The predator who worries me the most
By David Clohessy
“Of all these predator priests, which one worries you the most?” That was the question a fellow survivor put to me recently.
My immediate thought was “How on earth could I pick one?” My next thought was “Geez, this is gonna keep me up tonight.” And it certainly did.
The first name that popped to mind was Fr. Ronald H. Paquin, who’s recently been released from prison. He is known to have sexually abused more than 40 boys. Once, with four boys in his car, he crashed while driving drunk. One boy died and another was badly injured.
Then I realized that Fr. Paquin probably sprang to mind probably because he’s portrayed briefly in the film Spotlight.
I realized that kids may be a little safer from Fr. Paquin than other predators because he must register as a sex offender and because the abuse and cover up crisis has gotten so much coverage in Massachusetts.
Then I thought of about four guys in quick succession.
Fr. Henry Willenborg (who spent time in Illinois, Missouri and, most recently, Wisconsin) who reportedly molested a teen, impregnated an adult parishioner twice, suggested an abortion, fathered and ignored a child. Since 2009, Catholic officials say they’re investigating all of this alleged wrongdoing by the slick-talking and charismatic Fr. Willenborg.
--Fr. Willenborg’s time in Missouri reminded me of another ex-Missouri cleric, Br. William C. Mueller, who lives in San Antonio and molested more than 50 kids in Missouri, Colorado and Texas while teaching in Marianist schools.
--Fr. William Groves, who pled guilty to felony abuse and sheltering “runaway Indian and Hispanic kids and giving them drugs and alcohol.” As recently as June 2015, he was vice treasurer at the Spiritual Light Center in Franklin, North Carolina. http://www.spirituallightcenter.com/news-archive/nl15.06.pdf
(Previously, he worked in Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas and allegedly got abuse counseling at a center in Atlanta in the 1990s.)
--Fr. Groves reminded me of another predator priest who’s joined another denomination: Fr. Mark Fleming, who is now at South Parish Unitarian in Charlestown, NH.
Then a light bulb then went off in my head: I hadn’t even considered any of these 11 credibly accused predator priests, all of whom remain on the job even now:
Finally, though, I settled on a guy in my backyard: Fr. Bruce Forman. Despite a civil lawsuit (that got little public attention) against him for molesting a brave man named Steve Pona, Fr. Forman not only remains a pastor but also the head of an archdiocesan-wide group called Young Catholic Musicians.
One could argue that the most worrisome predators are those who have obviously abused many kids. But those offenders have usually attracted considerable coverage, so parents are more apt to learn about them and NOT trust their kids around them. Or one could argue that the most worrisome are those who have been exposed only a few times (like Fr. Forman) or those who are still in positions of authority over or access to kids.
Either way, with more than 6,000 accused child molesting clerics in the US, there’s plenty to worry about.