Barbara Blaine, founder of abuse victims group SNAP, dies

In this March 29, 2011, file photo, Barbara Blaine, President of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), displays childhood photographs of adults who say they were sexually abused, during a news conference in Philadelphia. Barbara Blaine, the founder and former president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has died. The organization known as SNAP announced on its Facebook page that Blaine died Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, following a recent cardiac event. She was 61. (AP Photo/Matt In this March 29, 2011, file photo, Barbara Blaine, President of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), displays childhood photographs of adults who say they were sexually abused, during a news conference in Philadelphia. Barbara Blaine, the founder and former president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has died. The organization known as SNAP announced on its Facebook page that Blaine died Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, following a recent cardiac event. She was 61. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — Barbara Blaine, the founder and former president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has died. She was 61.

The organization known as SNAP announced on its Facebook page that Blaine died Sunday following a recent cardiac event.

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In a statement, SNAP managing director Barbara Dorris praised Blaine's work with victims of clergy sexual abuse.

"Few people have done more to protect kids and help victims than Barbara Blaine," Dorris said. "Her contributions to a safer society would be hard to overstate."

Blaine founded SNAP in 1988, years after she was abused as an 8th grader by a Toledo, Ohio, priest who taught at the Catholic school she attended, according to the organization's website. Her pleas for help to Toledo's bishop were ignored. The first SNAP meeting of victims was held at a Chicago hotel.

The group gained prominence in 2002 after the Boston Globe's stories on the priest sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church.

SNAP now has more than 20,000 members and support groups meet in over 60 cities across the U.S. and the world.

Blaine resigned in February. She did not give a reason, but Blaine and other SNAP officials were sued in January by a former employee who said she was fired after asking superiors whether the organization was referring potential clients to attorneys in return for donations.

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