CHICAGO — The founder of the group that advocates for priest abuse victims has stepped down after three decades of campaigning to force the Catholic Church to recognize the extent of the scandal and compensate thousands of people affected.
Barbara Blaine, President and founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said she was abused herself and the organization was created through her efforts to reach out to other victims, the Chicago Tribune reported
“I knew there were other survivors out there and wondered if they felt the same debilitating hurt and if so, how they coped with it. I thought they might hold the wisdom I lacked. I looked for other survivors and asked if they would be willing to talk,” Blaine said in a statement.
Blaine did not say why she resigned. She and several other top SNAP officials were sued last month by a former employee who says she was fired shortly after asking superiors whether SNAP was referring potential clients to attorneys in return for donations.
SNAP announced at the end of January that another one of those top officials, former Executive Direct David Clohessy, had resigned. Blaine and Clohessy both said their resignations were unrelated to the lawsuit.
Blaine founded SNAP in 1988, years after she was abused as an 8th grader by a Toledo, Ohio priest who taught at the Catholic school she attended, according to the organization’s website. Her pleas for help to Toledo’s bishop were ignored. The first SNAP meeting of victims was held at a Holiday Inn in Chicago.
The group gained prominence in 2002 after the Boston Globe’s stories on the priest sexual abuse scandal rocked the Catholic Church.
The organization now has more than 20,000 members and support groups meet in over 60 cities across the U.S. and the world.
“Her tenacity and fortitude helped expose abuse globally during the past three decades,” SNAP board member Mary Ellen Kruger said in a statement.
Blaine’s resignation took effect Feb. 3.