AUSTIN, Texas — Thursday's public release by the Roman Catholic Church listing almost 300 former Texas priests was a long time coming for clergy sexual abuse survivors like Carol Midboe, who came forward years ago and now volunteers with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.
- Support groups encourage survivors to reach out
- No statute of limitations for sexual assault of a child, indecency with a child
- Texas Attorney General stands ready to support local investigators
"It's vital for people's sense of well-being and to know they are not alone," she said.
CONTINUING COVERAGE | List of Affected Archiocese of San Antonio Parishes
Midboe's still waiting to hear from new survivors to come forward. She said a priest abused her as a child, which she said caused more than just physical or emotional trauma.
"There is a religious spiritual injury that happens to children," she said. "Having a network of survivors of clergy sexual abuse provides peer support for people who can relate to that aspect of the spiritual injury."
CONTINUING COVERAGE | List and Map of Affected Diocese of Austin Parishes
Bishop Joe Vásquez of the Diocese of Austin said Thursday the church's focus is on children abused by the priests he and fellow clergy named. Of the 22 former priests named by the Diocese of Austin, Vásquez said most cases pre-date a policy implemented by the church in 2002 called Ethics and Integrity in Ministry, or EIM. It created an entire office within the church dedicated to rooting out abuse.
"Since 2002, we have had only three cases in the Diocese of Austin that have occured of clergymen abusing a minor," he said. "I think it tells us that is a move forward. One incident of abuse is too much."
Midboe hopes survivors will have the strength to talk.
"I am hoping that this provides them the opportunity to have those conversations with loved ones or with support networks like SNAP," she said.
State leaders vow to support local law enforcement. There is no statute of limitations in Texas for the crimes of indecency with a child or sexual assault of a child. However, only police departments and sheriff's offices are able to launch investigations.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released the following statement Friday afternoon:
"My office stands ready to provide whatever assistance local investigators and prosecutors may need in accordance with state law. I am committed to helping provide safe communities for Texas children and communities of faith alike. Protecting the most vulnerable among us, especially our children, is our top priority. No one should live in fear of abuse, especially when they believe they are in the hands of their church family."