HOLLIDAYSBURG - David Clohessy stood alone Monday morning on the side of South Logan Boulevard with a handful of laminated portraits of smiling children clutched tightly in his hands.
At times pausing to wipe tears from his eyes, Clohessy, the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said the children in the pictures - his own childhood photo included - were all abused by members of the clergy.
Clohessy said he wants the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown to share its own portraits: portraits of diocesan priests accused of sexual misconduct and abuse involving children.
Mirror photo by Zach Geiger
David Clohessy, director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, stands outside of the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown holding signs with childhood portraits of those abused by priests and sexual predators.
"We want [Bishop Mark L. Bartchak] to take aggressive steps to both try and find victims, and help law enforcement," Clohessy of St. Louis said.
But the diocese has been aggressively pursuing the case, officials said.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who has suffered sexual abuse in our society," diocesan spokesman Tony DeGol said in an email. "I can assure the faithful of Altoona-Johnstown that Bishop Bartchak will continue to take the necessary steps to protect God's precious children. He is committed to providing a safe environment in our parishes and schools, and he is willing to reach out to anyone who may have been a victim of sexual abuse in our Diocese.
"As always, we urge victims of sexual abuse to please contact our Victim Advocate, Sister Marilyn Welch ... at 886-3972."
But not enough has been done, Clohessy said.
Accused priests should be identified with a photo on the diocese's website, the "absolute bare minimum any bishop should do," he said.
"We also want [the bishop] to find victims of the recently accused priest, Father [George D.] Koharchik," he said.
Koharchik, a former Cambria County priest, was suspended from active ministry in Clearfield County in August after allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors emerged. No charges have been filed against him.
Himself the victim of sexual abuse between the ages of 11 to 16, Clohessy said he and his brothers were sexually abused by their pastor, who was a family friend.
In a 2002 interview with The New York Times, Clohessy told the paper his brother, Kevin Clohessy, went on to become a priest and was later involved in allegations of sexual misconduct.
SNAP officials also faced legal trouble earlier in the year for failing to turn over documents sought as evidence of a potential gag-order violation in a sexual abuse case against a St. Louis pastor and diocese, according to KMOX-AM in St. Louis.
Despite the controversy, Clohessy praised the victims who have come forward and said those involved in any cover-up of abuse should be punished by the law.
"It's very healing for the victims when the truth is told," Clohessy said.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.