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Michele Betti of Betti &  Associates Supports SNAP Survivors to Uncover Nun Abuse at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in Silver Springs, Maryland.
By MICHELE BETTI | b&f opinions August 26, 2009

Nun Sexual Abuse – SNAP & Sexually Assaulted Victims Picket in Maryland

SILVER SPRING, Md. – On a very hot day in Silver Springs, Maryland, where the heat index was 110º, several SNSNAP Nun Abuse Reporting Standard ProtestAP survivors and SNAP advocates peacefully marched in front of the office of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

While many know of about the allegations of sexual abuse by priests, many do not know about the victimization of children by Catholic nuns.  While most nuns are loving dedicated women, some are not, and abuse victims say they should be investigated and held accountable just like priests.

One survivor, Mary Guentner, in an interview with ABC 7 news reporter Greta Cruz, said, her high school teacher abused her for years. “She worked up to kissing me on the cheek, worked up to kissing me on the mouth, and then worked up to undressing me and touching me all over the place.” Guentner said.

Steve Theisen was in fourth grade when his abuse began. He said one day while clapping erasers after school, his nun asked him to come over to her desk.  She said to him, “I want to show you how the Eskimos kiss.”  And then they rubbed noses together.  A couple of days later she called him over after school and said, “I want to show you how Americans kiss,” and kissed him on the lips.  A few days later she called him over to her desk again and said, “Now I want to show you how the French kiss.”  After that Steve said it escalated from there and continued for some time.  Steve is a brave survivor for coming forward and exposing his nun abuse.

As much as we all loved our nuns in school, and feared them at times, many of us have fond and lasting memories of the nuns who taught us.  But, the important thing to remember here is that nuns abuse too; women abuse too; and we cannot forget that.  Unfortunately, whenever there are children involved, there is a potential for abuse.  It is the sad truth.

As Cruz reports, there are no accurate statistics of abuse by Women Religious, although at least two nuns have been criminally charged, including Sister Norma Giannini who was jailed last year for having sex with middle school boys in Milwaukee 40 years ago.

Barbara Blaine, President of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) spoke before reporters at the march and said, “The priest abuse crisis led to a national conference in Dallas and established procedures for reporting and treating abuse. But there is nothing comparable for nuns.”  We [of SNAP] would like to see the same reporting standards for nuns that the priests have.”

Hopefully, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will recognize the existence of nun abuse and implement national reporting standards.  Let’s not let a few spoil it for the rest of these loving dedicated women.  And let’s hope that survivors of nun abuse come forward so that the next generation of children can live free from abuse.

To see live footage of the march in Silver Springs go to http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0809/648351_video.html?ref=newsstory

Copyright 2009, b&f opinions.