It's not just a story
Let's sweep it all under the rug
The Foley case: I've seen this before... personally - ADDENDUM Hotlist
by Bob Johnson [Subscribe]
Sun Oct 01, 2006 at 10:48:06 PM PDT
The patterns in these cases are always the same.
An adult in a position of authority puts himself/herself in a position to satisfy some perverse desires with a minor.
So one night while on a ski trip led by a Catholic priest from my parish, I awoke to find the priest unzipping the shorts I had worn to bed. Now, I was old enough to take care of myself, and I quickly realized what was happening. So when I said, "What are you doing?" he quickly moved to the thermostat on the wall and said, "Just adjusting the temperature."
Naturally, I was freaked out. I had my skis and poles standing in the corner next to my bed and I grabbed one of the poles and laid it next to me, figuring that if this bastard came near me again, I'd run him through with the ski pole.
But I didn't know what else to do. Who would take my word over a priest's? So I just lay there for the rest of the night, wide awake, my heart pounding, thinking to myself that I'd like nothing better than to kill this son of a bitch.
The next day, we drove home and I said nothing. But as soon as I got back to my house, I told my mom and dad what had happened. My dad said, "You should have called me! I would have driven up and brought you home!" But I said that I was confident I could have dealt with this guy if he had tried something again. (In fact, I was secretly hoping he would try something else so I would have an excuse to beat the living crap out of him.)
My parents weren't sure what to do, either. But they called a few friends from the parish and relayed the story. They ended up telling everyone they knew who had boys in the parish what had happened. But they decided against telling the pastor. I'm not sure why, but that's what happened.
And that's where it was left for many years. But it left me with a burning seething anger at the priest and at the Church. Because I knew I wasn't the only kid this scumbag had tried to abuse.
One day shortly after I got out of college, I was having lunch with a friend who is a priest (a good priest and a true holy man), and I told him the story. He was not surprised and confided in me that the priest in question had at least three complaints filed against him in the diocese' office.
Nothing more came of our conversation, but a few years later, my friend the priest called and told me that the local diocese was finally starting to look into these cases, and that it might do me good to meet with the priest who was reviewing these cases, in confidence, and tell my story.
Naturally, I was skeptical. Having a priest looking into misconduct by priests? My friend urged me to go as the investigating priest had set up his operation in a building not far from my office. As a favor to my friend, I called the investigating priest and made an appointment for the next day.
The diocese had set up the investigating priest in a dank, old office on the third floor of a walk-up. I climbed the stairs and arrived at my appointed time and sat down across from the priest. He was a tall, older gentleman, grey-haired with glasses, dressed in his collar. After taking down some preliminary information he asked me to describe what happened. After I got through the story with him furiously taking notes, he paused and asked, "Had he been drinking?"
I said, "What?"
He repeated, "Had he been drinking at dinner or at anytime before bed?"
And I said, "What does THAT have to do with anything?"
He replied, "Well, sometimes alcohol can have an effect on a person and--"
I cut him off. "What the hell are you talking about? I like girls. If I have a few drinks, I can't go up to a woman and grab her vagina, can I? I'd go to jail for that!"
This fool had no clue... just as I suspected he wouldn't.
I was in full fury by this point. I said, "I'm done here. You're really playing with fire. I'm mentally stable, but you're going to ask an asinine question like that of some person who is having trouble dealing with these issues and you might drive someone to commit suicide or something. I'm sure you're a nice guy, but you're out of your league."
And I left. I was so mad I could barely see. By the time I got back to my office, I was shaking. I called my friend the priest and related what happened and shouted and cursed and told him that the Church was really playing with fire.
He listened in silence to my ranting. And when I had finished, he said I should write it all down and send it to the Cardinal. The Cardinal was developing new policies on how to deal with abusive priests and he needed to hear what I had to say.
So I wrote it down. I included the pertinent facts of my own case, a description of my encounter with the investigating priest, and my contention that ALL of these cases need to be turned over to police and prosecutors immediately. I also added my incredulity that the guy in my case, with at least four cases in his file, was still administering the sacraments -- still hearing confessions, still saying Mass, still giving out communion, still baptizing babies and anointing the dying -- and it made me physically sick.
About two weeks later, I received a letter from the Cardinal requesting that I call his office and schedule a meeting with him. He also wrote that forgiveness is an important part of coming to grips with these issues.
I got mad all over again. I wrote him a return letter and said I would call and make an appointment, but that I was troubled by his comments on forgiveness.
Forgiveness, if it is to come, follows justice. Without justice first, there can be no forgiveness.
I'll shorten the remainder of this sordid story in the interest of time, but suffice it to say that I met with the Cardinal twice. I found him to be a serious and thoughtful man, but still unable to truly come to grips with the problem. I told him his draft proposal for dealing with abusive priests was inadequate and that the measures he was putting in place to help victims were sadly lacking.
Nevertheless, he instituted his policies to much praise from the press for his "courageous stand."
I was disappointed... again.
Three years later, just when all of the big news in Boston was breaking about Cardinal Law protecting abusive priests, my friend the priest called and told me that THIS time, our local diocese was REALLY going to dig into this issue. And then he told me that another priest who was a friend of his was handling the investigations and that this priest was--
I stopped him right there. No way. Not again.
The news out of Boston and around the rest of the country had boiled all my resentments back to the surface. I felt the fury and the rage all over again. But this time, I decided to take a different route.
I contacted an organization that helps people who have been abused by priests, but after leaving three messages and having no one call me back, I figured it was time to do it myself.
So I tracked down the priest who had abused me -- the guy with at least four cases in his files -- and found out he was working as a hospital chaplain in the city. And then I contacted a reporter at our major newspaper who had been working stories on this issue and told him that I had a story to tell that included correspondence and meetings with the Cardinal. The reporter was thrilled.
The reporter came to my office and interviewed me for nearly two hours. I gave him the name of the priest, the dates, the correspondence from the Cardinal, the draft copy of the Cardinal's policy on abusive priests containing my handwritten notes and more.
The next day, the reporter called me and told me the priest was working at a different hospital in the city now.
I sent an e-mail to the CEO of the corporation that owned the hospital (a religious organization, no less) asking him if he was aware that a priest who was a chaplain on the staff at one of his hospitals had at least four documented cases of sexual abuse in his file at the diocese.
I didn't receive a response. But the reporter called me and told me the priest had been fired the next day.
My story appeared in the paper. The priest I outed resigned from the priesthood within a week.
I felt a certain satisfaction. The Church was never going to offer justice. Never. But I created my own justice. And now this defrocked priest would be out in the real world. The world where child molesters who get caught and convicted end up having a very sad and dangerous life in prison.
So I have very strong, personal feelings in this Foley case. I've read comments here about whether or not Foley is a pedophile by definition. I've read comments that the boys who are victims in these cases are old enough and emotionally stable enough to deal with the fallout from their interactions with Foley.
But I can tell you one thing. The anger, the fury, the rage does NOT go away until justice is done. And that is justice NOT ONLY for the perpetrator, but for those who aided and abetted the perpetrator by protecting the scumbag.
I have no empathy for Foley. No pity. And I have nothing but contempt for those who protected him. Because I know what it is like to be a victim of one of these criminals. I know the anger, the fury, the seething, burning rage. I know what it's like to be screaming as loud as one can -- without anyone hearing.
I learned about those who prey on the young in my nearly 20-year ordeal. These creeps don't perform these acts in isolation. If there is one victim, there are likely ten victims. If they have written scurrilous e-mails or IM communications -- and they have had contact with their targets -- there are likely instances of physical abuse.
I know that will be the next revelation in the Foley case. Because I know he physically molested boys he was near.
But it's those who protected him who deserve even greater punishment. The Church received her punishment where it hurt the Church the most -- in the pocketbook. And it is continuing to suffer.
I hope those who protected Foley suffer legally, financially and in every other way possible. They are evil people.
I've seen this all before. And I haven't been back to Church since high school.
I finally got my justice. Some may call it revenge. I don't. It was justice and I had to do it myself. And believe me, it felt good.
Update [2006-10-2 10:42:54 by Bob Johnson]:
A friend who has seen this sent me an e-mail this morning, and I responded with something that I think is pertinent and important. I wrote to my friend:
Anyway, some of the discussion on dkos on this matter seemed to be missing the point that the victims are the ones to worry about. And they need justice. Even if these guys seem fine with this stuff now, I know they will be angry as they get older, particularly if Foley skates and his enablers remain untouched.
It's all about the justice and the guilty ones facing consequences for their actions. That goes for the perpetrator and those who covered for him.
posted by Steve @ 10:42:00 AM