simple question and let logic dictate the answer.

WHY?

Why would OUR representatives allow such laws to protect the perpetrator and further victimize the abused???

Recently a piece of legislation was passed in Georgia called the Hidden Predator Act (HPA). It was spoken of as some amazing Act, enabling any and all previous victims to come forward and get the justice they were for so long denied.

Turns out it was smoke and mirrors to make one Georgia representative appear good, but the bill is toothless and practically worthless. Although literally a couple of survivors have been able to utilize this bill, in a state of over 10 million, the VAST MAJORITY of Georgia victims will receive no such justice. Meanwhile, their perpetrators, and the ones protecting them, will remain happy all the live long day.

Why? Because the Southern Baptist Convention, Georgia Baptist Convention, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Roman Catholic Church and the Georgia Lobby for Insurance made it so. They “persuaded” YOUR representatives to remove all language that would give victims the ability to go after the churches, institutions, schools or companies that had any role in enabling, hiding or protecting the predators. By doing this it eliminated the possibility for almost any survivor to get representation. And with no attorney, no justice. Just all of the predators free and clear, to continue abusing, molesting, raping children and murdering their innocence and souls.

Most victims don’t have the strength to come forward, if they ever do, until their 30’s or 40’s, and by then it’s “too late” with the existing laws.

Sexual predators, Baptist & Catholic leaders, the Chamber and Insurance companies know this statistic, so their bean counters and leaders “convinced” legislators to orchestrate the law to read as it does. With the current language, it protects THEIR INTEREST.

And what, might you ask is their interest.

M-O-N-E-Y, NOT Y-O-U.

If these leaders actually cared about their constituents, parishioners, etc., this would not be the case. So to these “so-called” groups of faith and elected officials I say this…

“For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”

If we work together to do what’s right, protect potential future victims and enable justice for past ones, then we must pass a LAW, not a temporary bill like the one that expires in a little over a year, that does what should’ve been done already.

That’s right, the current HPA expires July 1st 2017, and at that time Georgia goes back to being one of the WORST states in the union for protecting child victims of sexual abuse.

So pass a law that ELIMINATES the statute of limitations on ALL sex crimes against children. And include language that allows for another 2-year window, only this time enable the revival against organizations & institutions and cap the claims at victims aged 53 (18 + 35). Georgia’s current bill allows victims to pursue litigation against the perpetrator only, not the people or organizations that covered it up or assisted them in any way. This is the only way to truly begin to stop this epidemic of abuse, to punish their enablers. If these predators had no protection, they most likely would’ve been caught.

Some very smart folks, who could explain the math about capping the age at 53 much better than I, have set that age for the reasons of how long it takes for most victims to be able to come forward and the age at which the perpetrators would be at that time. This gives the best chance for as many victims as possible to get the Justice that’s been denied them.

And maybe just as important, to expose the predators so that they can’t harm another child. Litigation shines the light and truth on them and that’s what they fear the most. And contrary to what certain church leaders and media members would have you believe, Pedophiles do not “age out” of abusing children.  Fr. John Geoghan in Boston was abusing children in his 80s. The only 2 things that stop them are incarceration and death.

And to the people who inaccurately claim that enabling this 2-year window would inundate the court system with copious amounts of claims. I refer you to Marci A. Hamilton’s website for the facts – If you look at the “Relative Success” document and especially at the chart at the bottom, http://sol-reform.com/data/

you can see (1) the civil revival windows that have been opened against individuals AND institutions have not resulted in an avalanche of claims; (2) there are no false claims that have made it through the system; and (3) Georgia’s window has been relatively ineffective so far because it is only capable of being brought against individual perpetrators and aiders and abettors.

Want to know how many victims in Georgia have been able to file litigation against their abusers?

9

That’s 9 in a state of 10 million with AT LEAST 2 million victims. So far the Baptist & Catholic churches, Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Insurance lobby is winning. And Georgians are losing.

Going back to the question I had you ask yourself, what is the logic in these representative not already passing a law like this. What do THEY have to hide or be afraid of? If nothing, then it should pass unanimously, if not, then please give SERIOUS consideration to replacing your current legislator. Unfortunately, that’s the only language most lawmakers understand. Only when told they won’t be reelected will they actually listen to THEIR constituents.

I wish I could expose my abuser through the courts, but it’s too late for me. And because of this, he has gone on to molest, abuse and rape AT LEAST 7 others. Those are just the ones I know of. God and Frankie Wiley are the only 2 who know how many little boys’ childhood’s he’s murdered.

It’s too late for me, but there are approximately 2 million of your fellow Georgians who need your help. The only way this will happen is if YOU, make a stand, demand your representative pass this law or you vote in someone who will. It’s up to you. What will you do? Please don’t wait until it’s happened to one of your children or grandchildren. I beg of you.

Because I promise you, if you don’t, it WILL happen. The facts are the facts. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys WILL BE sexually abused by the age of 18. The only way this changes is with the ability to prosecute predators. The only way that happens is for the laws to be changed. And the only way that happens is when it matters to you. Will it be before or after it happens to someone you know; someone you love.

Don’t let this be another example of putting up a traffic light AFTER a tragedy has happened. You have the ability to do something now. Will you?

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Together We Heal, Inc.


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Southern Baptists, Catholics, Insurance Lobbyists and The Georgia Chamber of Commerce – SHAME ON YOU ALL!!!

While I had hope that House Bill 17 in Georgia, also known as “The Hidden Predator Act”, would be able to finally give some measure of justice for victims of childhood sexual abuse, the truth is, the bill finally signed into law was practically GUTTED.

These are the follow-up stories that get buried on the 24th back page of the Atlanta-Journal or are posted to the online-only section of a WSB-TV site. And this is why politicians and your local churches are getting away with murder of your children’s future…and souls.

But don’t take my word for it, please read what these two investigative journalists discovered.

Channel 2 investigates ‘Hidden Predator’ act’s challenges
By Terah Boyd and Rachel Stockman.

Sadly and tragically, the bottom line is this. The Southern Baptists, Roman Catholics, Insurance lobbyists and The Georgia Chamber of Commerce chose to put money before children.

Nancy Stanley told Stockman. “Anyone that would put money above children’s lives and these heinous acts that are being done to them, it’s just despicable.” And it is that very thing — Despicable!!!

And one more thing, if you think or believe…”well I don’t have anything to worry about because I don’t send my child to a Baptist or Catholic Church so my kids are safe”…think again…

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys in the U.S., NOT JUST BAPTIST OR CATHOLIC, ALL KIDS, will be sexually abused by the age of 18.

It literally breaks my heart that once again victims of this most heinous crime have been re-victimized by the very organizations and people who are supposed to be there to protect them.

What will it take for folks to finally wake up and realize what is happening to the future generations? How many children’s lives must be ruined before REAL action is taken?

Maybe when it happens to YOUR child or a child YOU KNOW, then maybe you’ll understand why I keep shouting this from the rooftops! But by then you’ll find out, there’s not a damned thing you can do about because you waited too late…

But don’t take my word for it…PLEASE, READ FOR YOURSELF…

 

 

 


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When Sex Offenders Confess to Clergy: Three Mistaken Beliefs

The following article was written by our friend, Boz Tchividjian with G.R.A.C.E. Please be sure to check out his personal blog and their website.

http://boz.religionnews.com

http://netgrace.org

This past week, a Florida pastor was arrested for failing to report the suspected sexual abuse of a child. Over a year ago, one of the three young victims informed the pastor of the ongoing abuse. Though he provided the victim with counseling, the pastor never reported the crime to the police because he “didn’t have proof”.

How does a pastor respond when informed of allegations concerning child sexual abuse? All too often the responses by pastors are too little too late. Here is a simple rule that should be followed by pastors and everyone else: Immediately report allegations of child sexual abuse. Not only will you potentially save the life of a child and stop the heinous acts of a predator, but you will also most likely be following the law.

Approximately 27 states specifically designate members of the clergy (pastors) as mandated reporters. Another 18 states designate all adults to be mandated reporters of suspected child abuse. This means that in almost every state of the country, pastors are mandated by law to report suspected child abuse or face criminal prosecution. Even in those limited circumstances when a pastor is not a mandated reporter, nothing prevents him/her from voluntarily reporting suspected abuse to the authorities.

Perhaps the most confusing issue for most pastors related to reporting child sexual abuse is what to do when a perpetrator is the one who discloses the abuse. If a perpetrator confesses to sexually abusing a child to a pastor, every effort should be made by the pastor to insure that the offender immediately reports his/her crime to the authorities. This should certainly be the expectation if the perpetrator has expressed a desire to demonstrate repentance. Expressing repentance for a crime without voluntarily submitting to the civil authorities is manipulation, not repentance. The dark reality is that most offenders who confess abuse to a pastor won’t report themselves to the authorities. In those circumstances, the pastor has a fundamental decision to make; remain silent and protect a perpetrator, or report the abuse and protect a vulnerable child.

In the past few years, I have discovered that many pastors have mistaken beliefs about reporting child sexual abuse disclosures made by perpetrators who refuse to report their crimes to the authorities. I want to briefly highlight three common mistaken beliefs:

Mistaken Belief #1: Mandated reporting exceptions prohibit pastors from reporting

Many jurisdictions that designate pastors as mandated reporters do make an exception if the disclosure was made during a confidential conversation between the perpetrator and the pastor. This exception is based upon the age-old clergy-parishioner privilege that holds sacred the private communications between a parishioner and member of the clergy. This exception does not mean that a pastor is prohibited from making the report. All it means is that a pastor who fails to report a child sexual abuse disclosure made by an alleged perpetrator will not be prosecuted for violating the mandated reporting law. Nothing prohibits the pastor from voluntarily reporting the crime to the authorities out of concern for the life and safety of a child.

Mistaken Belief #2: Clergy-parishioner privilege prohibits pastors from reporting

A pastor is never prohibited by law from reporting known or suspected child abuse to the authorities. Though the law may not prohibit such a report, a pastor who reports abuse learned during a conversation with the alleged offender may violate the clergy-parishioner privilege. However, in these circumstances such a privilege must be formally recognized by the particular church or denomination. A pastor who violates a recognized privilege could be subject to civil legal action.

The reality is that except for the Catholic Church, most churches have not formally recognized a clergy-parishioner privilege. This means that the pastor can freely report a disclosure of sexual abuse made by a perpetrator with little concern about civil legal consequences. What ultimately determines whether a pastor reports the admitted sexual abuse of a child should not be whether or not the church has a formally recognized clergy-parishioner privilege. Neither should it be whether or not the pastor may one day be sued for violating a recognized privilege. What should ultimately determine whether a pastor voluntarily reports abuse is the life and safety of a precious child made in the image of God.

Mistaken Belief #3: Rules of Evidence prohibit pastors from reporting

Rules of evidence are the rules each court follows in determining the admissibility of evidence in hearings and trials. Almost every state jurisdiction in this country recognizes some type of clergy-penitent privilege as part of its rules of evidence. All this means is that certain conversations between an offender and a member of the clergy may not be admissible in a judicial hearing or trial. Rules of evidence that exclude these communications do not prevent pastors from reporting admitted abuse to the authorities. Whether or not a conversation between a pastor and an offender is admissible in a court of law is the exclusive role of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges, not pastors.

Regardless of whether the conversation is ultimately admitted into evidence, a pastor who reports the confessed sexual abuse will protect the child by providing law enforcement the opportunity to collect additional corroborating evidence. In those circumstances, even if the court decides to exclude the “confession” from trial, there may still be sufficient evidence to convict the perpetrator. I remember prosecuting a child sexual abuse case in which the court did not allow me to admit into evidence the implicating conversation between the pastor and the defendant. Fortunately, we were still able to secure a conviction because the police had collected additional implicating evidence as a result of a brave pastor’s decision to report what he had been told.

When pastors are told about the abuse of a child, all too often too much time is spent evaluating and analyzing, instead of reporting. As the evaluations and analysis go on and on, the child is the one that pays the highest price. Just ask the three young victims in Florida.

Minimizing mistaken beliefs will prayerfully lead to maximizing the protection of little ones.

This article can be read at it’s original location below:

http://boz.religionnews.com/2014/08/01/perpetrators-confess-clergy-three-mistaken-beliefs/


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Easter – A Conflict of Emotions

For many of us who were raised in a religious setting, but also endured childhood sexual abuse at the hands of someone in the ministry, this time of year can be a conflict of emotions. For me, there was a time when I abandoned the organization that I felt had abandoned me and my fellow survivors. Unless it was a wedding or a funeral, I wouldn’t darken the doors of any church, synagogue, etc. I would even go so far as to say, for a time, I held God responsible for what happened to me and had genuine feelings of hatred toward the church and God.

It wasn’t until I had spent many years working with a therapist and in a group therapy setting, that I realized it wasn’t the fault of God that what happened to me happened. However, the churches failure to take action, support those of us who had been harmed and take the necessary steps to prevent these predators from hurting other children still causes great pain and still has no excuse.

That having been said, I read something today that I think applies to both Easter and survivors.

“I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, after all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all” ~ Leo C. Rosten.

20140420-042108.jpg

It’s clear, for those of us who subscribe to Christianity, that Christ stood for something, and made a difference in our lives by sacrificing His. Applying that to survivors of CSA, we too can take this opportunity to turn this awful, evil series of events that happened to us, and turn them into taking a stand, making a difference in the lives of our fellow survivors and help prevent this from happening to future generations of children.

For those that know me, and have been keeping up with all that Together We Heal is doing, you know we most definitely have passion, compassion, are taking responsibility and doing all we can to take honorable actions for this cause.

So as we go forward today in celebration of Easter, in acknowledging the resurrection of Christ, let’s apply this most critical of moments in His life to our own lives. We can resurrect our destroyed lives. We can restore what was taken. We can have our lives count for something. We can because we have survived a “death of our own“.

I’m not saying this because I believe all survivors should feel exactly like I do, and I most certainly understand if you still have reservations about anything having to do with any religious organization. I only write this to give you words of encouragement, to let you know that if I can make it through to this point in my recovery, I know you can too. But I don’t believe it should be forced onto anyone, by anyone. This is on your terms and in your own time.

So now with this perspective, I hope we all can look at today as a day where we are no longer shackled by the weight of guilt, shame and self-blame. We can experience a rebirth and resurrection for ourselves. We can because together…we can truly heal.

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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Cooperation Or Competition – What Will Our Legacy Be?

“Its amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit.” – Harry S. Truman

I have been working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse in a professional setting for a few years now and I’ve noticed something that worries me. There seems to be some sort of inability for all of us to work together as groups of survivors. It’s almost as if there is a competition, rather than working together in a spirt of cooperation.

I don’t have any explanation or understanding of it, but there’s one thing I do know – we need to be working together any way we can, to pool our resources for the benefit of all survivors of CSA everywhere and for the benefit of protecting children all over the world. This is much too important, our children are in too much danger and survivors need our cooperation.

I understand these are tough economic times. And I also understand the challenges each and every 501(c)(3) non-profit, public charity, and private foundation faces in times like these. I lead one, so I know it first hand. But what I also know is the very reason we formed Together We Heal was to help our fellow survivors. That’s why I am honored to work with people and organizations like SNAP, Ark of Hope for Children, The Lamplighters, Voice Found, Survivors Chat, Maryland Children’s Alliance, Victim Services Departments from Palm Beach County to Utah, Marci A. Hamilton of SOL-Reform, Rachel Grant, Jim McKenzie, Svava Brooks and soon to be working with GRACE, just to name a few. (Please forgive me for those I’ve not listed as it would take up the entire article.)

I believe with all my heart, if we join forces, we can and will see real, long-term and measurable change in the protection of children and prosecution of sexual predators.

There’s an old saying, “a rising tide lifts all boats”. And if we are to defeat the evils of childhood sexual abuse, we must work cooperatively.

The reason being: The forces that oppose us are larger, stronger and more well-funded than what we have in our smaller joint alliances. Even the largest of our groups receiving the most donations have bank accounts and organizational structures that pale in comparison to those we are fighting against. In order to take down these Goliath’s, we need the combined talents of all our efforts to be the “David” that slays this monster called Childhood Sexual Abuse.

The reason I’m reaching out and asking that we all work together is simple:

Our common foes – the sexual predators, pedophiles and those that protect them have most certainly “circled their wagons.” You can’t open a newspaper, turn on the TV, radio or open a web browser and not see or hear of ANOTHER case of these monsters being moved, freed of prosecution, given promotions to move them away from the threat of prosecution, given reduced sentences or flat out being given immunity from all wrong doing. The only way we can ever hope to make real, substantial change is for us to become as one, united in our efforts, and not wavering one iota.

We must be as zealous in defense of those wronged and in the protection of all children from potential crime as the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptists and Penn State, (just as examples) either were or currently still are in defending these monsters hiding within their walls as a haven for hunting.

And that’s the sad thing, they aren’t even hiding anymore. Once upon a time the powers that be would send them from one location to another. Long enough to destroy a number of lives before sending them onto the next location for more destruction. Now they just deny and/or defend. They are so well funded that they will sacrifice whomever it takes, pay whatever it costs, knowing they still have more in reserves and they don’t care how many children go down the tubes or how many lives are destroyed.

So I’m sending out an S.O.S. Please, let us all unite together. Put down the chains of competition and take on the yoke of cooperation. If we aren’t willing to take the steps necessary to be bound together, our children and the adult survivors of CSA don’t stand a chance. Together we have the talent, means and will to make our collective dream a reality, to make it so there would be no need for what we do.

How much greater a legacy would it be to say, we all had to find a new line of work because we had eradicated Childhood Sexual Abuse, just like we’ve eradicated other evils of society. But…

“Remember that, wherever there’s a will, there’s usually someone that’s in the way.”

Please don’t let that last quote be our legacy…

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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“We can’t prove sex with children does them harm” says Labour-linked NCCL

The following are excerpts of an article in the “Express” newspaper from the U.K. It is examples such as this that show why our fight to protect children from sexual predators/pedophiles is not just far from over, it seems as though it’s only begun. To think that a person, possibly a parent, in such a powerful position, would hold these views is beyond the pale.

I have taken some samples of what they determined but please go to the link, read the full article and do even more research. If you do, as I have, you will be disturbed beyond words at what this group tried to have done.

—–
Evidence has emerged that the views of the Paedophile Information Exchange influenced policy-making at the National Council for Civil Liberties when it was run by former Labour Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

Here are some of their beliefs:

“Childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage.

“The Criminal Law Commission should be prepared to accept the evidence from follow-up research on child ‘victims’ which show there is little subsequent effect after a child has been ‘molested’.

“The real need is a change in the attitude which assumes that all cases of paedophilia result in lasting damage.

“The present legal penalties are too high and reinforce the misinformation and prejudice. The duty of the court should be to inquire into all the relevant circumstances with the intention, not of meting out severe punishment, but of determining the best solution in the interests of both child and paedophile.”
—–

It was only after Ms. Hewitt had been “outed” as a pedophile sympathizer that she reluctantly gave excuses. But to this day has made no apologies.

—–
Mrs Hewitt, 65, was general secretary between 1974 and 1983. After days of intense pressure, the former Labour MP for Leicester West finally admitted last week the NCCL was “naive and wrong” over its ties to PIE.

She has expressed her “regret” over the NCCL’s involvement with PIE but has pointedly declined to apologize.
—–

This is why we must do all we can to protect children. We are not “chicken-little” when we say pedophile supporters hold positions of authority. This is just one example of TOO MANY where our point is proven.

At one time and/or currently, the following are just a few – Pennsylvania State University football program, the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, Jimmy Savile and so many of his broadcasting, parliamentary and entertainment scoundrels. The list is sadly endless.

Help us to help those who cannot defend themselves. Help us watch over our children and assist adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse get the aid they so dearly deserve.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/462604/We-can-t-prove-sex-with-children-does-them-harm-says-Labour-linked-NCCL

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal


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SNAP News Conference in Fort Myers Florida

Barbara Blaine and I had a SNAP news conference this week helping to make the people in Fort Myers aware of a sexual predator priest. We requested that the local Bishop help prosecute this admitted child molester…as of yet no response worthy of justice for this victim. But as David Clohessy tells us, anytime we are able to get the message out, it’s a success. We will never waiver in our efforts to protect children from these sexual predators.

If you live in the Fort Myers area, please let the church officials at St. Francis Xavier know you are not satisfied with their inaction to prosecute and ineffective leadership. Together we can make a difference in the lives of children, and together we can help protect the children if this parish leadership fails to do so.

http://www.jrn.com/fox4now/news/Abuse-survivors-group-demonstrates-outside-St-Francis-Xavier-Chruch-247343791.html?lc=Tablet