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New circles of tragedy follow sexual abuse

Sunday, March 10, 2002
By Richard Nangle, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

The common misconception is that only two people -- the young victim and the person responsible for the abuse -- have to confront the terrifying consequences brought about by each act of pedophilia.

Kim Malo knows that the truth can be far different; that each time a young person is sexually abused the circle widens. That wider circle means that not only will there be new victims, but possibly new abusers, as well.

The Northbridge resident learned the lesson firsthand and says she wants to go public with her story to forewarn others.

Her husband, Robert, was sexually abused as a youngster by a Catholic priest. Mr. Malo, in turn, was convicted of sexually abusing one of his own children and is nearing the end of a jail sentence that began in January 2001.

Ms. Malo does not want him set free.

She does not believe he has been rehabilitated and is particularly incensed that he has not received counseling for sex offenders. Beyond that, she wants charges brought against Mr. Malo for sexually abusing the couple's youngest son, a 7-year-old who was 4 when the abuse allegedly occurred.

Whether or not authorities will again charge her husband with sexual abuse is open to question because of her youngest son's condition.

“Because of his mental state, they will not proceed with any charges,” she said. “He cannot handle facing his father at this time.”

Ms. Malo says her youngest boy was placed in a psychiatric hospital several weeks ago after he put a knife to his throat.

That incident, coupled with the recent publicity about the extent of sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy in Massachusetts and elsewhere, convinced her that now was the time to come forward.

Mr. Malo sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester in 1994, maintaining that as an 11-year-old in 1978, he was abused by the Rev. Victor Frobas. The priest, who has since died, was being treated for pedophilia at the House of Affirmation in Whitinsville at the time and was stationed at the St. Rose of Lima parish in Northboro. He had been put in charge of organizing altar boys, including Robert Malo. Mr. Malo said he was orally and anally raped by Rev. Frobas.

The late Bishop Bernard Flanagan, head of the diocese at the time Rev. Frobas was assigned to the Northboro church, said that some priests were allowed to leave the House of Affirmation, “if in the judgment of the authority of the house they were capable of saying Mass.”

At the time of the lawsuit, Mr. Malo talked of the need for accountability in the diocese, saying, “They knew what he had done before he got here, and they know what he did when he left, and they've done nothing.”

He said he left the church shortly after the abuse, turned to drugs and alcohol and had trouble relating to people and to authority.

Rev. Frobas would eventually serve two years in a Missouri prison on convictions for sexual assault. Mr. Malo's suit was settled in 1995, but the terms cannot be disclosed because of a confidentiality agreement between Mr. Malo and the Worcester Diocese.

Ms. Malo believes the church shares a large portion of the blame for her husband's actions because an institutional policy that protected accused priests created a chain of sexual abuse.

“He thought they should pay for what they did to him,” she said of her husband of 13 years. “Now, look at what he's done to our family.”

Pointing to a picture of her family, she asked, “Are my children being abused because of what the priests did to my husband? Did the priests do this one, too?”

Ms. Malo said she didn't know much about her 36-year-old husband's past when she married him. Only years later would she find out about the sexual abuse.

She learned that as a young man, Mr. Malo robbed a convenience store.

Ten years ago he was found guilty of assault and battery for breaking her nose. He was placed on probation for a year. But for years afterward, Ms. Malo thought he was trying to be a good husband and father.

The two separated in May 1999 when Ms. Malo learned about the abuse of her oldest son. She said that she still wanted to support her husband even then, because it seemed as though he was seeking help.

“Then I come to find out that he molested my youngest son,” she said.

Ms. Malo said she has obtained a restraining order against her husband and is in the process of filing for divorce, she said. “Obviously, he lied about never touching any of the other children.”

Ms. Malo owns a small business that she formerly operated with her husband. Shortly after the revelations that Mr. Malo had sexually abused one of their sons, she found herself handling the finances of the business and raising her three sons and two daughters alone.

The emotional toll caused her to have a nervous breakdown and left her unable to work. Her home has been foreclosed upon and sold at an auction, but she has not yet been evicted. She's worried that the state will assume custody of her children once she loses the home.

Ms. Malo said she's aware that not all facets of her story are favorable to her. But she insists she has not come forward out of spite or for money.

“I don't want this to look like I'm trying to get revenge on my husband,” she said. “The responsibility lies with the diocese. My husband was abused. Because he didn't get the help he needed mentally, he turned into the abuser and abused our children.”

The Worcester Diocese, she said, “should be held accountable for hiding the pedophiles. Putting the pedophiles back in the church is not the way to protect our children. If they protected our children and kept the pedophiles out of the church, none of this would have happened, my children would be safe and happy today.”

Ms. Malo says she was sexually abused as a child by her own father, something the 34-year-old finally told her mother about just two years ago.

Now, she worries about her own children and how they will deal with what has happened to them, especially her 7-year-old, who is staying with relatives.

“I don't have him anymore because of his mental state, I can't handle that,” she said.

“What's it going to take, 30 years to eat at him?” Ms. Malo asked.


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