It has been a week since the grand jury report came revealing decades of child sex abuse covered up in the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese.
Victim advocates are speaking out and want victims to know they are not alone.
“I want to stand in solidarity of all victims, not only victims of the Catholic church but there are many victims out there and the stories are coming forward,” Pam Erdely said. Erdely said she was sexually abused by a nun in Pittsburgh when she was 17.
“Typically as all victims do I thought I was somehow at fault and felt responsible,” Erdely said.
She and others are standing together, seeking some kind of justice for the hundreds that were abused.
“I think these victims need to be supported. They’ve never been believed in decades long,’ Rosalind Merritts said.
SNAP is network for victims of clergy abuse. They said they can’t believe Bishop Bartchak didn’t bring evidence of abuse to law enforcement sooner.
“That’s victims’ biggest concern,” said SNAP Midwest Associate Director Judy Jones. “Yes, child predators need to be kept away from kids forever, but the cover-up has to stop.”
They have a few demands, starting with firing the rest of those singled out in the grand jury report.
“There was no ownership for what happened,” Merritts said. “There was really no remorse.”
They feel that Bishop Bartchak’s statement was insincere.
“They were more concerned about Catholics,” Jones said. “They didn’t want Catholics to leave the church than caring anything about the victims. Uh, good grief. … I don’t know what to say. It just makes me sick.”
Others are left picking up the pieces of their faith.
“I am just a disenchanted Catholic for everything that’s happened,” Merritts said. “I love my faith… but it’s hard to have your faith shaken by those allegations so long ago.”
Is there a way for the Diocese to atone for decades of covering up the abuse? SNAP said that’s unlikely.
“We’re wondering why Bartchak isn’t being charged along with many others,” Jones said. “That’s the only way they’re going to get it and that’s the only way that anything is going to change and kids are gonna be protected.”