“I Lost Faith in God…But I’m Now Pursuing Faith in Justice”
By Ilgin Yorulmaz, Contributor
Inspired by his oath of honesty when enlisting in the Navy, 21-year-old recruit Shaun Dougherty decided to be truthful about what had happened to him as a child. He finally opened up to his parents on his first Christmas break from the boot camp in 1991.
Dougherty told them about the three-year long sexual abuse he had endured in 1980 starting at age 10 as a fifth-grader at St. Clement School in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. His abuser was George Koharchik ― a longtime Catholic priest, pastor at St. Clement Church, and Dougherty’s basketball coach and religion teacher. His parents, who had attended the Mass conducted by Koharchik for many years at the same church where young Shaun was an altar boy, did not believe him.
Twenty-six years later, the 47-year-old married Navy veteran was in Albany last week, lobbying the New York State Assembly as part of the Coalition to Pass the Child Victims Act. The coalition includes a dozen survivors, faith leaders, and people who were victims or witnesses of sexual abuse as children, or who knew a loved one, friend or congregant who had gone through years of abuse.