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Alleged victim speaks out after sexual abuse case against priest

(WTRF) - It's been over a week since the Diocese of Steubenville removed retired priest, Monsignor Mark Froehlich after allegations of sexual abuse were deemed "credible".

But "Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests" or SNAP officials and alleged victims are now claiming the Diocese knew about the complaint since January.

There is an active investigation ongoing with the Belmont County Sheriffs Office regarding the issue, but according to SNAP, they want to see more being done.

Judy Jones, the SNAP Midwest Associate Leader, is standing alongside one of the alleged victims that came forward, Amanda Dutton. "The victim reported it way back in January. What took them so long?" says Jones.

Amanda says that she's been trying to report the incident since she was a teenager. "It's very hard to come forward...[Diocese said] Tell another priest, go within the Diocese. I did, I followed all orders, and once again they told me it was my fault for the way I was dressed."

Fast forward to January 2018, and Amanda made a report to the Diocese of Steubenville. She later called them for an update. "I called the Diocese again, and they say 'oh on the contrary. This has been handled.' I said great! What happened? 'We asked him if he did it or not.'"

7News has reached out to the Diocese for their input. Communications Director Dino Orsatti says the Diocese was notified of these allegations back in January.  He says attorneys immediately sent a registered letter of the complaint to the Belmont County sheriff's office and Child Services. 

The Diocese is currently working with the Belmont County Sheriff's Department through their investigation. Jones says they want the Diocese to turn over all church documents regarding Froehlich to the police, but according to the Diocese, they have already done so.

Aside from this particular case, SNAP is urging any other victims to come forward and get justice. Jones says, "We also urge anyone who has any information or any knowledge that may have been harmed to please contact law enforcement. They need all the information they can get." Amanda says, "I'm here. I'm doing it. Join me, if you're a victim, follow me. Let's take down the bad guy."

If you have any information or are a victim, you are urged to call Detective Doug Cruse at (740) 695-7933 extension 148 or SNAP.

7News will be sure to keep you updated while this investigation is ongoing.

Meanwhile, after further investigation, this is not the first time this case has been in the news.

According to the 7News files, Amanda and her boyfriend, Michael Lindamood, were indicted on several charges of extortion and complicity in 2003. The charges stemmed from a blackmail case against Monsignor Froehlich, which took place over the course of two years.

According to the 7News files, the two were forcing Froehlich to pay hush money to keep silent about something they claimed to know.

Froehlich had been making payments totaling $15,000 over a two year period to Dutton after she reportedly threatened to go public with sexual allegations.

The couple plead guilty to one count of extortion and one count of complicity in the case.


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