Sins of the Fathers > Sins of the Fathers > TOC > Open Letter to the Review Board

Members of the Review Board,

My name is Chris O'Leary.

I was sexually exploited, abused, and ultimately raped by Fr. Leroy Valentine at the Church of the Immacolata in Richmond Heights from the fall of 1977 through the spring of 1981.

Then things got REALLY bad.

I discuss what happened to me at a high level in these two pieces...

  • The Second Sin is a discussion of what happened to me when I tried to get help and should be of particular interest to the members of the Review Board.
  • The Sins of the Fathers is an overview of my entire story.

My experience trying to get help from the Archdiocese of St. Louis has raised a number of questions that I believe the members of the Review Board need to consider for reasons both of (professional) ethics and criminality.

    As I discuss in The Second Sin, I received nothing but Gaslighting and the Run-Around — nothing but further, this time psychological, abuse — during the 16 years I tried to get help from the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Abuse you are party to given your participation on the Review Board.
    In January 2014 the Archdiocese of St. Louis produced — under court order — a matrix of allegations it had received.
       That list was incomplete.
       I know because my name wasn't on it.
    And I have since learned that my allegation wasn't the only one kept out of the matrix. Isn't that Perjury? And Obstruction of Justice? Did you know you may be party to potentially CRIMINAL acts?
    As I discuss in The Second Sin, the idea of the Victim Assistance Coordinator is at the center of USCCB's recommendations for how to respond to the crisis and survivors.
       The problem is it’s a sham.
    In 16 years of trying, I was NEVER...

    - Put in touch with.
    - Contacted by.
    - Told of the existence of.

    ...a Victim Assistance Coordinator.
       Wondering if Deacon Phil Hengen, head of OCYP and my contact, was incompetent, in late 2013 I went to Monsignor Richard Hanneke for help. I told Hanneke that Hengen wasn't doing anything; that Hengen was just giving me the Run-Around. Hanneke just referred me back to Hengen. That told me that Hengen was doing his job. And that the Run-Around was a Strategy, not a bureaucratic Screw-Up.
    It is my understanding that the Archdiocese of St. Louis has ended its policy of secrecy when it comes to handling complaints of abuse by priests. Why then did the Review Team that I met with in 2011 have no record of my 2002 conversations with Cardinal Dolan or with the psychologist who I assume was Nancy Brown? Is the Review Board aware of my 2002 conversations with them? I ask in part because I recently discussed this topic with Bishop Rick Stika of Nashville and he told me that there was no mention of me or my allegations in Fr. Valentine's file when Bishop Stika reviewed it.
    Was it appropriate for Cardinal Dolan in 2002 to repeatedly and definitively tell me that Fr. Valentine had done nothing to me after only talking to me for a few minutes on the phone? Without conducting an investigation of any sort? Was he even qualified to make such a judgment had he bothered to investigate?
    Why wasn't I notified and/or followed up with after Fr. Valentine resigned in late March 2002? Just days after I talked to Cardinal Dolan and Nancy Brown? By Bishop Dolan, Bishop Stika, Archbishop Rigali, and/or Archbishop Burke?
    The 2011 Pastoral Policy, which was in effect at the time that I spoke to the Review Team in May 2011, says no lawyers are to be members of a Review Team. However, not one but two lawyers were present at my meeting with the Review Team. Is that appropriate? Ethical? Why does that part of the Pastoral Policy exist if it isn't going to be followed? Why wasn't I told that lawyers from the Archdiocese were going to be present so I could consider bringing a lawyer of my own?
    I have no idea if the Review Board has heard of me or knows of my allegations against Fr. LeRoy Valentine. Assuming you have, and if you made a decision based on my testimony, you need to understand that my testimony is incomplete. I was cut off in the middle of my testimony by Deacon Phil Hengen when he asked me "What do you hope to gain from this process," and then by the alarm on Mr. Huger's phone going off a few minutes later.
    Why wasn't I EVER told of the existence of, put in contact with, or contacted by an Assistance Coordinator? Despite the expectation that is set by USCCB?
    Why haven't I EVER been notified of any decision made by the Archdiocesan Review Board? I took the time to go to you, so why won't you take some time to reply to me?
    Was it appropriate for Deacon Phil Hengen to diagnose me at the end of my (abbreviated) meeting with the Review Team? After meeting with me just once? In a group setting? With lawyers present? To recommend I read the book, Man Enough?
    Was it appropriate for Deacon Phil Hengen to tell me he would contact my psychologist and then never do so?
    Was it appropriate for Monsignor Richard Hanneke to refer me back to Deacon Phil Hengen even after I told him that Hengen had done nothing to help me, much less put me in touch with an Assistance Coordinator?
    In February 2018, Sandra Price sent me an e-mail asserting that my "claim" had been "acknowledged" but, legally speaking, those are empty, worthless words. They sound like they say something, but don't. She also lied repeatedly in her e-mail to me, which made it hard for me to take it seriously as an apology, admission, or whatever.
    Even if the intention of Sandra Price's e-mail was for it to be an admission, any such language was completely contradicted by the language of the Settlement Agreement.
    In response to an April 2018 piece by Aisha Sultan that told part of my story, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis alleged that my story changed. Do you agree with that assessment?
    Please explain the logic of recommending the permanent removal of Fr. Leroy Valentine — the person who I suspected of and then accused of abusing me — from public ministry in 2013, announcing the action publicly via a press release, and making no attempt to contact me to alert/warn me. Much less help me.
    In researching this piece, I came to discover that the Archdiocese of St. Louis offers support groups for survivors of sexual abuse. That’s a great idea. However, as with the (supposed) Assistance Coordinator, I have never been told of the existence of, been put in touch with, or contacted by the coordinator of such a group. Is it anything more than eyewash? Yet another P.R. exercise? Is there any there, there? I say that in part because, a few years ago, and before I filed my lawsuit, I went to the offices of Catholic Family Services seeking assistance. I was offered no assistance whatsoever. I certainly wasn’t told of the existence of a support group for survivors, which leads me to question whether it even exists.
    I filed my lawsuit with my parents As Friends so they could help keep my lawsuit moving forward should I become triggered and not be able to function and/or respond to my lawyers, as has happened in the past. The first motion the lawyers for the Archdiocese of St. Louis filed was to have my parents removed as friends. The only reason they would do that would be psychologically isolate me. While legal, that seems unethical if not morally questionable given my existing (and known) psychological problems.
    When it became clear that the efforts of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to Gaslight me were successful in creating a problem with the statute of limitations, my lawyer made several efforts to settle my case, starting at $100,000. All of those efforts were rejected. Ultimately, I received only $9,000. Do you feel that $9,000 is an adequate amount of money to cover the costs of therapy, much less the psychological abuse — Gaslighting and the Run-Around — that I endured?
    The settlement offer I received came with a short expiration date, which represented another effort by the Archdiocese of St. Louis to apply psychological pressure.
    I have been diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety, and Complex-PTSD. I have also recently developed some form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (Hoarding). Is it appropriate to subject a person with my mental and physical health history to such an ordeal? To torment them? Is that appropriate? Ethical?
  23. CANCER
    FYI, I was fighting Cancer (Malignant Melanoma) from Spring 2013 onwards, something which the Archdiocese of St. Louis would have learned during the discovery process.

I do not believe that Review Board of the Archdiocese of St. Louis can or should continue to function after being made aware of what I have told you. As a result…

I call on the Review Board of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to resign en masse in order to end the charade and send a message to the Archdiocese of St. Louis that their past and present abuse of survivors is unacceptable.

I call on Sandra Price, the executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, to resign. She lied to me in her February 2018 e-mail.

I call on Carol Brescia, the Victim Assistance Coordinator to resign. Your position is a sham. I don’t know when you were hired, but please understand that at no point was I ever told of the existence of you or your (supposed) predecessor. As an LCSW, your participation in this charade places your license and reputation at stake.

I call on Saundra Barker, Program Director, Catholic Family Services to resign. As an MSW and LCSW, and by participating in such a charade, your license and reputation are in jeopardy.

I call on Pope Francis to launch an investigation of Archbishop Robert Carlson and the Archdiocese of St. Louis. What I have experienced and documented is a clear and on-going pattern of disregarding the guidelines that the Church has established.

I call on Pope Francis to launch an investigation of Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Catholic Church in the United States long ago lost its way and, as I hope my story makes clear, continues to inflict pain and suffering — to torment — those who survived abuse at the hands of a few, evil priests.

Prove to people that the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse scandal is more than just Eyewash.


Chris O'Leary
ivandoesnot at