COLLEGEVILLE – A former St. John’s Preparatory School student launched a Web site Wednesday to help molestation victims and challenged Catholic officials in a letter to defend delays in notifying potential victims.
“There are inaccuracies in Mr. (Pat) Marker’s letter,” said the Rev. William Skudlarek, abbey spokesman. “We will advise him of the inaccuracies in our response to him but will not engage in a media debate with him.”
Marker said his Web site, www.behindthepinecurtain.com, is intended to help victims feel “validated.”
“This Web site has the potential to heal,” Marker said.
The site contains more than 200 published articles about the clergy sex abuse scandal as it relates to the St. John’s community, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, a national advocacy group for victims.
Marker, who was molested by a St. John’s priest in 1983, resigned in protest Friday from an external review board that was formed in response to a clergy sexual abuse scandal.
Last month, the Collegeville abbey publicized allegations of sexual misconduct in the 1970s and 1980s that were made against three of its monks, one of whom has died.
The Rev. Michael Bik, one of the three monks, was accused of misconduct with two teen-age boys in the 1970s, before he joined the abbey and before his ordination.
The abbey settled several lawsuits against its members in 2002, and St. John’s Preparatory School students were told at the time to see Bik “for support,” Marker said.
A year later, the review board asked about “all allegations against members of the community,” but Bik’s name was not brought forward for months, Marker said.
“Archdiocesan and abbey officials knew about allegations against Bik in 1997. … And then the board kept the secret from the public,” Marker said.
Marker sent his letter Wednesday via fax and e-mail to Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Abbot John Klassen of St. John’s Abbey.
In it, Marker asked Klassen “to make public your reasons for waiting nine years to publicly disclose allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Bik.”
And Marker also asked Flynn in the letter “to make public your reasons for never disclosing allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Bik.”
As many as 13 priests at the abbey have faced similar allegations. And at least 26 priests in the St. Cloud diocese were accused of sexual abuse from 1950 to 2003.
“This type of secrecy is dangerous for kids, unhealthy for adults and hurtful to the entire Catholic community,” said Marker, a 41-year-old Internet consultant from Washington.
Bik worked at two Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis before joining the monastery in Collegeville.
“The abbey has frequently urged, and will continue to urge, possible victims to come forward,” Skudlarek said.
Bik also worked at St. John’s Preparatory School for five years after the 1997 accusation was made against him. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Abbey officials “knowingly allowed the perpetrator to work with children and young adults for another five years,” said David Clohessy, national director of SNAP.
Bik, 57, lives at the monastery but works under restrictions set by Project Pathfinder Inc., a Twin Cities-based, private, nonprofit organization that develops recommendations for treatment.
“The abbey will continue to work closely with the external review board,” Skudlarek said.
But Marker wants more. He challenged Flynn and Klassen to “make public your plan to notify every possible victim of Michael Bik.”
“I am taking a proactive approach. …. I expect to fail in my quest for full disclosure, but someone has to try,” he said.
Victim creates Web site
By Frank Lee
Published: August 24. 2006
Victim creates Web site (SC Times)