Bill’s unique career combines government, communications, electoral and public policy expertise. At age 25 he was elected to the Pennsylvania State Legislature and prior to that was the director of finance for the Pennsylvania Youth Advocate Program. A one-time candidate for the US Congress, Bill has spent most of his career as a political media consultant. He has taught university level classes at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at San Diego. He sits on the board of the Youth Advocate Program, Inc. and has been speaking out on legislative remedies to the crisis of child sexual abuse since his public announcement in the fall of 2018 that he too is a survivor of child sexual abuse. A founding member of Pennsylvanian’s United to Protect Children, Bill brings experience and an unwavering commitment to the fight for justice.
-Be You Bravely-
Mary McHale grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania in Irish Catholic family. Mary was the youngest of four in her family, including having a twin sister. She graduated from Reading Central Catholic High School and Alvernia University. Mary earned a degree as a Physical Therapist Assistant, specializing in wound care and out-patient physical therapy.
During her senior year in high school, she began to struggle with the Catholic culture and her sexual orientation. Mary confessed her inner conflict to a trusting servant of God, her religion teacher who was also a priest. That same priest became her abuser. The abuse ended when Mary went to college.
Never quite fitting into her skin, Mary used alcohol to numb and escape her reality. In 2004, Mary found recovery. It was around that time that Mary picked up the local newspaper and saw that her abuser had offended again. She realized then, that she was not the only one and vowed to do whatever she could to help this woman.
It was then that her journey shifted from victim to survivor. Mary has spent over a decade going to Harrisburg and anywhere else in the state sharing her story, gathering strength, and inspiring courage. In 2016, Mary testified in the 40th Grand Jury of Pennsylvania. Mary is a proud founding member of Pennsylvanians United to Protect Children, a group of survivors working for reform.
If you don’t find Mary actively in the fight, she is probably at home with her furry kids, Brodey and Greyson, and her loving supportive spouse, Sue.
Mike was abused by two priests at his childhood parish in Norristown, Pa. between the ages of 11-13. Both of Michael’s perpetrators were abusers known to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which allowed them to utilize their position in the Archdiocese to prey on multiple children. Michael’s attempt to heal and recover from the abuse he suffered was delayed because of the Archdiocese’s decades of covering up and facilitating abuse. If the Archdiocese moved to stop his predators in 1981, Michael would have known he was not the only victim. He would have had an opportunity to receive treatment as a young teen, instead of living in a world of shame, secrets, behavioral health challenges and addiction issues. Had the Archdiocese shown concern for the sheep of the flock instead of protecting the abusive shepherd, twenty-four years of Michael’s life would have been very different. An advocate since 2011 for fellow survivors and an active force for change in statute of limitations reform, Mike continues his work as an Intake Specialist at a drug and alcohol treatment facility full time. He has been covered by a multitude of media outlets nationally and internationally. His joys are in his home with wife Debra, also an advocate for survivors and victim herself and their son Sean.
Shaun Dougherty was raised the 8th of 9 children in an Irish Catholic family in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He was sexually abused from ages 10 to 13 by his local parish priest, the same priest who taught him religion and was his basketball coach.
Upon high school graduation he moved to Texas to pursue a career in the food and hospitality industry. Looking to advance his skills he returned to Western Pennsylvania to further his education at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh. Upon completion of his culinary education he enlisted in the US Navy where he served as a Deck Seaman on the submarine tender, USS Frank Cable. In addition to serving his country, the Navy helped pay for his schooling.
Completing his Naval enlistment he worked as a chef at numerous restaurants. Beginning in his hometown of Johnstown at his family’s tavern before moving on to Annapolis and New York City.
Eventually his pursuit to broaden his culinary skills and business experience led him to positions as a chef and business owner in the US Virgin Islands and Napa Valley, California. Culminating with his own highly acclaimed restaurant in New York City.
Unfortunately in 2012 his past as an abuse survivor resurfaced when the Priest who abused him was featured in a story on the front page of his hometown newspaper. He felt that he no longer could keep silent so he approached a childhood friend that he believed to be abused as well and they went to the district attorney office and filed an abuse report.
Shaun’s case along with a few others from Cambria County were forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Attorney General, and in 2016 the 37th PA Statewide Grand Jury investigation report was released, which revealed ramped child sexual abuse, and the systemic cover up by the Altoona Johnstown Diocese. Shaun became a vocal and effective advocate for all victims of sexual violence and has been fighting for Statutes of Limitations (SOL) reforms in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of New York. He has been featured on several national, and international news programs. Shaun resides in Johnstown, PA with his wife D’Arcy.
Jimmy grew up in Shanksville, PA, just one mile from where United 93 crashed on September 11, 2001.
In 2011, one of Jimmy’s sisters confided in him that she had been sexually abused when she was a young child by their father, a former minister of 27 years. Jimmy, also a pastor, reported his father to authorities which ultimately resulted in his confession of 23 victims and a conviction of 30-60 years in Pennsylvania state corrections facility.
Because of Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations, a criminal investigation was not allowed to proceed. Had young victims not quickly been discovered, Jimmy’s father would be free today even though the abuse was reported immediately by Jimmy and his mother. Jimmy is dedicated to seeing Pennsylvania open up a window so that the many survivors who know their abusers have access to children can seek justice.
Besides being a full time pastor, Jimmy researches deception techniques of child molesters and specializes in abuse in plain sight. He is a certification specialist with G.R.A.C.E (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) and serves on the board of Porchswing Ministries.
Jimmy loves to spend time with his family and trudges around in the snow barefoot...for fun!
Claire L. Rennie
Claire is the eldest of 3 children raised in a Catholic family from Lebanon, Pennsylvania. She attended St. Mary’s Catholic School and graduated from the Lebanon Catholic High School. Claire has worked in human services with special needs children for the majority of her career. She began her advocacy regarding children at the former Lebanon County Life Support Facility in Lebanon, PA. She then moved on to the Bethany Children’s Home in Womeldorf, PA and then to a foster care agency for medically disable children in Northern Berks County, PA. Claire has been married to her “best friend” Andy for over thirty-three years. They have three children, seven grandchildren, and two dogs. Once her children were grown and began having their own children, Claire decided to stop working and stay home to care for her grandchildren. This was Claire’s way of making sure her grandchildren were safe and being taken care of by someone that would ALWAYS look out for their best interests while her children worked or went to school. It also saved her children money with increasing daycare expenses.
Just before Christmas-2017, Claire & her husband traveled back to his hometown in Cresson, PA. (Cambria County). While visiting friends, Claire found out by shear happenstance that her husband Andy, who was raised in a devout Catholic family and attended Catholic grade school and high school in the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese, was the victim of childhood sexual abuse by two diocesan priests. Although this news answered many questions for Claire regarding her husband, it was the beginning of an absolute nightmare for her. Her attention was then directed solely at her husband and his ongoing recovery. Since then, Claire has been a staunch supporter of SNAP and all victims / families. She has spent countless hours on the phone, on the internet and attending meetings / public events in support of victims & families. Through research and support of other members of SNAP and survivors, Claire was able to successfully find and identify the remaining Catholic Priest that had abused her husband from the age of seven to nine. Claire has spent hundreds of hours talking with the families of other survivors in the hopes of assisting them through the recovery process. Claire has recently decided that her work with those suffering with mental illness would be best. She will be studying to become a Peer Support Counselor while continuing to be an avid supporter of those Pennsylvanian’s that have been abused and continue to be abused. Claire resides in Lancaster County, PA with her husband.
Heather grew up in a large, extended Irish Catholic family, the eldest of two children, and attended St. Boniface and Holy Savior grade schools in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Heather is a graduate of Marywood University in Scranton with a B.A. in Graphic Design and an M.A. in Studio Art. She has over six years experience working in children’s mental health in the home, school and community settings and has spent an additional three years teaching toddlers on the autism spectrum in an Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention setting. She is currently job coaching high school students and adults with disabilities and owns an art studio with her husband where they create art and teach classes for children and adults.
In May of 2017, Heather binge-watched a documentary series on Netflix called The Keepers, about the murder of a nun in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1969, and the diabolical rape, molestation and trafficking of children by a network of clergy, politicians, law enforcement and community members. After many sleepless nights, unable to stop thinking about the trauma the victims and survivors of that story endured, she filled out a volunteer form on the official site for the series, listing work experience, educational background and skill set. When contacted, instead of being asked to pack up her supplies and drive to Baltimore to work with survivors through the arts, she was asked to be a part of a highly confidential research team working directly on the case. She dove right in and her life changed forever.
Heather’s main work on the team was interviewing individuals directly related to the case in the Archdiocese of Baltimore area, with intense focus on survivors and their stories.
After hundreds of hours of listening to horrific stories of the rape, molestation, trafficking and mental and emotional abuse of children from the mouths of those who endured it, her work in this area has grown to include fighting for Statutes of Limitations reform with a Window alongside the brave Pennsylvania and Maryland warrior survivors and advocates she now calls beloved friends.
Heather is dedicated to serving the survivors and victims who brought her to this story by continuing the fight for answers, closure and justice.
Her highest priority is supporting legislation that will unearth the hidden predators in our communities - predators who are currently unchecked, unsupervised, and uncharged. Heather resides in NEPA with her husband, Spencer.
In her spare time, Heather dreams up creative new ways to take down the bad guys. She never sleeps.