Clergy abuse victims call for independent investigation of Catholic Diocese of Nashville


Clergy abuse victims came forward in Nashville Friday calling for an independent investigation into abuse at the hands of those within the Catholic Dioceses.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) leader David Brown recalled the horror of his abuse more than 50 years ago while holding up a photo of what he refers to as his former self.

"This boy was an Irish Catholic kid growing up in Nashville. His only desire from the 7th grade on was to be a priest. Every body knew it. Along comes Paul Haas, he takes me under his win. And this boy died, you see right here, on the floor of a 1961. You see what’s left."

The news conference comes in the wake of 13 names of priests accused of sexually abusing minors released by the Catholic Dioceses of Nashville. Brown's alleged abuser, Paul Frederick Haas, was on that list.

Some of those priests were active in churches in the Tri Cities, including James Arthur Rudisill, Edward Albert Walenga, William Floyd Davis and William Claude Casey, who was convicted in 2011 of raping a child in the 1970s in Kingsport. He is currently in prison.

Brown claims church seniors, priests and bishops knew Haas was an abuse and did “nothing to stop him.”

Brown said Haas abused him in 1961 and was arrested in a sting at Centennial Park in 1962. The priest was moved away to Chattanooga, then to Memphis, then to Little Rock and then to Owensboro, Ky where he taught for 10 years, according to Brown.

Haas died in 1979 and Owensboro had no knowledge he was an abuser.

“The Nashville Diocese shipped over state lines someone they knew had a violent record," Brown said.

Another victim, found out just 30 minutes before the news conference the priest who allegedly abused him is still alive.

“We thought he was dead for years," Brown said. "We do not know where he went.”

Mike Coode said he was also abused.

"I personally knew every one of these," Coode said of the priests named in the list. "Unfortunately the list is not complete – there are others. I know of other priests who went before the review board and there accusers were deemed not credible."

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