man tells of long-ago abuse by priest
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette Staff
WORCESTER-- Bryan Smith says he would not have gotten through
the last few years without the support of friends, family
and members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
as he came to terms with sexual abuse by a former headmaster
at Holy Name High School.
The Rev. Donald J. Rebokus, who died during the 1980s, subjected
Mr. Smith on several occasions during the mid-1970s to sexual
abuse sessions that involved a toy slot machine, wrestling
and super hot showers in his apartment at the school, Mr.
Smith said in an interview.
Rev. Rebokus, who served in several area parishes, was also
a chaplain for the Massachusetts State Police and gave the
eulogy at the funeral of Trooper George L. Hanna, who was
shot to death in 1983. Rev. Rebokus died of illness a few
Mr. Smith, of Hubbardston, said his devout parents, who lived
in Auburn at the time, wanted him to have a Catholic education,
so he was enrolled at Holy Name in 1975. â€Sex
was something never discussed in my family and I was pretty
naive," Mr. Smith said. He believes his innocence of
sexual matters may have set him up to be a victim.
Father Rebokus would invite me to his apartment to do some
odd jobs,"he said. The priest had a toy slot machine
and would tell Mr. Smith to insert some quarters. â€And
then he would want to wrestle," Mr. Smith said.
After wrestling, Rev. Rebokus would claim to have a bad back
and need the youth's help. â€He'd get into
the shower and have me rub him with this brush really hard.
The water was so hot I was surprised his skin didn't come
off," he said. Mr. Smith was then told to start rubbing
his body with creams. The massaging then led to requests that
Mr. Smith masturbate him. Mr. Smith said he was not raped
but was subjected to masturbation by the priest.
It wasn't anything I chose to do. I was forced into it,"
he said. "I was just confused. I was a young kid and
didn't know what to do."
He had been taught never to question the actions of a priest,
he said. "And besides, even if you did question him,
who was going to believe you?"he said.
I felt very uncomfortable about all this. But like I said,
I was pretty naive and I was pretty embarrassed about what
was happening,"he said.
There were about a dozen sessions like this, he said, and
then Rev. Rebokus moved out of the school to St. Mary's parish
Rev. Rebokus took the toy slot machine with him to Uxbridge,
he said. â€It was like it was used to hypnotize
me," he said.
The abuse ended during his junior year at Holy Name after
a wrestling match. "I had gotten bigger and I overcame
him in that match. I saw the fear in his eyes," he said.
Mr. Smith told him at that point the abuse had to stop and
it did, he said.
According to Rev. Rebokus' obituary, he was assigned to Sacred
Heart parish, Gardner, from 1957 to 1961 and served at St.
Leo's in Leominster from 1961 to 1969. He was assigned to
the former St. Stephen's High School from 1969 to 1971, when
he was transferred to Holy Name, where he served until 1976.
He was assigned to St. Luke the Evangelist parish, Westboro,
from 1976 to 1977 and then went to St. Louis in Webster, before
going to St. Mary's in Uxbridge in 1978.
Mr. Smith has emerged as the leader of a new chapter of SNAP
that has organized in Fitchburg, drawing in victims from around
He is not pursuing legal action, but filed a report several
months ago with Trooper Thomas R. Ryan of the Massachusetts
State Police, he said. "I want it known what happened
to me because I think there are other victims out there. I
know of at least one other but he is not ready to go public,"
As far as I'm concerned, the church is a criminal enterprise.
I'm just surprised that the district attorney hasn't done
more to investigate the diocese," he said.
Plans are under way to hold a meeting in Worcester before
the end of this month, Mr. Smith said. David A. Lewcon of
Webster, an alleged victim of the Rev. Thomas A. Teczar, helped
launch Mr. Smith's group and is now looking to start a SNAP
chapter in the Springfield area.
There are still a lot of victims from this area out there,"
Mr. Smith said. "The people at SNAP were always there
when I needed help and support. It's my turn to help out and
try to give that support to others."
Since the first meeting two weeks ago at the Fitchburg Public
Library, which drew about 25 people, Mr. Smith has gotten
three or four e-mails a day from people seeking help with
past abuse by priests, he said. He also gets telephone calls.
â€It's pretty hectic right now but that shows
that people out there are looking for help," he said.
Mr. Smith said he got help from people within SNAP when
he was having a difficult time. â€I have
a lot of anger, but I'd rather use that energy to help someone
else,â€ he said.
Raymond L. Delisle, spokesman for the diocese, said he could
not comment on alleged abuse by Rev. Rebokus because it happened
so long ago and the priest has since died.
In cases where priests have died, the diocese stands ready
to offer counseling and support to any of the victims who
come forward,' he said yesterday.
The new Office for Healing and Prevention for the diocese
is prepared to offer services to any alleged victims, he said.