Diana is a plaintiff in Brogdon et al v. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles et al. 4:20-cv-00566, represented by Ashley Pileika of Forester Haynie.
I am speaking publicly to help fight and end clergy abuse. I was molested by Charles Knapp from St. Bernard Parish in my Pirtleville home when I was five. I was targeted, groomed, abused during a time in which Charles Knapp, based on a rotating schedule maintained by the parish secretary, was hosted for meals in the homes of parishioners, many with young children, under the pretense of saving St. Bernard money. I was made to believe that my parents would die should I tell, so I never did. On top of the abuse, my catechism teacher repeatedly accosted me with accusations of being a sinner, and threats that the devil would come get me because of what I had done. Soon after I was abused, the priest left St. Bernard. He then served in Eloy, Safford, Yuma, Nogales, Phoenix and Tucson, a pattern of movement common among clergy known by the diocese to be abusers.
In 2019, I reported the abuse to the Tucson Diocese and after a flimsy ‘investigation’, I met with Bishop Weisenburger to relay concerns for children to which the priest might have access. Bishop Weisenburger said that the abusive priest “was much needed” in ministry and was not a risk to children. Fr. Knapp was permitted by Bishop Weisenburger to continue serving in active ministry, working with vulnerable populations on Davis–Monthan Air Force Base and within the prison system. I was sent away with an apology, a prayer, and an offer of 10 counseling sessions with the diocesan counselor.
The abuse I suffered means nothing to the Diocese. The priest continued to minister. Although Bishop Weisenburger indicated otherwise, the abuse was not reported to the authorities; I was never contacted by law enforcement. I am especially concerned due to Bishop Weisenburger’s history of deleting information and mishandling allegations of clergy abuse while he served as Vicor General in Oklahoma from 1998 through 2012.
The RICO lawsuit filed by Forester Haynie against the Diocese of Tucson, which I am a named plaintiff in, is a reminder that the dioceses’ inaction enables, protects, and defends the worldwide culture of abuse embedded in the Roman Catholic church. I joined this lawsuit to incite action needed to end clergy abuse, and to encourage other victims to come forward.
Please, if you are a victim of clergy abuse, tell someone. Tell anyone. It is the first step toward healing. If you are a victim, recognize your courage and know that you are not alone.