Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Abused-by-clergy group convenes

The Linkup claims 3000 members

By Lori Burling
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A national advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse by clergy will hold its annual conference this week in Kentucky, where the number of lawsuits alleging such abuse within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville continues to grow.

Susan Archibald, president of The Linkup, said the conference comes after a year that included more sexual abuse claims within the nation's churches than previous years.

"This conference, the `survivor pilgrimage,' will mark a new future for the survivors movement," Archibald said. "The goal of this conference is to help the victims, learning about things they can do not only to help themselves but to help the bigger problem."

The Linkup was established in 1991 to help victims of clergy sexual abuse cope with the emotional aftermath. As the number of cases grew, the support system became a national voice urging churches and religions to take responsibility for the abuse cases. The Louisville-based organization now has more than 3,000 members, according to its Web site.

"The number of people that have been victimized in Kentucky is tremendous," Archibald said. "The center of energy is in Kentucky now."

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville is facing 213 pending lawsuits that claim the church covered up the incidents.

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