Abuse alleged at St. Christine

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A Boardman man said Wednesday he was abused in 1976 by a teacher and deacon while he was an 8th-grade student at St. Christine School in Youngstown.

Jerry Arnal, 51, said he reported the abuse in 1987 and 2008 to school and diocese officials and to the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s office, but no action has been taken.

Arnal, who was with the advocate group the Survivors Network of those Abused  by Priests, said prosecutors told him the statute of limitations has run out so they are unable to file charges.

Arnal and SNAP officials refused to name the deacon they claim abused Arnal.

SNAP also claimed they received an anonymous letter claiming the same deacon had sex with a girl student at Cardinal Mooney. They asked for the people who sent the letter to come forward.

The Youngstown Catholic Diocese said the deacon accused is no longer working in the diocese “in any capacity.” They said he left the diocese in January. The diocese said they reported the allegation to Mahoning County Children Services and it was fully investigated.

“It should also be noted that the accusation was fully investigated, and even though it could not  be substantiated, the Diocese of Youngstown has responded pastorally and provided assistance to the accuser.  The accuser sent a thank you to the Diocese for their ‘concern and attention’,” the Diocese said in an email statement.

Arnal said Bishop George Murry responded to him in 2011, telling Arnal that he hired a private investigator, who found no evidence of molestation.

“It came to my word against his,” Arnal said.

Arnal said contemplated and attempted suicide several times throughout his life because of the abuse.

“I contemplated suicide, and almost succeed. I thank my God I’m here today,” Arnal said. “I don’t want their money, I don’t need their money. Money won’t heal any pain that I’ve ever had.”

Arnal said he decided to speak publicly about the abuse because he wants other abuse victims to know others shared their experiences.

“I can help you,” Arnal said through tears. “I know what you’re going through. I know what you’ve been through. That’s all.”

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