May 16, 2005

Alleged abuse survivor works to promote healing in the church


By Rebecca Drake

SPRINGFIELD – The Hampden County District Attorney has decided not to file charges of sexual assault against former Catholic priest John R. Russell.

But Springfield native Janet M. (Bengle) Ruidl will not be deterred in her quest to publicize her alleged victimization as a youngster in Holy Cross Parish in the late 1960s. She believes other girls may have been victimized by Father Russell at that time.

Now a resident of the Milwaukee Diocese in Wisconsin, Ruidl said she was the subject of inappropriate sexual advances and an alleged sexual assault perpetuated by the then-Catholic priest between 1968 and the early 1970s when she was in high school and the first year of nursing school.

After more than three decades of internal struggle with the alleged events of her adolescence, and after the national clergy abuse scandal erupted, Ruidl decided to report her misconduct story to the Springfield Diocesan Review Board in April 2004. The review board deemed the story credible and forwarded the report to Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett. In a telephone interview with The Catholic Observer, Father Russell denied all charges made in Ruidl’s statement.

Posted by kshaw at May 16, 2005 02:18 PM