Vigil Held on Five Year Anniversary of Priest Sex Abuse Scandal

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Knoxville (WVLT) - A Knoxville group took part in a nationwide vigil Sunday, honoring the five year anniversary of the Priest sex abuse scandal.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford shows us what some east Tennesseans are doing to get answers from the Catholic Diocese

Five years ago this weekend, the news broke about the hundreds of Catholic priests admitting to child molestation across the United States.

"We're here, a small group, standing to represent hundreds and hundreds of victims of clergy sexual abuse across the state of Tennessee," says Susan Vance, Tennessee SNAP Coordinator.

The self-help group out of Knoxville is called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"We continue to to find victims daily, weekly, monthly," says Vance.

The group is out here in front of the Diocese of Knoxville with a message.

Vance says, "There have been priests assigned in almost every church across East Tennessee who were perpetrating priests who did abuse."

State Coordinator Susan Vance says SNAP is speaking out for the hundreds of alleged abuse victims who can't.

"Every figure on this chain represents an individual person with a name, a life and a severe trauma from what has happened to them."

No one from the Knoxville Diocese was available to talk Sunday, but, in the sexual misconduct policy on the Diocesen Website Bishop Joseph Kurtz states , quote "The sexual abuse of children and young people is particularly grave, and in the words of Pope John Paull II, "by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society. It is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God."

Annette Alix says, "I was the type of Catholic mother that brought her children up to believe in the church."

Annette Alix says she was the church organist and Sunday School teacher at a Lenoir City parish twenty years ago, where the priest held weekend sleepovers her son attended.

"Since my son's father and I were divorced, I thought that was a great idea," says Alix.

But little did Alix know what her priest did to her son and other boys at those sleepovers.

"I know that he was raped, he was sodomized, he was given alcohol, he was given pornographic magazines, and my son was never able to tell me," says Alix.

Alix says her son was at the point of committing suicide when he finally told her.

"He was barely eleven years old. This priest took him into his bed and raped him," says Alix.

Alix says the priest was transferred to a church in Nashville and is now in jail, but says no one was ever told why.

"The first thing a parishoner thinks is, oh, it's got to be a mistake. They're being falsely accused. That's not the case," says Alix.

The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville's policy states that the Bishop or his designated representative will decide whether public response is warranted considering the facts of each separate case of sexual exploitation.