|ChrisOLeary.com > Sins of the Fathers > What Happened|
My story starts in the late 1970s -- I think the fall of 1976 -- at the Church of the Immacolata in Richmond Heights, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. My first memory of a priest is of Father -- now Cardinal -- Timothy Dolan coming to my 3rd grade class to discuss Mark 8: 22-26.
A year later, a new priest named Fr. LeRoy Valentine came to Immacolata from the seminary. He immediately took an interest in the boys of the parish, both altar boys and the younger ones. I gravitated to him, in part because my father was busy at work, and I valued Fr. Valentine's hugs, even if they did go on too long when he would hug me after Face to Face confession.
One evening Fr. Valentine had me and three other boys over the rectory to eat pizza, drink real Coke (not RC or Vess), and play board games. He also spent time with at least me, and maybe one other guy at least, individually watching TV.
I quickly became one of his favorites and he started to give me Special Training in the sacristy, training in which it would be just him and me. We would then go over to the rectory where, eventually, the really bad stuff happened.
I wasn't the only one Fr. Valentine did this to; pretty much every weekend Fr. Valentine would hang out with some boys at the pool and/or take them camping.
Fr. Dolan knew at least some of what was going on; he knew Fr. Valentine was bringing boys up to his room, hosting parties, and taking boys on trips to go caving and hiking.
But he did nothing.
In 2002, when the New York Times revealed the misdeeds of Fr. Valentine, I ended up talking to by that time Bishop Timothy Dolan about my experiences. I told Dolan some of what I remembered and, without hesitating, he told me that nothing happened. Dolan then referred me to a psychologist named Nancy Brown who told me the same thing; that I was just "misinterpreting" Fr. Valentine's intentions and actions.
I took Bishop Dolan at his word and put my concerns to rest, so much so that I didn't even notice when Fr. Valentine resigned a few weeks later.
Of course, that was also because neither Bishop Dolan nor anyone from the Archdiocese of St. Louis ever contacted me when Fr. Valentine resigned. And that was, in large part, because Bishop Dolan hid my existence from ArchStL.
Then things got REALLY bad...