“In honor of David Samarzia, a Male Survivor of Clergy Sexual Abuse, for his courage and perseverance, his commitment to protect children, his ability to speak out so eloquently. He has helped many survivors break through their silence.”


 After his story hit the media, David undertook a “listening class” from Health Realizations and forty hours of training through the Minnesota Department of Corrections Approved Crisis Counseling program. He wanted to learn how to listen to the hundreds of men and women who were contacting him on his personal phone from all over the U.S. and as far as England and Australia. Some were despondent and contemplating suicide before speaking with him. Most said that he was the first person they’d ever told — they felt he wouldn’t judge or not believe them. Along with personnel from PAVSA (Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault ), he would drive anywhere in the Duluth area to meet with callers at their choice of location, such as coffee shop, library, etc.

He volunteered with MEN AS PEACEMAKERS, where he received a commendation for mentoring a child with home and school difficulties; STOP IT NOW; CHILDHELP; and CASDA (Center Against Sexual and Domestic Violence). The non-profit PREVENT CHILD ABUSE MN offered grateful appreciation to David for his “dedication and commitment to the mission of Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota and Circle of Parents as a supportive and generous volunteer.”

He gave countless unpaid hours to the FIRST WITNESS ADVOCACY CENTER, which had begun a few years before as a safe, child-friendly place for young victims of sexual and physical abuse to tell their stories. (Prior to First Witness, children were often interviewed 3-4 times throughout the investigation, adding to their trauma.) David used his background in business to help the organization define its vision and mission.

Through PAVSA, he helped a teenage boy (and his distraught mother) in another town who was going through his own sex-abuse suit against a different minister. On his own dime, David flew to California to support two young men abused by a priest. His home in Duluth MN was designated a McGRUFF SAFE HOUSE FOR KIDS — a safe refuge for any child who felt he or she might be in danger.  Before being accepted into this program, a volunteer submits an application form that includes permission for a background check by law enforcement and participates in a training orientation. Civic-minded, David volunteered to teach a class through SOAR (a Social Security advocacy service) where he talked about record-keeping and accounting/tax issues to women starting their own businesses. He was one of the first businessmen in Minnesota to sign up for Adopt-A-Highway.  


“David went through hell trying to do the right thing. Church members shunned and insulted him, and accused him of money-grubbing — it was clear that money was the farthest thing from his mind. The church lawyers were savage. It was really shocking to see what should have been ministry to a deeply suffering person turned into innuendo, ugly accusations, and mockery. During the months in the period leading up to the trial, David had begun coming out of his shell, but the wrath in the small community drove him back in. He was awarded the church in the lawsuit, but he gave it back. People still kept saying he was just looking for money.”     
         Susan Stanich, award-winning reporter for The Duluth News Tribune



The contents of this website (not including links to other sites which are the responsibility of those site owners) are based on the opinions of David Samarzia, and presented with the understanding that he does not intend to render any type of medical, psychological, legal, or any other kind of professional advice.

PAVSA -- Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault is a nonprofit rape crisis center in southern St. Louis County MN that helps area residents cope with the aftermath of sexual violence. Services include options for people who have been victimized, ranging from immediate crisis intervention to long-term counseling.

Men As PeacemakersAt the forefront of a movement to promote equality and end violence against women and children, by building safe communities through programs in Minnesota and beyond that address the root causes of violence.

Stop It Now!An affiliate of Klingberg Family Centers, its mission is to extend hope and healing to children and families whose lives have been traumatized by abuse and/or neglect in its various forms, severe family problems, and mental health issues.

ChildHelpGoal is to meet the physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs of abused, neglected and at-risk children, with efforts on prevention, intervention, treatment, and community outreach. 

Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse (CASDA) To provide supportive services to individuals hurt by domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse while advocating for a community effort to end violence. The main office is located in Superior, WI, and an outreach office is based in Washburn, WI.

Prevent Child Abuse MN and MN Circle of ParentsPromotes individual and community-led action to end child abuse and to build the resilience of children, parents, and community members throughout Minnesota.

First Witness Child Advocacy CenterProvides one forensically-sound, video-recorded interview in a safe, comfortable space for children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults who have reported sexual or physical abuse, or witnessed violence—to prevent the re-victimization that occurs when multiple interviews are taken.  

McGruff Safe KidsNamed after the National Crime Prevention Center’s mascot, McGruff the Crime Dog, a resource for children who find themselves in frightening situations like being followed, hurt, or bullied; works in conjunction with  the Neighborhood Watch program.

First Witness Child Advocacy Center:
“David has had a tremendous positive impact on the hundreds of children and families First Witness has worked with... David had to interface with a variety of organizations, both nationally and locally, as well as with our constituents. He did a superb job in this role, and served the children and families we work with, with dignity and respect.”

Prevent Child Abuse MN:
"[To] David Samarzia, in grateful appreciation for your dedication and commitment to the mission of Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota and Circle of Parents as a supportive and generous volunteer.”
An accountant by trade, David would love to spend his free hours by a lake — especially a lake in Northern Minnesota — with his Siberian Husky, Nakita.
The phrase “dogged perseverance” defines the life of David Samarzia.

Dogged perseverance, first of all, in developing coping skills during youth and adulthood to deal with the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse by his Protestant pastor. Second, in establishing and running a thriving business despite overwhelming fears and debilitating panic attacks. Third, in stepping forward to protect kids when it became clear that church leaders weren’t going to do it. And fourth, in refusing to give up even when persecuted by those who wanted him to keep silent.

Again, dogged perseverance while being fought by one of the largest Christian denominations,  which right at the start shattered his legal right to anonymity. The church seemed to have all the money in the world to keep filing appeal after appeal. That only made him dig in further: he wouldn't give up, no matter what. Too much was at stake. Not only did he hope to keep children out of harm’s way, but he knew he had to speak out for others molested by the same minister — those boys who'd been silenced by suicide.

He demonstrated the same perseverance in volunteering  with anti-abuse organizations, including Prevent Child Abuse MN, PAVSA, First Witness, Men as Peacemakers, CASDA, and others. [see below]  He collaborated with the local FBI office in its investigation of known pedophiles residing in the area. The Duluth police sex-crimes unit applauded him for persevering through more than 7 years of legal battles, fought by a church that chose to defend a self-confessed, serial child molester and go after a victim instead.  When everything  was finally over, he was discouraged, exhausted, and broke. Yet with dogged perseverance, he forged ahead with his plan to write his story — so others might be helped by what he learned.  


First Witness

David Samarzia

Advocate, Author, Listener ~ Volunteer


Prevent Child Abuse MN ~ Circle of Parents
First in a series of memoirs
by David Samarzia


Everything to Lose