Press Release: Kunati Publisher: May 19th, 2009, 10:58 am
The First Successful Lawsuit in US History Where Victims of a Catholic Orphanage Received Monetary Restitution for Abuse Turned Victim Kim Michele Richardson into a Role Model
Victim Class-Action Lawsuit against Vatican Allowed by Federal Judge
Following numerous appearances on broadcast television and even the front page of daily papers, Kim Michele Richardson — because of her exposé book The Unbreakable Child, describing child abuse in a Catholic orphanage — became a symbol of hope for thousands of abuse victims. The Unbreakable Child is the first book published by a victim of clergy abuse who participated in a successful suit.
"I can't ignore the calls for help, but I'm finding it emotional and difficult to answer them personally," Kim Michele Richardson said. "There are now hundreds of emails in my inbox, and more come daily. These messages are very difficult to read. I get phone calls as well. I try to answer everyone—although there are so many! I refer them to organizations such as SNAP—the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests."
Richardson's brave account of her own abuse in The Unbreakable Child, drew hundreds of emails and letters and has made her a focal point of media attention, appeals for help from abuse victims, and even the Catholic Church. Author Richardson donated all of her publishing advance and a portion of her royalties to advocacy groups for victims.
Nun Supports Richardson’s Story of Courage
Although the Catholic Church may not have formally apologized to Richardson for her ordeal, The Unbreakable Child is being widely circulated by clergy and nuns, including on Catholic websites. One nun, Sister Ann-Marie Borgess, SND, bravely wrote: “I just finished reading The Unbreakable Child. It was one of the hardest books I've ever read, yet one of the most necessary. I am a Catholic nun and was outraged at the humiliation, degradation, pain and exploitation you and the others experienced during your years. I am so very, very sorry that those who should have shown God's love for you treated you with such cruel intent.”
Advocates Highlight the Bravery of a Victim “Telling All”
David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, who has appeared on Oprah and media around the world, also praised Kim Michele’s bravery in writing, The Unbreakable Child: “All of us can benefit from both parts of this gripping story: how it is that innocent, trusting, vulnerable kids are abused, and how it is that deeply wounded adults can and do overcome unimaginable horror.”
Other advocates agree. J. McGregor, donated a dozen books of The Unbreakable Child, to Maryhurst, a group home for troubled teenagers, and wrote “When I started reading Kim's memoir one evening I could not put it down. I sat up all night between tears and smiles. This book will always stay with me in my heart and soul. “
Richardson and Other Victims Sue Clergy
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth settled in 2006 after a suit brought by 45 victims, including Kim Michele Richardson and her sisters. High profile attorney William F. McMurry, who represented them, said that in the previous lawsuit involving 243 victims: “Probably the most powerful testimony came from a former priest Louis Miller (named as the perp in 90 of the 243 cases). He testified that he twice went to two different Archbishops telling of his abuse of kids and that he couldn’t stop himself.” Mr. McMurry added that the church sent the priest back to the parishes saying “go and sin no more.”
Mr. McMurry believes “that crimes should not go unpunished.” When asked how he might respond to devout Catholics who criticized his role in suing the church, he responded: “As hard as it is to believe, and it seems counter intuitive, virtually all my mail, notes cards, messages and taps on the shoulder were extremely supportive.” He added, “Catholics know the difference between right and wrong.”
The Vatican Class-Action Lawsuit
In early 2007, a Federal Judge issued a historical decision to attorney William F. McMurry by refusing to dismiss a nationwide class-action lawsuit against the Vatican alleging cover-up to protect priests who molested American children. If the courts decision is upheld on appeal it will open the door for Mr. McMurry to take depositions from Vatican officials, even the Pope.
When asked about the “Vatican Case” Mr. McMurry said, “It is crucial that the institution responsible for the abuse be held accountable. Secrecy allowed decades of abuse to occur. The Holy See mandated that secrecy and should be held accountable to US citizens, in US Courts.”
Mr. McMurry said he was relieved that Kunati decided to publish Richardson’s book. “Kim put so much of herself on the line for the book. I wanted to see it published.”
More Than A Story of Abuse
Kim Michele Richardson explained that The Unbreakable Child was “more than just an important story that had to be told. It was difficult to write, especially knowing that I was revealing all about my own life. It’s important that people learn from the past. It’s important we find reconciliation, forgiveness and that we learn and grow from these terrible ordeals.” Her calm eloquence in television interviews, together with her frankness, appear to resonate with other victims and even the clergy.
Judge Refuses to Dismiss Allegations
In the decision, Judge Heyburn refused to dismiss allegations that the Vatican failed to report incidents of child abuse and did not warn parishioners that their children would be exposed to pedophiles. McMurry, who won the first ever financial settlement from an order of Roman Catholic nuns for decades of child abuse in the state of Kentucky, believes he will be successful again. The case is reported in Kim Michele Richardson’s book, The Unbreakable Child, a book given a rare starred review by the American Library Association’s Booklist.
Unspeakable Horror Described
Kim Michele Richardson, one of the plaintiffs in the suit against the nuns, wrote a harrowing memoir of her life in the care of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in rural Kentucky. With thousands of children in the care of the Catholic Church today, Richardson says "I hope The Unbreakable Child will serve as a strong warning so the abuse I endured will never happen to another child."
The Unbreakable Child
Kim Michele Richardson
240 pages, Cloth, 5.5 x 8.5
$24.95 (CAN $25.95)
• STARRED REVIEW from American Library Association's BOOKLIST
“Richardson's candid accounts are chilling, and the strength she shows with a very supportive husband at her side is inspiring. Remarkably, she did not abandon the Church and in fact sends her children to Catholic schools. Hers is a beautifully told story about strength and an enduring faith that can lead but one place: to forgiveness.”
• “This is a gripping account not just of horrific betrayal but also of heroic recovery.” –David Clohessy, Director of SNAP, named People Magazine's 25 "Most Intriguing People" 2003
•“The Unbreakable Child is not so much a tragic tale as it is a testament to the resilience of human nature and the fighting spirit residing somewhere in each of us. In recounting her childhood abuse at the hands of those we most revere and put our trust in, Kim encourages victims everywhere to stand up to the bullies and bully pulpits that dictate to us and misuse positions of authority. The Unbreakable Child is more than a wakeup call for the Catholic Church and child care institutions; it's a rally cry for the rest of us to hold our religious, legal and political authorities accountable." --Greg Barrett, Veteran Journalist and Author of The Gospel of Father Joe
•“The Unbreakable Child is the most powerful story I've read in a long time. You'll feel her pain and her triumph, and be reminded that the human spirit is resilient beyond all reason. This book will change you” --Jenna Glatzer, Award-winning writer and Author
CONTACT INFORMATION: Author Kim Michele Richardson available for interviews.
Author Kim Michele Richardson
Agent: Eileen Cope, Trident Media
Kunati Publisher Derek Armstrong
About Kim Michele
Causes Kim Michele Richardson Supports
Family and Children First