|ChrisOLeary.com > Sacrificed > My Friend the Cardinal|
A quick note before I get started.
I've mentioned before that, if you'd like to — or would rather — read what I have to say, rather than listen...
That's especially important when it comes to this piece.
I make some I assume hard to believe claims about my treatment by the Archdiocese of St. Louis in this piece, and I back them up with pictures and video clips that document what I experienced.
It's the Winter of 2002-2003.
However, as we stand in line — there are two or three other pairs of parents and children in front of us — along the West wall of the Mary, Queen of Peace church, I start to feel...
My Friend the Cardinal
This is Sacrificed, a survivor's eye view of the Catholic sex abuse crisis that picks up, as my story does, where the movie SPOTLIGHT left off, providing a no punches pulled, no holds barred, and, above all else, no enabling look at the crisis and its aftermath.
What happened and why and how.
Both back then and now.
My name is Chris O'Leary and I'm a survivor of the Catholic sex abuse crisis.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was sexually exploited, abused, and assaulted — raped — by a Catholic priest.
Then, when I went to my archdiocese for help in March 2002, and my friend the cardinal — and not the baseball kind — called me back, that's when things got REALLY bad.
When the Abuse of the Abused began.
Epitomized by my treatment at the Mass of Reparation for the sex abuse crisis, in September 2018, held mere weeks after the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, where I was ignored — shunned — by all the priests in attendance.
As captured by the picture that serves as the cover art for this podcast.
Why would my archdiocese and the Catholic Church do that?
HOW could they do that?
Treat a survivor in a way that might be Catholic, but is anything but Christian? And gives the lie to the promises of the Pope and the rest of the church?
In order to protect certain powerful, connected men.
And the church.
To conceal a crime.
And larger truth.
That some survivors — including myself — were simply thrown to the wolves.
The Catholic Church knew.
And did nothing.
Not only did they MANAGE my and our abusers, they PROTECTED them.
As for VOS ESTIS LUX MUNDI, Pope Francis' bill of rights for survivors, which was supposed to — finally — end the torment and ensure we're helped?
It's a sham.
A false hope.
A cruel taunt, directed at survivors.
All of which raises what for me is the big question.
If the Catholic Church can do what it's done to me, a survivor, over the past 20 years, and what it allowed to be done to me, and us, first as children and then as adults — sacrificing us, then and now — what else can it justify?
When it comes to children, above all else.
I'll be damned if I allow what happened to me to happen to anyone else, so I can't and won't stop until I figure out what happened.
And ensure it CAN'T happen again.
If Jesus Christ can do what he did, entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to a certain and KNOWN fate, then I can do this.
Why can it take survivors so long to come forward? To remember and/or understand what happened to us?
How can I have what I guess was a panic attack during my son's first confession, and even make the connection to confession, and not start to even CONSIDER its significance for another two and a half years? And not start TALKING about and exploring it with a therapist for another seven or eight years?
How does that HAPPEN?
Some of that is a combination of things getting blanked out — or, at least, being put in a memory room, the door closed and locked, and the key discarded — and some of it is due to my being young and naive and not understanding what I remembered. Not realizing what's happening is a big deal and NEEDS to be remembered.
But in my case, at least, I had help.
Help in NOT understanding what happened to me.
Provided by the person who, I suspect, is the answer to the question Dave Glover asked me during my June 2019 appearance on his show...
So here's what I don't understand. If it's pretty common knowledge that this guy did it, why are you singled out as, "But I bet this kid's lying?"
Because of my friend, the cardinal.
When I went to him for help understanding my memories in early March 2002, he lied to me.
And, worse, Gaslighted me.
Sent me on a wild goose chase.
All the while ACTING on what I had told him; removing my abuser.
Without my knowledge.
And without circling back to me to let me know that I wasn't the only person with questionable memories of Father LeRoy Valentine.
Such that I could break down as I'm standing there, in the moments before my oldest son's first confession — have a panic attack, I guess — and not think about it again for YEARS.
Not until after the SAME EXACT thing happened to me during my older DAUGHTER's first confession and, even then, take years to dig into what happened during confession.
And when I was a child.
Why would he do that?
For the benefit of his church.
Which is the — still largely untold — story of the Catholic sex abuse crisis. The worst aspect of the Abuse of the Abused.
It's not that they DIDN'T believe us; in some cases, at least, they DID.
And they took that information and used it to protect the church. And themselves.
And profited from their displays of loyalty, such that they are now the men running the Catholic Church.
Men who refused to do anything to help US.
And that's such a horrible story — so obviously of Satan — that, while doing so terrifies me, it's obviously time to name names.
It's a funny coincidence — or not — but, since starting this podcast, I've been going back and forth on whether to name my friend, the cardinal.
On the one hand, he did it. And I know he did it. And I know what he did. To me and others.
I know MY story.
And enough of the stories of others who have contacted me.
And the overlap, and common threads, are just terrible.
There's no doubt what happened.
On the other hand, this is the Catholic Church we're talking about. And one of the most powerful men in the world.
Such that when, a couple of months ago, I talked to a journalist about my friend the cardinal, prompted by an article discussing the latest shady deal he was involved in, and proposed that I name my friend the cardinal publicly, when that journalist called a fellow survivor for corroboration — another survivor of Valentine and, in fact, the guy who talked to my friend the cardinal in late March 2002, prompting Valentine's resignation — that survivor completely freaked out.
On the journalist.
Had a reaction that was the product of pure terror.
Scaring off the journalist.
And killing the article.
What a disaster.
And that was the end of that.
Or so I thought.
It depressed the hell out of me.
But, to quote one of the great minds of psychology, "Just keep swimming."
Or, in my case, writing and podcasting.
And THEN — and I'm laughing as I write this, given the crazy coincidence, and the fact that SOMEBODY seems to have decided IT'S TIME for the story to come out — two weeks ago, out of nowhere, completely without warning, the traditionalist Catholic web site Church Militant runs an article about my friend the cardinal.
And away we go.
I'd talked to the author over a year ago, in large part on background for a lawsuit, and had no idea he was going to write an article about what we had discussed. What's more, I had talked to Church Militant before about my allegations against my friend the cardinal, but that story was killed due to trouble getting corroboration.
So seeing this piece in print was a COMPLETE surprise.
And, before you think I'm anything but an ordinary man, understand that seeing my allegations in print didn't do my stomach any favors.
But, thy will be done.
So, then, when the folks at the Angry Catholic Show called and wanted to talk about the Church Militant article, I had to say, "Yes."
So now, I'm here, about to spill the beans.
And I'm scared.
To be doing this.
But, if Jesus Christ can do what He did, then I can do this.
"HE'S COMING," I shout-whisper to the rest of the class, my head poked outside the door of Miss Key's class.
It's the Fall of 1976 and I'm a third grader at the Church of the Immacolata in Richmond Heights, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. It's the day and time for our weekly religion class and — BIG DEAL — Father Dolan has come over from the rectory to talk to us.
Fr. Timothy Dolan.
Our new, young priest, fresh out of the seminary.
And he's stride-waddling down the hallway towards our classroom, the last one on the right, in the Southeast corner of the building.
The gospel for the day was Mark 8: 22-26, in which Jesus heals a blind man at Bethsaida...
22 Then Jesus came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him.
23 So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything.
24 And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.”
25 Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.
26 Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.”
...and Fr. Dolan was coming to talk to us during religion class about the gospel and what it meant.
I don't remember exactly what he said, but what I remember coming away with was the idea that Jesus Christ was just like me and — blasphemy alert for some, I guess — was capable of making mistakes, just like I was.
No, seriously, I've been told that interpretation of Mark 8: 22-26, which seems to me to be the obvious one — that Christ was trying to tell us SOMETHING — is WRONG.
To me, I took that story as meaning that, maybe, my mistakes weren't as big of a deal as I thought they were.
That it was OK to not be perfect.
If Jesus Christ could, then I could, too.
The reason I remember this memory is that Father Dolan asked two of us — a boy and a girl — to volunteer to act out the gospel.
And he chose ME.
To play the role of Jesus Christ.
Which was a PRETTY big deal.
And, from that moment on, cemented Fr. Dolan as one of my favorites.
Given that I was just a third grader, I didn't have many chances to get to know Father Dolan in that or the following year; we didn't start serving until fifth grade. However, once I did start serving, I did serve for him at least once — remember, we went to mass six days a week and the in-school, all school masses required six servers to cover communion, at least — and I remember Fr. Dolan as being both serious and reverent, but also understanding and encouraging. He mostly worked with the older servers but, at least once, I served for him and worked as his right hand server, handling the Big Book — "Let us pray," etc. — and all that entailed.
I mention all of that — it's important to establish that — because that was the man I had in mind when, in early March 2002, the New York Times ran an article that named my abuser, Father LeRoy Valentine, a story that was then picked up by the local St. Louis press.
That then led the Circuit Attorney's office and the Archdiocese of St. Louis to ask people to call them with any information they might have about Fr. Valentine.
Which I did.
While I never received a call back from the Circuit Attorney's office — I've heard rumors about a grand jury, but always figured there was a statute of limitations problem — the next day I received a call from my friend the cardinal, who was at that time an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Hey Chris. Tim Dolan. Bishop Dolan. Been a long time.
I got your message about Father Valentine.
After a minute or so of pleasantries, which were necessary because I was a bit breathless that BISHOP FREAKING DOLAN HIMSELF was calling me, AND HE REMEMBERED ME from Immacolata, I breathlessly asked the question.
These things they're saying about Fr. Valentine, do you believe them? Are they true? COULD they be true?
Bishop Dolan replied with a question about what I remembered.
I then told him about four sets of memories I had that involved Fr. Valentine, which I discussed back in episode one, SPOTLIGHT & Me & Since.
First, there was Face To Face Confession. While there was something comforting about the hugs the Fr. Valentine would give us, they also went on for a long time. And he was SO huggy... I didn't really LIKE the hugs but, because my dad was a bit distant during that time of my life, It's accurate to say that I NEEDED them. And I got from Father Valentine what I couldn't get from my dad.
Second, there was the Risk & Pizza Party in the Rectory, which I only remembered fondly, even then failing to apply my parent's mind to the situation; no, I wouldn't have let one of my kids go to such an event.
Third, there was Special Training which, again, was one of my favorite memories from my childhood; one of the things that made me feel valued and special and singled out. Sure, the memory ended kind of weird, but it was Father V, so...
Finally, there was the Mud Cave Trip, which was the one memory I had that had any sort of negative tint to it. The trip itself was fine — fun — but my memory of waking up from a nap and looking at Fr. Valentine, and being absolutely DISGUSTED by him, was just so...
Seriously, what the HELL was that?
And what did it mean?
And it was that off-ness that led me to again ask the big question.
These things they're saying about Fr. Valentine, do you believe them? Are they true? COULD they be true?
To which Bishop Timothy Dolan immediately, and without ANY hesitation — or investigation — replied.
I know Fr. Valentine well.
We were at the seminary together.
We lived and worked together at Immacolata.
I know Leroy Valentine didn't do any of the things he's being accused of.
I know he would never do anything to hurt a child.
A hard, definitive, "No."
Which was good enough for me.
However, when Bishop Dolan told me...
There's someone I know — a psychologist — who works with us and knows about this stuff. I'd be glad to set up a time for you to talk with her, if you'd like me to.
...for whatever reason — actually, as I think about it, it was because of the ending of the Mud Cave Trip memory and how I felt seeing Fr. Valentine upon awakening from my nap — I wanted to meet with the psychologist.
I don't have my calendars from back then, so I can't tell you who she was or exactly when we met, but I assume it was the next week, meaning the 10th of March, 2002, or so.
And I suspect she was Nancy Brown, the Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Not that it matters.
Except it means she wasn't exactly the independent psychologist Dolan sold her as being.
And I've invested SIGNIFICANT time and effort into trying to figure out where and when we met, and who she was, because the 11 year-old is OBSESSED with knowing...
I met with her in her office in downtown Clayton and told her my memories and she told me that same thing Bishop Dolan did.
That my memories didn't mean anything.
Any what about my memories of the hugs?
And how they made me feel?
Suffocated? And other stuff?
I was just "misinterpreting" Father Valentine's actions and intentions.
And I was relieved to get a clean bill of health.
And not just one, but two.
Which, in retrospect, makes it hard to understand — to process — what then Bishop and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan did in the second half of March 2002, in the days and weeks after he told me nothing happened, and right before he was named and went on to serve as the Archbishop of Milwaukee.
But I had a young, growing family — a baby who was born towards the end of February and was just a few weeks old — and big dreams and plans, so we went on vacation in Florida and I put it out of my mind and behind me.
After being told by then Bishop, and now Cardinal, Timothy Dolan, that nothing happened, I just went on with my life.
And then I got sick.
I had what was basically a nervous breakdown in 2007 and, in the process, lost everything. Savings, marriage, family, everything. It was bad enough that it would be 11 years, not until the very end of 2017, that I would get to the point where I was able to DO something about what had happened to me, at which point I started writing, first my piece Assistance Coordinators and Other Lies.
I went public in April 2018, which led the Archdiocese of St. Louis to launch a Smear Campaign against me.
Instead of scaring me, it emboldened me.
It confirmed that I was dealing with an unrepentant, and thus dangerous, entity.
That prompted — enabled — me to do two critical things.
First, I started digging. Second, I kept talking.
And, the more I dug, and spoke up, the more I learned, especially about my friend the cardinal, Timothy Dolan. And what had happened — what he had, and had NOT, done — after I went to him for help in early March 2002.
As a man, I can be pretty clueless.
However, I had been married long enough, and had had kids long enough — no, he doesn't actually HATE Barney, he's just tired — to know a, "reacting to something else," reaction when I saw one.
And that's what I saw — eventually — in the Archdiocese of St. Louis' reaction to my going public and telling my story in 2018.
It gradually dawned on me, over the course of 2018, and especially with my treatment at the Mass of Reparation, that they weren't the terrible, despicable, wicked people I had thought they were.
They weren't indifferent.
They were SCARED.
They weren't just blowing me off.
They were trying to DESTROY me.
I'll go into the details of that part of the story — of the first half of 2018 — in a later episode but, right now, let me get into what it did to me.
How it made me feel.
And how it spurred me into action.
But, in sum, God bless the Google.
I had long had the sense that the role Timothy Cardinal Dolan played in my story was non-trivial. Because he was a big deal. IMPORTANT. Potentially the first American Pope.
However, my second therapist knew about things and told me she thought that Dolan's chances of being Pope had been ruined by his behavior in Milwaukee; that New York had been his consolation prize.
But what if the people of the Archdiocese of St. Louis didn't agree? What if they thought Dolan was still Pope-able? And were acting to protect him?
And, I was the hole in the deal.
And not the only one?
As a result, I jumped on Google and started searching for strings like "cardinal dolan immacolata" and "timothy dolan st louis" and "timothy dolan st louis valentine immacolata."
And then I found it.
In a book called, "No Longer On Pedestals," a book about the Catholic sex abuse crisis written by Carol Kuhnert, the sister of an abuser — I assume as a form of familial penance — I found a document.
From early March 2002.
And the thing about this document that sends chills down my spine whenever I think about it — what an AMAZING coincidence — is that there was NO, NONE, ZERO reason for that document to be in that book.
Yes, Kuhnert weaves the document into her narrative about how bishops responded to and handled claims of abuse, BUT WHY DID SHE HAVE IT?
Holy crap, why was she GIVEN it?
You see, the document is a memo, dated March 6, 2002, from Bishop Timothy Dolan's secretary to him, telling him about someone who called in with information about Father LeRoy Valentine.
Which meant that, holy crap, I wasn't the only person who had come forward in early March 2002 and talked to then Bishop Timothy Dolan.
Rather, there were TWO of us.
And, if there were two of us, how many others could there be?
The person mentioned in the Kuhnert Dolan memo wasn't the only person I knew of who also had a connection to both Father LeRoy Valentine and Father and then Bishop and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
It's also a story for another time but in April 2018 I was made aware of — contactED by — another person who had alleged to me that he had been abused by Fr. Valentine. Abuse that, at least in part, had been witnessed by then Fr. Tim Dolan.
I bring that up to help give you a sense of my state of mind.
That there was a counter incrementing in my head, and each tick both shook and emboldened me.
I had thought I was alone.
The only guy abused by Valentine. The only guy Gaslighted by Bishop Dolan.
And now I'm finding about all these other guys.
I'M NOT ALONE.
Holy crap, that's great.
So, how am I supposed to just forget about this stuff — how CAN I just forget about this — when I know about the true scale of what happened?
And I know that what I DO know is only a fraction of the whole.
How do you just forget about something like that? Fail to do NOTHING about it?
Through the Winter, Spring, and Summer of 2019 I was trying to work on my baseball stuff — which is how I survive and is an obsession that grows out of my abuse, but more on that later — but, increasingly, found it harder to think about anything but what happened to me.
And wonder who else experienced the same things.
Then, in July 2019, I was contacted by two people who cemented my resolve.
Though it's also a story for another time, in sum, the first person who contacted me was the wife of someone I know of — I know their brother — who had some questions about how abuse can affect a marriage and who, ultimately, ended up telling me a terrible story about a now bishop, someone who's fairly prominent on Twitter, and who abused at least one person as a diocesan priest. I mention that because it told me something about the level of depravity present in the bishops of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The second person was someone a few years younger than me, who my brothers knew but I didn't, and who had a hell of a story to tell.
It turns out that he had also been abused by Father LeRoy Valentine. In his case, just once, and also during Face To Face confession.
And, critically, he had made then Bishop and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan aware of his allegations, of what Fr. LeRoy Valentine had done to him, in late March 2002.
It turns out that he came forward a few weeks after I and the person in the Kuhnert Dolan Memo did because he was living in California and it took some time for the allegations to filter out to him, via an ex girlfriend.
With at least three, and only God knows how many more, allegations against Father LeRoy Valentine, Dolan did the responsible thing; he went to Fr. Valentine and, presumably, asked/forced him to resign. In the press, Valentine said he did so voluntarily, but I don't see how his priesthood was tenable, any more.
And, once Dolan had gotten Valentine out of there, what did he do next?
Given that he had — at least — three stories about, and sets of allegations against, Father Valentine in his possession, the Christian thing for Dolan to have done was to circle back to me, at least, to tell me that, even though he had told me nothing happened, my story might indeed mean something.
But that's not what Bishop and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan did.
So there I am, in February 2003, having what I can only guess was a panic attack. Which occurred when I accompanied my son to his First Confession and I, thinking nothing of it, also made my confession.
In the Face To Face side of the confessional.
Or tried to.
THAT was weird.
But TOTALLY random.
Not related to ANYTHING.
Because, come on, less than a year before, I had gone to my friend Bishop Tim Dolan — who by that time was clearly an up and comer and a big deal and was running the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and there were rumors of BIG things — and had told him my stories about Fr. LeRoy Valentine, and first confession, and both he and an independent psychologist who worked with the Archdiocese of St. Louis had told me it didn't mean anything.
So, when it came to whatever the hell had just happened to me at my older son's first confession? At a minimum, I knew it had NOTHING to do with my experiences with Fr. LeRoy Valentine.
And then it happened again.
Two years later.
It's February 2005 and it's time for my older daughter to make her First Confession. As with my older son, I accompany her to the evening service.
This time, instead of going to the confessional on the West wall which, in the case of my son's first confession had been manned by the pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, we go to the set of confessionals on the East wall. And, unlike last time, instead of standing against the wall as we wait, we instead sit down in, and slid down, the pew nearest to the confessionals.
And, as I get closer to the confessional, I start to get nervous.
And then a tear starts to forms in the inside corner of my left eye.
And then I have to choke back a sob.
What the HELL?!?
My daughter makes her confession, going into the Dark Scary Room side, and then I go into the Face To Face side, where I see Fr. Meier, our pastor, sitting there.
I try to say something but, I realize that, if I open my mouth, I'm going to start sobbing.
It takes me a minute to even partially compose myself, at which point I choke out something.
"I'm one of those guys..."
And that's all I can manage.
Fr. Meier seems to understand — has this happened to him before? — and he says a quick prayer and gives me a blessing and I bail the hell out of there, desperate to hide what just happened to me from my daughter.
Because I'm a freak.
Who can't manage to keep it together during confession. Who keeps breaking down. For some completely random reason.
While, when this first happened in 2003, it left me unaffected, this time it got me thinking.
What the HELL is going on?
On the one hand, Bishop Dolan gave me a clean bill of health in March 2002. On the other hand, I keep having these THINGS during confession.
But I don't REMEMBER anything.
Well, there WAS that time driving back from the Mud Cave Trip, and my memory of Special Training is kind of weird how it kind of just fades out with Valentine behind me and his arms around me...
But my friend Bishop, and now Archbishop, Timothy Dolan told me they didn't mean anything.
And he didn't even have to THINK about it!
But, I'm not stupid. I know what a pattern looks like. So, by September 2005, I was starting to wonder...
The first thing I did was I reached out to David Clohessy, the head of the survivors' organization SNAP. However, while he quickly replied to me, I didn't get back to him.
It was just too much.
To entertain the possibility.
Or I didn't want to know, maybe.
Regardless, I just COULDN'T hit Reply to his reply to me.
However, what I DID manage to do in September 2005, on the 14th to be exact, was I reached out to the reporters from the New York Times who wrote the article that was basically my SPOTLIGHT story. I first contacted Jodi Wilgoren and, quoting from the e-mail I sent her...
I am writing regarding an article you co-wrote a few years ago about sexual abuse in St. Louis and Fr. Leroy Valentine.
I am interested because I was at a parish where Fr. Valentine was located in the late 70s and early 80s and have some uncomfortable memories that I am trying to deal with. I had been kind of blowing them off until I had a panic attack while taking my son to his first confession.
Now I wonder.
I was wondering if you found the allegations (and accusers) against Fr. Valentine to be credible.
Wilgoren replied, on the same day, referring me to Laurie Goodstein, her partner on the piece, because Goodstein had covered the Valentine side of the story, but she did say, and again I'm quoting from the e-mail she sent me...
Thanks for your note.
I am very sorry to hear about your uncomfortable experience.
Generally, I think the story speaks for itself -- I do not remember too much more detail than what was included, and I think if we had not thought the accusations credible, we would not have published them.
I remember exactly WHERE I was when I read this e-mail, but I don't remember how it made me FEEL.
But I do know that the fact that my friend, then Bishop and now Cardinal, Timothy Dolan told me that nothing happened absolutely weighed on me.
I trusted him.
I knew there was NO WAY he wouldn't do what was the best for me.
I mean, he was my friend. And a Catholic priest. And not just a priest, but a bishop.
Man, but what about my memories?
How could I spend so much time with Fr. Valentine and, despite the fact that he did stuff to other guys, come away unscathed?
And there WAS the Mud Cave Trip memory. And Special Training. And...
But, no, it was simply IMPOSSIBLE.
My friend Bishop Dolan had told me so.
And that was that.
So it wouldn't be until late 2010 that I even started discussing my experiences with Fr. Valentine again with my therapists, having run out of other possible explanations for why I was struggling.
For as long as I can remember, I've had this thing about my hair.
When it gets long.
Especially in the Spring.
In fact, in the weeks before I went public in the April 2018 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I tweeted about that subject.
So when, in the evening of April 20, 2018, on the day the article in which I went public ran, I received a Twitter direct message...
Hello Chris my name is _____, I graduated from Immacolata in 19__, was a alter boy and had to get “hair cuts” from Fr. Valentine in his bedroom, so I unfortunately know too. What angers me as much is several times leaving Valentines bedroom, fr. Timothy Dolan, now Cardinal Dolan lived in the room next door & would be standing right there & never did anything
...it triggered something.
Put some context to the feeling of Valentine playing with my hair.
Connected to my memory of Special Training, and more...
Valentine is behind me and, while I'm distracted and laser focused on moving the consecrated hosts from one bowl to another, one host at a time, Valentine is playing with my hair with one hand — running his fingers through it, and murmuring things, I guess to himself but also to me — and touching me with his other hand.
On my hip.
And then my thigh.
And then, down there.
And this didn't just happen in the sacristy, in the back of the church.
It also happened in the rectory.
While Father Dolan was around.
And the fact that Fr. Dolan saw, but didn't react to it, it is one reason why I didn't think it was a big deal.
I don't remember the exact context — I don't remember the "haircuts" pretext, but I do remember it at least involved my hair — but, like a lot of guys who were abused, and as part of a Testing if not Grooming process, I also spent time up in Father Valentine's room.
Which was right next to Father Dolan's room.
I'd be sitting on the end of Fr. Valentine's bed and he'd be talking and whispering to me. And he'd be touching me. And Fr. Dolan and Monsignor Flavin would be around. And their LACK of reaction is what let me know that this wasn't a big deal.
And, to that point, the thing about my abuser, Fr. LeRoy Valentine, is that, while he hid some stuff — Special Training took place in the back of the church, while he and I were alone — he didn't even try to hide his interest in boys.
It was out in the open.
For instance, the Risk & Pizza Party happened out in the open in the rectory; the rectory Father Valentine shared, for two years, from the Summer of 1977 to 1979, with then Father, and now Cardinal, Timothy Dolan.
While I thought of myself as having been special and singled out, apparently Fr. Valentine was doing with basically every boy in the parish the stuff he was doing with me. That meant the six or so months that I recall there being between incidents with Fr. Valentine? That's when Valentine was going after other guys.
As for whether Fr. Dolan didn't understand what he was seeing, all I know is the moms of Immacolata were freaked out by it.
When I talked to Sr. Helen about all this, a couple years ago, she told me that, within days of school starting, Mrs. G, who supervised the after school program in the gym, came to her, all freaked out.
Apparently, Valentine had come over to the after school program, which was held in the gym, and he was wearing these shorts...
With a bulge.
And he was wrestling with the kids while dressed like that.
It was sufficiently weird that led Sister Helen to meet with Monsignor Flavin, to register her concerns and the concerns of Mrs. G, to which Flavin responded, "Mind your own damn business. Your job is to worry about what happens in the school. What happens anywhere else is my concern. And I'll handle it."
And that was that.
And, of course, nothing was handled.
As for Father Dolan, maybe he didn't understand what he was seeing? As others, including a (different) Catholic psychologist, have told me.
I find that hard to believe, given the strength of the reactions of both Mrs. G and Sr. Helen.
What's more. Fr. Dolan would have seen what Mrs. G had seen and MORE.
As I've learned over the past few years, Valentine was doing stuff basically every day. He had a constant parade of boys through the rectory.
And Valentine didn't try to hide any of it.
As I said, Father and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan was around, living in the same rectory, when Father LeRoy Valentine had me and us over to the rectory for the Risk & Pizza Party.
And for tours of the rectory.
And Valentine's room.
And it was precisely Dolan's LACK of a reaction, at what he was seeing, that reassured me that what I was feeling wasn't a concern.
Why didn't I figure out what had happened to me?
It pains me to say this, but it was primarily, if not exclusively, because my friend, Father then Bishop and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan lied to me.
Told me nothing happened.
And sent me on an 10-year wild goose chase.
One that lasted, in total, from 2002 until 2012.
Though I didn't make the connection until STUPIDLY recently, as in the past few weeks, I IMMEDIATELY started having psychological problems after my March 2002 conversations with Bishop Dolan and the "independent" psychologist he referred me to. As I've mentioned before, we went on Spring Break to Florida within a few days of my talking to Dolan, and I had a number of episodes of strange, sometimes irresponsible behavior.
Episodes that stand out because I was changing, so much so that people started commenting on it. Though I had no idea what was happening or why.
Although I knew it COULDN'T have been due to the Fr. Valentine stuff because my friend Bishop Dolan had told me nothing happened.
I mean, he wasn't just a priest but a bishop, and Jesus and all that...
And then I had the panic attack while taking my older son to his First Confession.
And I started to disintegrate, psychologically.
In the Summer of 2003, I started seeing a psychiatrist for what I thought was — what I self-diagnosed as — ADHD.
I was having trouble concentrating at work.
Hell, even just THINKING.
Out of the blue.
I had been (mostly) fine before and then, suddenly, in 2003, I just...
Not that it was tied to anything.
I don't think I even CONSIDERED the idea that my struggles might be related to Fr. Valentine. Despite the panic attack during my older son's First Confession. And the fact that many of my stories involving Fr. Valentine also involved confession.
Because, Bishop Dolan told me they weren't.
After listening to my stories, including one on which I described how, in high school, I had to study with both the stereo and the TV on, such that I could barely concentrate, and couldn't really memorize things, the doctor agreed to give me a prescription and to try some different options.
To see if that was it.
Yes, the doctor suspected that some of what was going on was anxiety. But that was such a completely RANDOM thing to say.
There was no way.
And I knew for CERTAIN that it had nothing to do with the Fr. Valentine stuff.
Because Bishop Dolan had told me it didn't.
And it would be years before I started to pick up on the pattern that the Summers were just TERRIBLE for me. Which is weird because that is when the worst stuff would happen. When my parents were out of town.
The ADHD meds worked — helped — over the course of the Summer, but then started causing problems as the Fall and the Winter passed.
I started to get wired.
(SIDE NOTE: Which is NOT how ADHD works; ADHD is not seasonal.)
Suddenly, my meds were too much.
Such that I started having problems sleeping.
And then I'd be up for hours in the middle of the night, wired, and then the gender confusion would return and start mixing in with everything.
So then I had to drink in order to be able to sleep. And now I'm mixing uppers and downers.
Taking downers to cut off the influence of the uppers.
But, at least, after a few weeks, I was able to recognize that that was a BAD idea and cut out everything, cold turkey.
And, of course, I knew that the struggles I was facing COULDN'T be due to my experience with Father Valentine — because Bishop Dolan told me they weren't, thus meaning it was FORBIDDEN for me to even consider that — so I started looking around for other diagnoses. Stuff that might explain my increasing detachment from my wife and my family, in particular. And my sudden obsession with baseball, which I hadn't thought about since I was, like 11.
My hyper-focus on a child's game.
Which led me to start exploring another potential diagnosis.
Hyper-focus was one characteristic of the Autism Spectrum...
I ended going to see an Autism Spectrum specialist who mostly worked with children. I never did get a formal diagnosis from her, but I stopped going after 10 or so sessions because I just got the sense that...
That wasn't it.
By July 2004, I was back in therapy, this time with another therapist.
By that point, my 7th or 8th.
I don't know exactly when I started up with her, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was during the Summer or before, when the weather started to warm up.
Because that was my pattern.
When I would start to struggle.
When the weather would start to really warm up. And the Summer. And around the 4th of July.
Something was going on, especially during the Summer, but I had no idea what it was.
And then, during the Fall of 2004 and Winter of 2005, I got my first clue.
My wife and I was faithful watchers of Law & Order and, in October 2004, and again in the Winter or Spring of 2005, an episode named Eosphoros aired.
An episode involving panic attacks.
In that episode, which involves a kidnapping, the detectives commented that people often have panic attacks when taken back to a place where something bad happened. That didn't register with me at the time but, for some reason — perhaps hearing it again, especially after having another panic attack in the context of first confession — it stuck with me.
It got me wondering.
However, I was still fighting the idea that it could be related to my experiences with Fr. Valentine.
Because of what Bishop Dolan had told me.
That nothing happened.
I know for a fact that, as of May 2011, I still didn't understand the connection.
That's because I know that, during my meeting with the Review Team from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, I mentioned the Eosphoros episode, but not in a way that made any sense.
Because of, you know, Jesus and that whole thing, I remember I just kind of blurted it out — almost, suddenly vomited it up — dumping it on the table, disjointed, disconnected, I suspect in the hope that someone would pick it up and look at it, more closely.
And tell me what it meant.
I think I hoped they would tell me what it meant.
What I KNEW it meant.
What I FEARED it meant.
And/Because of what it said about me.
But, of course, they didn't.
They just left it lying there and didn't even react to it.
I think my talking about it was subconsciously prompted by my panic attacks — I'd had two more panic attacks, again during Face To Face confession, in December 2008 and April 2010, while on ACTS retreats — but I know it wasn't a coherent thought.
I just mentioned it.
Threw it out there.
Trusting the experts of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to tell me what it meant.
Speaking of the Review Team from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and as I'll discuss at length elsewhere, my 2011 meeting with them featured on of the strangest — most disorienting — exchanges I've ever had.
First, I told them about the memories I have. Generally, the stuff I've talked about before. Face To Face Confession, Risk & Pizza Party, Special Training, and the Mud Cave Trip.
To that I added another memory, which I did NOT discuss with then Bishop and now Cardinal Dolan, when I talked to him and the "independent" psychologist in early March 2002, which was Wrestling; something that probably happened during the Risk & Pizza Party, but I didn't know that that the time. What I did know — what I remembered — was wrestling with other guys and then doing something wrong and Valentine taking over to show us how to do it right.
And his hand "slipping."
And his touching me.
Over and over again.
At which point, the members of the Review Team from the Archdiocese of St. Louis said to me...
When did you talk to Bishop/Cardinal Dolan? Because we have no record of any such conversation.
Which just stunned me.
And confused the hell out of me.
I just stared at them.
For several seconds.
Holy crap, had that actually happened? Or had I just imagined it?
Wait, but I could — and still can — remember where I was standing when I took the call and realized I was talking to Bishop Dolan.
And he remembered me!
And then I went from the kitchen and into the dining room, where I kind of paced around, doing loops at the North end of the table.
And, I could — and still can — remember what the office of the female psychologist looked like; oriented East-West, in a lower level, with a dark entrance and a window, with the door in the West part of the room and her sitting in her desk in the East end of the room. And I was sitting in a leather chair across the desk from her, which was a slightly unusual set-up for a therapy session.
But the Review Team had NO idea what I was talking about.
As I've said before, their reaction to my story about talking to Cardinal Dolan and the psychologist shook me enough that, after the meeting with the Review Team adjourned, I jumped in my car and drove to Downtown Clayton, intent on finding the office where we met.
But I couldn't.
It had been nine years, and things were a bit different, but I couldn't find the building.
I drove up and down the street, past where I remembered it, over and over again. And then I tried the block to the South, but I immediately knew that wasn't where it was.
I had turned Left and not Right...
In fact, it wouldn't be until January 4, 2017 that I was able to see the building that was right in front of my face, and that I drove past countless times.
More than a hundred.
Without being able to see it.
What's the big deal about abuse? And being a survivor?
To a large degree, it's what happens if you can't escape; if you have to just sit there and endure it.
As I did.
That forces you to disconnect from your body, and flee into your mind, creating a perpetual state of disconnection from the world.
And which makes you extremely vulnerable to shunning and other socially isolating actions.
When people and organizations TREAT you like you don't exist, you can very easily FEEL like you don't exist. And question your hold on reality.
As happened in January 2014, when the Archdiocese of St. Louis published the matrix.
I've already mentioned the story at a high level; in January 2014, the Archdiocese of St. Louis, under court order as a result of civil litigation, produced a spreadsheet listing (anonymized) abusers and all the allegations that had been made against them. When that spreadsheet came out, I eagerly opened the file and figured out who my abuser, Fr. LeRoy Valentine was.
But there was a problem.
While I found the line representing Valentine, there wasn't an entry that corresponded to my allegation.
In fact, and as I came to realize, there weren't any allegations, that weren't obviously baseless, involving Valentine from before 1982.
Yes, there was one allegation from 1973-1974, that was marked as unsubstantiated, but Valentine would have been in the seminary or even high school, so even I couldn't see how that could be credible.
Of course, little did I know...
What struck, and confused, me is that there was NOTHING from Father Valentine's time at Immacolata or Mary Queen of Peace, the next parish Valentine was sent to, and only for one year and, coincidentally, my current parish.
Apparently, and according to the matrix, the Archdiocese of St. Louis believed that Father LeRoy Valentine didn't start acting out until several years into his priesthood.
I found that hard to believe.
Logic, and the way abuse seems to work, suggests that, if something happened to me, it probably happened to someone. Especially since the guys who Valentine got in 1982 were raped.
Where was the gradual build-up?
The sexual exploitation and abuse that seems to proceed assault?
Over the years, since I've gone public, I've been contacted by numerous survivors, their friends, and families. While some of those stories of abuse happened after 1982, half of the guys told me stories of things that happened at Immacolata.
And some told me they reported their abuse to the Archdiocese of St. Louis, either in 2002 or later.
So, what was it about 1982 that was so important?
It took me several years, but it eventually hit me.
My friend the cardinal.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan.
What if what I was seeing was an effort to protect then Father and now Cardinal Dolan?
To insulate him from the sex abuse crisis.
By hiding his connection to a known abuser.
Sure, that would be perjury, but what are man's laws next to God's church?
THE original, and only legitimate, Church of Jesus Christ.
(Which is how the Catholic Church thinks of itself.)
And, to the point of the crisis and investigations and funny business, here's a thought that has struck, and stuck with, me in the past year or so.
Why was Bishop Dolan asked — ALLOWED — by then Archbishop and now Cardinal Justin Rigali to investigate incidents that he himself was involved with?
While Bishop Dolan was the Vicar for Priests, and responsible for the priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, if Archbishop Rigali was hoping to get an accurate sense of what Father Valentine had done, at Immacolata and elsewhere, then why was Bishop Dolan, who was potentially implicated in the events, asked — hell, ALLOWED — to investigate misdeeds, if not crimes, that he himself may have been involved in, if not covered up?
I've said previously that it encouraged me to hear from Bishop Dolan, in large part because I knew he knew the situation and all the players. However, from the standpoint of getting to the truth, that was an absolutely irresponsible thing for now Cardinal Justin Rigali to have done.
Unless uncovering the truth was NOT the goal.
All of which goes to how the Catholic Church investigates itself and the conclusions that can — actually — be reasonably drawn from those investigations.
I spent Easter 2021 as I usually do.
Because of my efforts to try to hold the Archdiocese of St. Louis accountable for what was done to me and us, I'm being shunned by the vast majority of my friends and family, in part because of the Smear Campaign that is being waged against me, still, despite VOS ESTIS, Pope Francis' bill of rights for survivors.
I also haven't been able to attend mass since Easter 2014 when I had a significant flashback.
So what I do around Easter is I make a sign and go down to the Cathedral Basilica of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, before, during, and after mass.
And I stand vigil.
As I'm doing in the picture that serves as the cover art for this podcast.
CREDIT: Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
To be clear, I don't protest or demonstrate or anything like that.
I stand vigil.
I don't say anything.
I don't speak unless I'm spoken to.
And, this year, I went to the Good Friday service to stand vigil. For the survivors who didn't; and those who can't speak up for themselves.
And, like a fool, I asked for a sign.
A sign that I was doing the right thing. That this is necessary. Maybe even important.
And, oh man...
I had been standing for a few minutes when the rightmost door opened up partially and a head popped up. Then another. Then another.
It was like the, "Hello, Hello, Hello," bit that the Three Stooges used to do.
Except it was anything but amusing.
One of the faces belonged to an usher, docent, or someone similar. And he threw me this look. A nasty look.
The second face belonged to a rent a cop; a private security guy. Who I don't think had a gun, but still...
And the third face belonged to a city cop and, oh shit, he's walking over towards me.
I've done this — standing vigil, out in front of the Cathedral Basilica — something like 20 times before, and the only time a cop engaged with me previously was the very first time. I let him know I wasn't planning on leaving my place at the foot of the steps, in public land on the sidewalk, and he wished me well and went back inside the New Cathedral.
Since then, the cops have just left me alone.
We basically have an understanding.
But now, this cop is walking over to me. With purpose. I tried to think if I'd seen any signs or heard anything about the sidewalk law changing, and I hadn't, so I decided to just stand my ground.
And put a smile on my face.
And, rather than recording this — as occurred to me — keep both hands on the sign I'm holding.
Where he can see them.
I can't tell you exactly what he told me — I was freaked out, my heart POUNDING in my ears, because this had never happened before — but he said something to the effect of...
As long as you stay on the sidewalk, you're fine.
Which I already knew.
And he knew I knew.
And I knew he knew.
Because he was the cop who tended to work security and, in fact, was the one who came over to me on the day of the Mass of Reparation, when I first stood vigil. And who had seen me stand vigil, in my spot, countless times.
I told him I knew that, and that I was just going to stand there.
But, inside, I was agitated.
Why, this time, did he come over to me? Because the guy from the Archdiocese of St. Louis had asked him to? Told him to?
Because they were trying to intimidate me?
Because they were feeling emboldened?
That's how it felt.
And why did the cop make a point of showing me his gun; of turning so that his gun, and his two extra clips, were right there in my face?
I couldn't help but wonder if this new, more aggressive stance was being driven by our new archbishop, Archbishop Rozanski, who I know had seen me standing vigil before — as I had at both the announcement of his appointment and his installation — and had refused to so much as look at me.
All of which made it NECESSARY that I return the next night, for the Easter Vigil, which ended up bringing to mind, but surpassing, the indifference of the Mass of Reparation, the event chronicled by the cover art for this podcast.
The Easter Vigil was scheduled to start at 8PM, so I showed up at 7:30 and took my usual spot. As soon as I did, one of the guys who works at the Cathedral Basilica — and who I've seen, agitated, staring and glaring at me, from inside the cathedral — came out and started setting something up, right in front of me, maybe 15 feet away, at the top of the stairs at whose base I was standing.
Eventually, it became clear that it was an alcohol fueled fire pit.
And, of course, while he looked TOWARDS me a couple of times, while setting everything up, he never looked AT me. Which started to get absurd because I was RIGHT THERE, maybe 15 feet from him, and he had to look at me to walk towards and set up the fire pit.
Which of course was a problem for me because it started to make me feel like I didn't exist.
And then three ushers came out of the doors with big, plastic bins which contained something, but I couldn't tell what. Were they planning on holding a reception after the vigil?
Time passed and people walked up the stairs and into the Cathedral Basilica, some looking at the sign I was holding, but most making a point of ignoring me.
And, I should mention, one of the worst parts of standing vigil as I do is my treatment by the sisters.
Who always ignore me.
Act like I don't exist.
That includes the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Theresa's order, who wear the distinctive pure white robes with blue stripes. And in whose orphanages and homes for the dying I've worked while in Haiti.
But they've obviously been told that even LOOKING at a survivor is unacceptable. Which feels less like Jesus and more like the other guy...
Now it's getting dark, but I continue to stand there. Standing vigil. Holding my sign. Thinking about the others.
And now the doors of the New Cathedral are opening, and people are coming out towards me, but stopping short.
They've grabbed what look like might be candles out of the three big, plastic bins. And then they form a broken circle around the fire pit, clustering to my left and right.
And then a priest — probably a monsignor, given the way he's dressed — walks out and stands in front of me. He's not DIRECTLY in front of me, but at my 11:30.
And he's made no attempt to look at or acknowledge me.
He's standing on the plaza, above me, dressed in his priestly garb.
With his back to me.
Just like on the day of the Mass of Reparation.
Are they going to do it again?
Treat me like I don't exist.
And, as I think this, my heart starts racing.
It feels like — maybe it starts out as — excitement, due to the realization of what's happening, but it quickly morphs into a panic attack.
Because, the more people who come out, and circle around the fire pit, and make a point of ignoring me, the more I feel like I'm disappearing.
Like I don't exist.
As on the worst day.
When, with no chance of escaping, I escaped — disappeared — into myself.
Which is what's happening, now.
And there's the cop, to my left, taking up a position at my 9:30. And there's an usher behind me, over my left shoulder. And, for whatever reason, I DO NOT like people getting behind me.
It just makes everything worse.
Now, all the people have come out, and the monsignor has moved to the left, opening up a big gap in front of me, through which I can see what looks like a procession.
The lights of candles bouncing as the men holding them take one step after another. They descend the steps and take up positions to the left and right.
Now the archbishop is coming down the stairs, dressed in golden robes, and followed by more priests, one of whom is holding an enormous candle, and the archbishop walks around the fire pit and takes up a position DIRECTLY in front of me, and less than 10 feet from me.
With his back to me.
But something's not right; that won't do.
So one of the guys who is directing traffic tells the archbishop's two assistants, I think the guy who holds his hat and the other guy who holds his staff, to move.
To stand directly in front of me.
Between the archbishop and me.
So all I can see are their asses.
That forces me to look around and I notice that, to my right, a father is holding in his arms, and on his left side, a young girl with blond hair, who is maybe three, and is dressed in an off-white dress and white tights.
Just like we used to dress my daughters.
And she's looking at me. Trying to figure out what's going on.
Who is that man? What does his sign say?
"WHO IS THAT MAN?" she shout whispers to her father.
She SEES me.
Which brings me back.
From where I was.
Which is nowhere.
SHE can see what's going on, and she doesn't like it. It's weird. And, even though her dad keeps ignoring her and shushing her, she keeps looking at me.
"Thanks, kid," I think. "Thanks for seeing me."
You can see the scene in the photograph above, which I took while backing away from my typical spot — X marks the spot where I stand, on the sidewalk in front of the Cathedral Basilica — in order to capture the moment, in all its insanity.
And then it's over.
Everybody follows the archbishop back into the Cathedral Basilica for the service, ignoring me still.
Except for one person — a mom with a newborn slung across her chest — who says a few words of thanks, in appreciation for her four sons, and apology, to me.
Thank God for moms.
Seriously, they're the church's only hope.
Because they won't allow their kids to be sacrificed as we were.
While I like to stand a silent vigil, out front, during mass, I didn't last very long this time.
The tension and the adrenaline got to me and my legs and my back are solid masses of contracted muscles, and I need to get moving before I collapse.
As I stretch out my legs and back, and walk to my car, I start to laugh.
At the insanity of it all.
The treating me like I don't exist.
AT THE EASTER FREAKING VIGIL.
How twisted was that?
I guess intended to send a message to the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis? The people at the Easter Vigil?
That this is what survivors get?
That we don't matter?
That we don't even EXIST?
And that, regardless of the intent, triggered a dissociative episode in me.
And, disturbingly, was all done out in the open. Without fear of consequence. Or accountability.
But which, I suspect, goes to Dave Glover's question.
So here's what I don't understand. If it's pretty common knowledge that this guy did it, why are you singled out as, "But I bet this kid's lying?"
As a survivor, I'm all to familiar with Fear masquerading as Anger. It's what I experienced in the Summer of 2008, when my family was out of town. Caused, I guess, by the fact that, for the first time, I was unable to be there to protect them.
And now, I'm forty years old and I've got this stuff that's happening to me. How I'm disintegrating. And, on the other hand, I've got then Bishop and now Cardinal Dolan's booming voice, echoing in my head.
And THAT's the problem.
Why am I singled out, now?
Because I'm there.
And what's a little shunning when the Archdiocese of St. Louis is willing to commit perjury? And falsely accuse me of having made Terroristic Threats? And wage a Smear Campaign against me?
All to protect Cardinal Dolan.
Which is the answer to Dave Glover's question.
But from what?
At a minimum, there's Dolan's proximity to an admitted abuser with multiple allegations. The fact that he lived and worked with Fr. LeRoy Valentine, for two years, from 1977 to 1979. And the implausibility that Dolan didn't see or know ANYTHING.
So it makes a primitive sense for the Archdiocese of St. Louis to tell people the same thing Dolan told me.
All right. Move on. Nothing to see here.
But, I know proximity isn't the whole story.
Because the reaction I'm seeing — what I'm experiencing — is out of proportion to that.
To mere proximity.
As for what exactly the Archdiocese of St. Louis is hiding? Beyond Dolan's proximity to a known abuser?
What's the deep, dark secret?
I have my suspicions — and some evidence — and I WILL find out exactly what is going on.
And not just want, but WANT.
In all caps.
Like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
That's the word that keeps coming back to me.
Because too many Catholics seem to be acting, with regard to the sex abuse crisis, according to how they WANT things to be.
And not how they ARE.
The problem, of course, is that the way you WANT the world to be is irrelevant; all we have is the world as it IS.
As I know all too well.
I didn't WANT to be sexually exploited, abused, and assaulted — raped — by Father LeRoy Valentine when I was a child.
But I was.
Just as it's a fact that the much beloved Cardinal Timothy Dolan saw, and turned a blind eye to, the testing and grooming, and the sexual exploitation and abuse, at least, of children.
How could this be true?
Again, remember that the way you WANT the world to be is irrelevant.
All we have is what happened.
To a degree, I suspect that, like the people of the Nazi era, Dolan was just following orders.
As he swore an oath to do.
(Which of course raises the question of why anybody would swear an oath that puts a man and an institution before Christ, but that's a bigger question for another time.)
I'd like to think — I WANT it to be the case — that my friend Father Dolan saw things he didn't like and reported them to Monsignor Flavin only to be ordered, as Sister Helen was, to mind his own business.
However, regardless of what happened, exactly, the reality is that, ultimately, Dolan obeyed what would sure seem like an immoral or illegal order.
So how do you DO that?
I have to believe because there were benefits to just following orders.
Because it established you as a team player. As a loyal member of the church.
And, I know that, above all else, in the minds of the members of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, at least, what mattered, and still matters, most is the church.
More than any one person.
Even a child.
Sacrifices must be made.
For the greater good.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
Or the one.
That makes a certain logical sense, but it's inconsistent with everything Jesus Christ said and did.
That's one way to describe my case against Cardinal Dolan.
But it's not without evidence.
Evidence you can verify yourself.
First, there's the matrix and my absence from it.
If nothing happened, and there's nothing to hide, then why am I being hidden? Excluded from the matrix? Still. Despite my alerting the Archdiocese of St. Louis to the existence of a problem with their records in May 2011, giving them plenty of time to make sure the matrix was accurate by January 2014, when they submitted it to the court.
Yet the matrix STILL wasn't accurate.
And I'm not the only person missing from the matrix. There's at least one other guy — that I know of — who was abused by Fr. Valentine at Immacolata, at the same time now Cardinal Dolan was there, and who reach out to then Bishop Dolan, in late March 2002, who is also missing.
See for yourself.
My abuser, Fr. LeRoy Valentine, is Accused Individual #107 in the matrix. We know that's Valentine because of the three simultaneous allegations, which are the Scorfina brothers.
But there's no row corresponding to the call I made in EARLY March 2002 under Accused Individual #107. And no row corresponding to the other survivor, who I know personally, who told me he called in at the END of March 2002.
So that's two missing rows.
And, bigger picture, there are no allegations, in fact, from 1977 to 1979, when Father LeRoy Valentine and Father Timothy Dolan overlapped at Immacolata. Which is weird because of what Valentine was doing during that time.
During the whole time he was at Immacolata from the Fall of 1977 until the Spring of 1981.
How he was acting.
And how it was freaking out the moms of the parish.
And Sister Helen.
And, aside from the matter that perjury — lying to the court — is a crime, why WOULDN'T the Archdiocese of St. Louis name me in the matrix? If, as they said in April 2018, that they didn't believe me? That my story changed multiple times.
Why NOT list me, as a win for the good guys?
Because they're trying to protect Cardinal Dolan?
To hide things? Connections?
To shape a narrative? That my abuser didn't start acting out until 1982, well after Valentine and Dolan were together at Immacolata from 1977 to 1979. Meaning that Dolan COULDN'T have seen anything.
Because there was nothing to see?
Which, I suspect, also goes to Dave Glover's question.
So here's what I don't understand. If it's pretty common knowledge that this guy did it, why are you singled out as, "But I bet this kid's lying?"
Why am I being singled out?
Because, I suspect, I'm alledging that Fr. LeRoy Valentine started abusing during the time that he and then Father and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan were together at Immacolata, from 1977 to 1979, and not only in 1982, when Dolan had moved on to another posting.
Which ties Cardinal Dolan not just to the cover up but to the crime itself.
Second, that would help to explain why the Attorney General of Missouri killed the investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Louis as soon as I — metaphorically speaking — told them where the bodies were buried?
When I told them EXACTLY what to look for and where.
The Kuhnert memo.
The memo corresponding to my call in March 2002.
Whose presence — or absense — would be telling.
In fact, in July 2019, right before the investiation was wrapped up, I told a team from the Missouri Attorney General's office that if they wanted to know if the Archdiocese of St. Louis was being above board with them, all they had to do was look for a couple of documents in a couple of files.
But, rather than looking for those documents in those files, the investigation instead was killed.
Almost as if the — Catholic — Attorney General of the state of Missouri, Eric Schmitt, didn't WANT to know.
Third, if nothing happened, then why my continued shunning by the Archdiocese of St. Louis and my archbishop, Mitchell Rozanski? Despite the signing of Vos Estis Lux Mundi, the Pope's bill of rights for survivors.
Why will my archbishop only show me his back? As he did the day AFTER the Easter Vigil, at the Easter Sunday mass.
As the photograph above shows?
Why has he never once come over to talk to me?
Or even look at me?
Unlike his assistants, who I know see me — in the photographs I've learned to take, because people won't believe me otherwise, I often catch them throwing glimpses at me — and who I can't help but feel for.
What are they learning?
What the HELL have they gotten themselves into?
Which, I can only hope, is the thought that crossed the mind of Dolan when he first saw and, I can only hope, reported what he was seeing.
But, regardless of what Dolan did or did NOT do in response to what he was seeing, nothing changed for us.
The older guys were abuse by Father Valentine.
And then I was abused.
In choosing to side with the church over children, and Christ, then Father and now Cardinal Dolan chose...
Sure, it likely made sense for his career.
But what about us?
Which goes to the larger, and scarier, problem of the men who saw and turned a blind eye to sexual exploitation and abuse in the late 1970s and early 1980s as priests, and then helped cover things up in 2002.
They are now running the Catholic Church.
And seem to have recruited and appointed bishops who will protect the church.
By, among other things, shunning survivors.
And refusing to help us.
Despite Vos Estis Lux Mundi, the Pope's bill of rights for survivors.
I know Catholics don't WANT this to be true, but the way you WANT the world to be is irrelevant.
All that we have is the world as it is.
And the evidence of what's going on.
As for why I'm doing all of this, why I think it's important, and why I won't just let the matter go, remember that Cardinal Timothy Dolan is the Archbishop of New York and, as such, is responsible for nearly a thousand priests. It's simply not safe — for children, at least — for a man who could see and turn a blind eye to my and our sexual abuse as children to be in charge of priests.
What does he believe?
About the importance of the church relative to the welfare of children?
I'll be damned if I allow what happen to me to happen to anyone else, so I won't stop until Cardinal Dolan is exposed and removed from any position where he can continue to put the church before children.
Next time on Sacrificed, the title of this podcast and its origin.
And, the smoking gun.
Which, I suspect, is the bigger reason for the Archdiocese of St. Louis' extreme reaction to my efforts and me.
Why I use the term, Sacrificed.
And why I think it's accurate.
The evidence I have in my possession.
And what it suggests.
Finally, and again, if you'd like to — or would rather — read what I have to say, go to chrisoleary dot com slash sacrificed. Those pieces also include photographs and videos that document what happened to me, including at the Easter Vigil and, I hope, help to prove my words and story.
If you'd like to help support my efforts to create this podcast, and expose the Abuse of the Abused by the Catholic Church, as well as The Program — or to just help me to eat and pay my bills while I'm spending my time on this project — I've set up a GoFundMe...