'There's no escape': Memories of being raped by Catholic priest haunt Columbus man
The room coming in and out of focus.
The pressure with which the older man pinned him to the floor.
These are a few of the memories that come back to Chris Graham in snapshots from years ago, when he was raped by a Catholic priest at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Powell.
He was 14 years old.
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Graham was a dedicated altar server at the time who looked up to priests at the parish so much that he considered becoming one.
Today, the 39-year-old podcaster and business coach from Westerville is working through flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by the childhood trauma he blocked out for more than two decades.
Psychotherapy, which he began last year and is ongoing, helped him remember the March 1997 rape at the hands of the late Rev. Raymond Lavelle, a priest named in 2019 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus as being credibly accused of sexually abusing multiple minors. Lavelle died in late 2015.
Graham reported what happened to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and the Diocese of Columbus earlier this year. Both entities declared the allegation to be credible.
But that alone didn't fix anything.
"Those wounds were so deep ... I was broken," Graham said. "Trauma echoes throughout your life until you begin to heal."