2007 STORY #16 – INTERGENERATIONAL PRIEST ABUSE
This is story about how two mothers and their children were sexually abused by priests and how justice was served.
In late 2002, I went to Mendham, NJ to my first SNAP meeting and reported my abuse by a priest, Father X of N.J. when I was 16 and 17 (more emotionally age 10). My mother is one of the women who can be considered a "vulnerable woman" whom priests sexually abused as adults. She had a mental illness when Father X had sex with her. She was 38 and 39 when she brought me to the priest's country home because she firmly thought he wouldn't want her unless I came. He had a history of taking teenage girls to his country place, and mother learned about this. Mother was an insecure person, in a bad marriage and separated from her husband early on during my two years of abuse. Father X knew my family and my parent's marriage were in great distress.
Mother was wrong to take me there, but after spending time with her very recently, after years of no contact, I saw more clearly how she has mental problems. Recently, she wanted to do me a favor: she signed a statement saying that she saw the priest abuse me. Now it is no longer my word against his! This gives me great satisfaction and more healing. Mother is 85 and her health is failing. Father X is 91 and living on his 40 plus acres of land in Andover, NJ.
Yes, there is another story of intergenerational abuse. In the Mendham SNAP group, I met a man, Ray, whose mother, Barbara, was abused by a priest when she was 17. This priest is Father X, and he abused Barbara many years earlier than he abused me. Barbara has died. After I told my story in the SNAP group, and while going through a church investigation in 2002 and 2003, I made sure I got many stories put in the newspapers. An ailing priest read the stories and reported to Msgr. Ken Lasch, my hero and advocate through the investigation, that he had been bribed by Father X with a large sum of money to keep quiet about a sexual relationship Father X had with a much younger nun.
There is more: another priest came forward about Father X. Ray's mother was not able to report Father X many years ago. Neither was I. By a strange twist of fate, Father Y, the infamous priest who admitted to abusing many boys, reported that Father X had abused Barbara! Father Y was trying to do the right thing. He had been testifying on behalf of the boys who were suing the Paterson, NJ Diocese because of Father Y's abuse and church protecting him. During a deposition, Father Y reported that Father X abused Barbara. She had told Father Y before she died. Ray realized that this woman was HIS mother.
So Barbara helped me, and I helped her. She reached out "beyond the grave" through a report given by a pedophile priest, Father Y, the man who abused HER son when he was a child.
Ray got satisfaction that his mother's abuse was exposed and that Father X's ministry was taken away in January of 2004. I certainly did too. Ray got satisfaction that Hanley was punished. I'm sure Barbara's spirit has satisfaction about Father X and Hanley being exposed and shamed. My mother is glad that I got Father X punishment, but sadly I think it is still difficult for her to realize that Father X abused her. She feels guilty about bringing me to him, and some of this is deserved; but it is Father X who deserves the vast majority of responsibility. He was our parish priest, the "father figure", (I used to call him "dad" during my abuse), educated, charming, powerful and charismatic. Mother didn't graduate from high school when Father X abused her, she was poor, mentally ill, and in a bad marriage. Recently, people have referred to him as the "woman's man", and knew "he had his girlfriends"; but years ago people didn't know how to report Father X.
I hope more "vulnerable women's stories" come out. They deserve the support too. Father X did admit to having sex with mother while I was in his house. He denied molesting me, and now he can't deny that any longer!
I think of Ray and his mother, Barbara, at this holiday season, 2007. I think of my mother and how we recently repaired out relationship. I think of her vulnerability and guilt. I think of Father X's denial and evil. I think of the corruption and evil of many priest (from the Pope on down) in the Catholic Church. I think of my "hero", Msgr. Ken Lasch of Morristown, NJ, and how he devoted his heart and soul helping me with the church investigation of Father X. I think of God and wonder were SHE/HE was when I and others were being abused. I lost my faith most of my life. I'm 62. Now I know where my Higher Power, Great Spirit, is. I got aquainted with this Spirit in SNAP and the 12-Step Programs. I left the Catholic Church, I don't find Spirit or inspiration there.