IL--End the silence
Statement by Eric Johnson, victim of Fr. Bruce Wellems
Silence should never be a choice when it comes to any case of sexual abuse. Turning your back and doing nothing only allows the predator to gain skill in his craft, while allowing the cycle to continue.
For the past 20+ years, I have tried to inform people about Wellems, only to be met with walls of silence, denial, and lies. His attitude of “that was the culture back then” and his excuse of “behavior I exhibited as a teenager was taught behavior” is reprehensible.
At no time in a civilized culture has raping a child been acceptable. His self-prescribed penance of setting himself up to work with troubled youth is even more disturbing. He was a skilled predator at 15, presenting himself as a normal youth with a girlfriend, while repeatedly committing horrendous crimes behind his façade. I can only cringe at the thought of him being placed in his environment of choice, with young boys.
Up to 2014, Wellems has led his peers and superiors to believe that this was a consensual relationship between teenagers.
A 15-year-old having sex with a 7-year-old is a crime, and was a crime in the 70s, and yes, a sin. His partial admittance of abuse, lined with fabricated timelines, locations, and minimized contact, is shameful. His claim of being abused is quite timely and suspicious, given the fact that it was never mentioned to another reporter before Manya.
Lastly, Wellems continues to shamelessly talk about himself and the repercussions, which speaks volumes. Wellems says "As much as I hate going through this, maybe it's good"
There is nothing good about a 15-year-old having sex with a 7-year-old boy. A 15-year-old knows that molesting a 7-year-old is wrong. Close your eyes. Picture it.
Wellems should be held accountable.
Not once has he ever apologized to me, or my parents. Now it is too late, my Mom is gone.
I want to thank my dear mother for doing the best she could as a single mom. She had no reason to carry this guilt on her shoulders most of her life. She passed in 2013, and I wish she were here to witness this event. However, now she can rest in peace.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.