The student news site of the University of WI - Eau Claire

Abused and scarred: Children survive priest sexual assault

May 13, 2018

Peter Isely, a survivor of priest abuse and a founding member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), was sexually assaulted at age 13 at Saint Lawrence Seminary High School in Fond Du Lac county. His story illustrates the struggles he and other survivors faced and how the abuse changed his life.

Documents discussed in the podcast are linked below for listener reference:

  • Isely publicized his abuse in the Milwaukee Journal in 1992.
  • Victim blaming tactics used by Isely’s offender.
  • Court documents and victim testimony involving accused priests at St. Lawrence.

 

Father Gale Liefeld starting abusing Peter Isely when he was 13. The grooming techniques Liefeld used are recognized in a 2015 research article written by the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire professor and researcher, Jason Spraitz. The tactics priests who abuse children use, make it hard to identify and stop the assault.

 

Through his work with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Peter Isely says the reason sexual abuse occurs in the Catholic Church is because the culture and structure of the church is flawed. Sexual assault is possible in the Catholic Church due to the high esteem priests are held in, the complex, duel legal system sexual assault cases go through and the belief system of the church.

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