Taskforce announces initiative in response to sexual abuse within Diocese of Springfield

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – An independent task force announced an initiative on the response to sexual abuse within the Diocese of Springfield.

Bishop William Byrne joined members of the independent task force along with representatives from the Stop It Now! organization Thursday at 2:30 p.m. outside the Bishop Marshall Center on Elliot Street in Springfield.

According to a news release sent to 22News from the Diocese of Springfield, the news conference is about an initiative to conduct listening sessions and surveying those who were sexually abused by members of the Catholic clergy.

Members of that task force and Peter Pollard of the organization “Stop it Now!” plan to hold group conversations and focus groups with victims from all four counties in western Massachusetts. Pollard is a victim of clergy sex abuse.

“Come forward and let us know what would’ve been helpful at the time?” asked Pollard. “What would be helpful to heal now? What real accountability would look like? What would prevent future abuse?”

The 10-person special independent task force was created in May of 2020 that reportedly is chaired by retired Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford and vice chaired by Irene Woods, founding executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and the North Quabbin. Additional members included the following:

  1. Orlando Isaza
  2. Ronald Johnson
  3. Rev. Michael Pierz
  4. Sister of St. Joseph Mary Quinn
  5. James Stankiewicz
  6. Joan Tabachnick
  7. Rev. William Tourigny
  8. Amber Zinni
Task Force Members (Courtesy: Diocese of Springfield)

Stop It Now! is an organization that helps adults take responsibility to prevent and stop sexual abuse of children. The program offers services that include a confidential national prevention helpline 1-888-PREVENT, email and online help.

Clergy sexual abuse has been a major issue in the Catholic Church for many years. 22News will reveal what the Diocese of Springfield is planning to do to ensure no children are further victimized.

The Springfield Diocese along with the task force plan to gather information from victims and release their findings by March 1.

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