A pastor in whom the wife of convicted murderer Drew Peterson once confided laid out plans last week for a program to help victims of domestic abuse.
Speaking at Will County's annual Take Back the Night event in Joliet, the Rev. Neil Schori said the program would involve child care facilities, landlords, local colleges, volunteer drivers and lawyers. He said he is working with Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow to create the program.
Schori, 38, was a key witness in Drew Peterson's murder trial. He testified about a conversation he and Stacy Peterson had in which she told him she provided a false alibi for her husband on the weekend his third wife, Kathleen Savio, drowned. Drew Peterson, a former police sergeant in Bolingbrook, later was convicted of Savio's murder.
Stacy Peterson, his fourth wife, has been missing since October 2007. Peterson is considered a key suspect in her disappearance.
Schori called on hundreds of people at a gathering Thursday to help victims of domestic violence and said he is committed to doing his part.
"I know today that a huge part of my calling is to be a beacon of hope to women who have lost hope," Schori said.
Part of the program involves getting various agencies to donate their services. Child care agencies, for example, could keep one free spot open for a child of an abuse victim. Landlords could keep open an apartment or rental unit for a period of time to offer abuse victims free or discounted rent until permanent housing could be secured.
Volunteers would offer transportation to women so they could get to and from appointments or court. Local colleges could offer scholarships to battered women and counselors could offer free counseling, Schori said.
Such a program would help a woman leave her abuser and get a new start, he said.
"If we come together and say enough is enough, we are going to be the change that we desire to see," Schori said. "A generation could be changed."
Glasgow said he and Schori have been meeting with others to make the program a reality.
"We're trying to unify resources in Will County for transportation, day care, housing for battered women who want to make a change," Glasgow said. "I think we have a tremendous shot at getting this done in the next year."
Schori encouraged everyone at the event to get involved.
"Let's not just talk about it, let's be about it," he said.