The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests told its volunteers on Saturday that its president and founder has resigned.
Barbara Blaine, who also describes herself as a survivor, founded the group in Chicago nearly three decades ago. Her resignation, effective Friday, comes a week after SNAP announced the departure of its national director David Clohessy, effective Dec. 31, 2016.
Both were named in a lawsuit filed in Cook County last month by a former SNAP employee, accusing the leaders of referring potential clients to attorneys in return for financial kickbacks to the group.
But Blaine said her leaving had nothing to do with the suit and “no bearing” on her leaving.
Blaine, who describes herself as a survivor, expressed gratitude for her supporters in an emailed statement.
“It has been the greatest honor of my life to have found and been your president for the past 29 years. Change however is inevitable,” Blaine said in the statement.
Mary Ellen Kruger, who is on the SNAP board, said in an emailed statement they are “grateful for her 29 years of leadership.”
“Her contribution to the survivors movement is unsurpassed. Her tenacity and fortitude helped expose abuse globally during the past three decades. We will carry on her vision of SNAP as we grow in new ways to better meet the needs of survivors coming forward today and in the future. We wish Barbara the best,” Kruger said in the statement.
It was a horrible feeling twenty-nine years ago,” Blaine said in the statement. “Church officials would not keep their promises. My perpetrator remained in ministry but more importantly, I felt such immense pain that I was not sure I could continue to live,” Blaine said.
“I knew there were other survivors out there and wondered if they felt the same debilitating hurt and if so, how they coped with it. I thought they might hold the wisdom I lacked. I looked for other survivors and asked if they would be willing to talk.
“Somewhere in the past twenty-nine years you got involved and I want to thank you for doing so. To be honest, my heart is overflowing with gratitude to each of you. Words fail to express the extent of how grateful I feel,” Blaine said in the statement.
Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director, has become the managing director, according to SNAP. The group said Dorris will work closely with the board of directors to continue to engage the group’s volunteer leadership nationwide to help more survivors of sexual abuse and assault, and to stop further abuse, according to the statement.
Blaine and Dorris are defendants, along with SNAP and Executive Director David Clohessy, in a lawsuit filed last month by a former employee. In that lawsuit, former director of development Gretchen Rachel Hammond says she was fired shortly after asking superiors whether SNAP was referring potential clients to attorneys in exchange for donations.
“Please know that the recent lawsuit filed against SNAP, as the others in the past which have no merit, had absolutely no bearing on my leaving. The discussions and process of my departure has been ongoing, Blaine said in the statement.