Survivors of clergy abuse want more transparency about accused priest

1 month 3 days 1 hour ago Tuesday, March 19 2019 Mar 19, 2019 Tuesday, March 19, 2019 4:09:00 PM CDT March 19, 2019 in News
By: Eric Graves, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Victims of clergy sexual abuse said the Jefferson City Diocese needs to be more open about a priest recently put under investigation for "boundary violations with a minor."

Father Geoffrey Brooke has been barred from practicing while the diocese investigates the allegations. 

David Clohessy, a representative of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said Bishop Shawn McKnight should release the work history of any priest accused of sexual misconduct.

"The more information we have the better we can protect our families," Clohessy said.

He said Brooke's work wasn't confined to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Jefferson City. Brooke also was involved at the Newman Center, a gathering place for Catholics on the University of Missouri campus, Clohessy said.

Helen Osman, a representative of diocese, said she could not confirm whether Brooke was involved at the Newman Center.

A student there, Tyler Peterson, said he knows Brooke.

Peterson told KOMU 8 News that Brooke went to the Newman Center and attended MU, "like 10 years ago."

Peterson said he took a class taught by Brooke at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. He said, during the time he was in Brooke's class, he did not notice anything wrong.

“There’s nothing that I know of that would make me think he would do anything malicious to children or anyone like that," Peterson said.

He said he is not going to make any judgments until there is an investigation.

“I want to know the details, and, for now, he should definitely not have his name slandered," Peterson said.

The Jefferson City Diocese maintains a webpage listing clergy who have been accused of abuse. Clohessy said, in addition to the names, it should include all of the locations where that clergy member has worked.

"With the bishop, the first job should be 'here's where these predator priests are,'" Clohessy said.

Osman said the diocese does not do that because victims of clergy sexual abuse have specifically asked it not to disclose locations for privacy reasons. 

She said she believes the diocese and SNAP have the same goal to help anyone hurt and to "promote healing and justice."

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