The director of a victim rights group is calling on a group of nuns to cancel a choir performance directed by a man who’s accused of sexually abusing a high school student in the 1990s. Steve Thiesen of Hudson is the Iowa director of SNAP – the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. He’s upset that the concert, scheduled for this Sunday afternoon near Dubuque, is set to be directed by Bradley Barrett. A Springfield, Missouri man claimed last year that Barrett repeatedly abused him between 1992 and ’95 when Barrett was teaching at a school near Springfield.
Thiesen says he’s shocked the Dominican nuns are allowing the concert to happen while Barrett is facing a civil lawsuit. “You end up giving these accused abusers some respectability and they use that to gain the trust of parents which in turn gets them at the children. We don’t understand why they’re taking a risk with this,” Thiesen told Radio Iowa. “I would not invite him until this thing is settled.”
Barrett was working at the University of Northern Iowa before being placed on paid leave and later fired last December. He’s now director of the Cedar Rapids based Chorale Midwest choir. “The man has a right to earn a living…so does a school bus operator, but if that school bus operator has two or three OWIs, why risk him driving a school bus with children?” Thiesen said.
The concert on Sunday is set to take place at a Catholic retreat center, about 5 miles from Dubuque, in southwest Wisconsin. Barrett and the 60-member Chorale Midwest choir are also scheduled to perform next Tuesday at the Iowa State Choral Directors Association meeting in Mason City. Thiesen sent a letter to that organization as well.
A lawyer representing Barrett told the Wisconsin Journal that the accusation is “so far, unfounded and hardly a basis to deny a person his full rights and freedoms.”