|ChrisOLeary.com > Sacrificed > The Smoking Gun|
I first went public, as a survivor of the Catholic sex abuse crisis, three years ago, at the end of April 2018, in an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch by Aisha Sultan entitled, "Priest sex abuse survivor says trauma lingers." Ever since — every month or two — I've been contacted by survivors, their friends, or family members.
While their stories are universally horrific and heart-breaking, the worst part — but also the most important part — is what was triggered by a conversation that happened in the middle of the Summer of 2019.
And what it led me to discover.
Because of the shunning I experienced in September 2018, captured by the picture that serves as the cover art for this podcast...
CREDIT: Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
...from that point on, I couldn't help but think about what it might mean.
The arrogance and callous indifference was incredible.
And, holy crap, out in the open, for all to see.
Which was, stunning.
It wasn't just the PROBLEM that indifference posed for survivors like me, who were trying to get help, but the THREAT it meant faced innocent children.
Despite 2002, the Dallas Charter, SPOTLIGHT, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, VOS ESTIS, and everything.
If the Archdiocese of St. Louis could do this to me, out in the open, turning their backs to, and ignoring, a survivor, at the freaking Mass of Reparation for the sex abuse crisis, what else could they do?
As a result, I became increasingly active and outspoken as 2018 turned into 2019.
And, as I watched the movie SPOTLIGHT for the first time, right before New Years 2018-2019, and it was ALL TOO familiar, it goaded me into further action.
And the more people who contacted me, as a result of what I was doing, the more I was emboldened to speak up and out, leading even MORE people to contact me.
Culminating with a fateful message I received on July 31, 2019.
As for why it happened then, on that day, I assume it was because the Archdiocese of St. Louis had released its list of Archdiocesan Clergy with Substantiated Allegations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor just a few days prior, on July 26, 2019. That had people thinking and talking about the Catholic sex abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
For legal reasons — slander and libel and the fact that this is, technically, hearsay — and also because it's not my story to tell, I have to be careful with this part of the story.
However, and as others have reminded me, it's important.
And I have no reason to doubt what I was told.
Which, in sum, concerns the alleged sexual abuse of a child by a then diocesan priest who would rise through the ranks of the Catholic Church, eventually becoming a Bishop.
Which he remains to this day.
A member, in good standing, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The mere fact that such a man — and, in fact, and as I would learn, around the same time, TWO such men — could be members, much less members in good standing, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, hints at the underlying level of dysfunction, and the old school, persisting presence of Satan, within the USCCB and the Catholic Church.
In the United States, at least.
It all began in the middle of the afternoon on July 31, 2019, when I received a message from a woman, a friend of a friend, who I didn't know, and who I'll call "The Wife," who said...
Hi Chris. I saw what I think may have been your response to...
For legal reasons, let's call him "Bishop X."
(Bishop X) has been good family friends with my husband and his family since my husband was 12 and he was at (Parish Y).
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.
So there I am, in late July 2019, trying to process a story I've just been told.
Out of the blue.
But not entirely unexpectedly.
A story that, as I think about it, was likely prompted by an expression of frustration I had made, about my treatment by Bishop X, to some Catholic friends. That they had re-sent to their friends.
Including The Wife.
A story that, to be clear, wasn't told in a way that was mean-spirited or gossipy. Instead, The Wife had contacted me as a woman who had some questions. About her husband. And someone her husband knew. A bishop. Who seemed a bit off. An off-ness that had been noticed by the woman's mother, who knew him independently.
And The Wife had come to me, someone who seemed to know something about both abuse and Bishop X, in search of answers, aware of and concerned about, the toll sexual abuse can take on innocent children.
And the adults they will become.
Especially when it's perpetrated by beloved and trusted members of the clergy.
The Wife told me...
(Bishop X) has been good family friends with my husband and his family since my husband was 12 and he was at (Parish Y).
As I'll discuss more in a bit, the first line was a fairly common scenario and immediately made sense to me. This "family priest" thing happens all the time, including in my own family.
I didn't know how to respond to the second part — given my experience with my family being completely clueless about what was being done to me, how in the world does someone come to sense or think THAT — so I just let it lie.
Focusing on the third line, the question of The Wife to me, I let her know I'd been abused by someone else and had only gone to Bishop X for help; help getting help from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
I hoped that maybe Bishop X could convince the Archdiocese of St. Louis to help me.
In that time, I hadn't spent a lot of time talking to Bishop X, but I did spend enough time to feel justified in saying...
There's obviously something wrong with (Bishop X).
A comment prompted by a sense that Bishop X was...
That's the best way to put it.
Like Monsignor Richard Hanneke, who I went to for help in 2013, after years of frustration at the hands of Deacon "Runaround" Phil Hengen, Bishop X was sincere and contrite and buddy buddy when I initially asked for his help. But then, when he called me back, was cold as ice.
To which The Wife replied that her Mom knew Bishop X independently, from way back when, saying...
...everyone always dreaded when (Bishop X) was there. Such an arrogant and narcissistic man.
Bishop X, apparently, was WELL known to The Wife's mother.
Who I'll call The Mother In Law.
Bishop X, who the Mother In Law knew from back when he was just Father X, I guess, was a jerk.
Enough of a jerk that The Mother In Law ALREADY had a bad feeling about Bishop X.
And, then, when The Mother In Law's daughter — The Wife — MARRIED INTO the family for whom Bishop X was the other grandmother's "pet" priest, and The Mother In Law had the chance to get to know the husband of The Wife — let's call him The Son In Law — and observe the dynamics of his family, and their interactions with Bishop X, The Mother In Law sensed there was something weird about the relationship between Bishop X and The Son In Law.
And, before I go on, I should again mention that this family or "pet" priest thing happens ALL the time in Catholic families, in St. Louis at least. Moms will befriend and de facto adopt parish priests — often, out of sympathy, because priests can live lonely lives, but also for status reasons — and, before you know it, that priest will start being invited to family events, holiday functions, and holding private Christenings and even masses.
In fact, one of my aunts had just such a relationship with a priest; he swam in their pool and was always holding private masses at their house. He was a good guy. Practically part of the family.
And the priest who was there when I had my third panic attack during (Face To Face) confession, while making my first ACTS retreat, in December 2008.
But, anyway, I found it perfectly plausible that one grandmother could, over time, observe and develop a feeling about the other grandmother's "pet" priest, based on how that priest interacts with their shared sons, daughters, and grandchildren at baptisms, birthday parties, and that kind of thing.
The Wife then went on...
Thank you! I have no concrete evidence. My mom is convinced though and my husband will never admit if true. My kids will never be allowed around him again though...
So, again, the scenario is a wife has been told this mind-blowing stuff by her mom — how her mom suspects the wife's husband my have been acused by the family priest — and she's talking to me, a survivor, wjo has some knowledge of that man, wanting to know if what she's describing makes sense.
If it's plausible.
Which I thought it was.
The Wife then gave me a bit more detail about how she had come to find me...
We have a mutual friend...
...and why she was reaching out...
She feels my husband hides certain things in childhood, wants to keep “things in the family”, not talk about things.
When I mentioned that abuse tends to take an obvious toll on people — that I had a nervous breakdown, went bankrupt, and was divorced — and suggested that, if her husband had indeed been abused, he would likely have shown some aftereffect, like that, The Wife disclosed that...
(Her husband) was drinking too much, had a breakdown years ago, but that may have been financially caused.
All of which STUNNED me, given it involved a now Catholic bishop but, sadly, didn't SURPRISE me, given what I knew about my friend the cardinal and three OTHER cardinals.
And not the baseball kind.
It also didn't surprise me because it jibed with something I'd been told about another Catholic bishop — let's call him Bishop Z — by a high school classmate, just a few weeks prior, at one of the semi-annual, impromptu class reunion lunches that my class does; he told me that, like me and one other guy, at least, had been brought up to the room, in the rectory, of a man who, at the time, was a diocesan priest.
And was now a bishop.
I'd known the hierarchy of the Catholic Church was full of men like my friend the cardinal, who saw and turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children, like me, and then did worse to us in 2002. But it was something else entirely to learn, in short succession, that two of the bishops in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops were themselves ABUSERS.
That was an entirely new level of depravity.
The Wife then went on, giving some details about her husband's story...
(Bishop X) was at my husbands family home for dinner at least once a week when he was in grade school. They still text and talk consistently. I never thought much about it until my mom brought it up several times
What stood out to me about that story was the idea that abusive priests would get at kids by going over to homes for dinner. Homes with a missing, absent, or distracted dad. Something I know my abuser also did. For example, I know of one family my abuser spent a lot of time with, who didn't have a dad in the house, and whose kids were abused.
But, supposedly, not by my abuser.
That led me to ask about the family of The Wife's husband; if the dad was there or not, given my abuser's habit of targeting families in which the dad was either absent or distracted. To which she replied...
No, dad was there, but dad was dominated by his wife who loves any sort of prominence that having someone from the church to her house brings. She still has him over when he’s in town
And then she disclosed a terrible, but sadly all too common fact...
Yes, my husband had 2 friends commit suicide because of abuse.
As I've said, I already knew of at least three guys who were dead as a result of having been abused, so that brings that terrible count to five.
I asked The Wife if her husband had ever said anything, to which The Wife replied...
(The Husband) would never admit, he idolizes him
That word struck me, and stuck with me, because it's exactly how I felt about my abuser, Fr. LeRoy Valentine.
I idolized him.
He was one of my favorite people in the world. Not just because of who he was, but because of how he made me feel.
Which is why I simply couldn't PROCESS what I'd learned about Fr. V in early March 2002, reading the New York Times piece that discussed the allegations against him. It's a trite phrase, but saying, "It didn't compute," isn't a terrible way of putting it.
It was so bad — so devastating — that I didn't feel ANYTHING.
I felt NOTHING.
Which, of course, and as I've learned over the years, is something.
I was just blank.
Not even numb.
So there I was, on the one hand, feeling terrible for the husband and, on the other hand, feeling better about myself, because it clearly wasn't that I was just stupid or naive or foolish.
The same exact thing had happened to other guys.
And, as I'm thinking about and trying to work through and process all this, The Wife drops a bombshell.
(Bishop X) has been sending us money for years, I now know why
(Bishop X) has been sending us money for years, I now know why
Needless to say, I tried to convince The Wife that her husband needed to come forward, at least to the church.
What was Bishop X doing when presented with allegations of abuse? Did his being an abuser himself influence his decision-making?
How could it NOT?
And how many other victims could there be? Victims who needed help.
I was so bothered by this thought that, that same day, I e-mailed a number of people — contacts with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archdiocese of St. Louis, who I'd gotten to know over the year, as well as the Papal Nuncio — and let them know what I'd been told about Bishop X.
People I figured could get a message to the right people.
Assuming they cared.
All they would have to do to find out if what the woman had told me was true was audit Bishop X; look for a series of payments to a certain person — I could tell a forensic accountant the name — at least annually.
However, coming up on two years later, Bishop X is still in his position, so it would seem no such audit has been performed.
They simply don't WANT to know, I guess?
Don't think it's appropriate to even question a bishop? Who, as a diocesan priest, is alleged to have abused a child? And who is paying off at least one of his victims.
So what exactly has changed?
And why should anyone believe kids are safer in the Catholic Church?
What's more, everything I've said about there being at least one, by now known, because I reported them, abuser in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — and, according to another story I've been told, two, if you include Bishop Z — ISN'T EVEN THE WORST PART OF THE STORY.
Inspired in part by the movie SPOTLIGHT, at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, I decided to look into Bishop X's background.
His service history.
To see where Bishop X had been posted and when.
I don't know exactly what I was looking for. To a degree, and as I've done with my baseball stuff, I was just throwing stuff past my eyes, looking for patterns. Trying to seeing if anything stood out and/or overlapped or connected with anything else.
And I noticed something.
Which led me to again look into the service history of my abuser, Father LeRoy Valentine.
And them I found it.
Based off of a feeling I got because of the strength of the response of my archdiocese to my claims — the sense of a cover-up — as well as something my dad had once said, and something my lawyers had once said, I'd come to wonder if things were even worse than they seemed.
Organization in the form of a program to ordain, counsel, manage — and, what the hell, maybe even PROTECT — known abusers.
I smelled a cover-up.
Because the existence of the organization I was smelling would put my friend, the cardinal, at risk, because he couldn't help but have known about it.
By being at Immacolata, in the second half of the late 1970s, he was right in the middle of it.
At ground zero.
Which would justify the intensity of the response to my claims.
And, with just a bit of digging, I found a document that confirmed my worst fears.
In sum, it didn't just happen.
It wasn't just bad luck; It wasn't like being hit by lightning or bitten by a shark.
Rather, we were SACRIFICED.
Knowingly left to be abused by "troubled" men who were ordained and then managed and protected — CODDLED rather than EXPELLED — at the first sign of a problem.
A discovery which, like my original abuse, and then the abuse of the abused, was life-altering.
It stirred in me an old school sense of duty and responsibility — of OBLIGATION — to get to the bottom of the story and understand what happened and why and how.
And whether it can happen again.
All of which is why it's so hard for me to "just" move on.
How do you just move on from, and simply put down the burden of, a story like that of Bishop X?
And Bishop Z?
Much less what it led to?
When it leads to your discovering that you were knowingly SACRIFICED by people you knew, trusted, and loved? And who, you thought, loved you, too.
And how do you (just) move on, given that very little seems to have changed?
OK, let's slow down.
How did I come to this realization?
It's November 1st, 2019.
At 7:27 in the evening.
(I know the exact time because of the timestamp of the first of two screenshots I took.)
A couple months after I've learned about, and started digging into, the background and service history of Bishop X. In fits and starts, because it's all so terrible. It gives me headaches on top of my always there, PCS headaches. And I've come to realize the situation is FAR bigger and more twisted and more ORGANIZED than I ever imagined.
The day after Halloween, which I used to love because I'd get to take the kids around the neighborhood, trick or treating. But I'm alone and upset. PISSED. Because of freaking Fr. Valentine. And, as I've done with Bishop X, over the course of the Fall, I decide to try to do something productive; something to address the root cause of the problem.
To identify WHY what happened, happened.
And do something other than drink.
I've been watching the movie SPOTLIGHT again, over the course of the Fall of 2019, this time on repeat, and it's been giving me ideas about what to look for. And where. So I decide to take another crack at my own puzzle and start Googling around, looking for articles about Fr. Valentine that I haven't seen before.
Something I might have missed.
And, as I look at articles, it strikes me to do something that's normally a HUGE mistake.
I decide to read the comments.
Whenever an article comes out that discusses Fr. Valentine or the sex abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, I drop into the comments, leaving a note in case another survivor or family member, of Valentine or whoever, might want to reach out to me, connect, and share their story. And, on that day, it occurs to me that other survivors might be doing, and might have done, the same.
With only a little effort, I find this note in the comments of an article...
In 1975 when (Father LeRoy Valentine) was still a deacon he tried to molest me while parked in front of my parents house (he was dropping me off after a CYC event). The story is longer and complicated but what is nagging now is the desire to say I’m sorry to those who were abused after me.
And then I find a second, similar comment from the same person in the comments of another article...
(Fr. LeRoy Valentine) was a deacon at St. Margaret Mary in south St. Louis county - I was 15 yrs. old. He was taking me home when he parked in front of my and tried to molest me, 20 years later he performed a funeral mass I was attending. That was the next time I'd thought about it and I wish I hadn't.
I'd assumed I was probably one of the first people Fr. LeRoy Valentine had abused. That he got out of the seminary and THEN he started acting out.
But it seems like that wasn't the case.
And I realize that the line in matrix — the accusation against Valentine (Accused Individual #107) from 1973-1974, which was ruled "unsubstantiated" and that even I thought was impossible — suddenly MIGHT be plausible.
What ELSE is out there?
From early on?
So I go BACK into the history and service records of Bishop X. And that leads me BACK into the history and service records of my abuser, Father LeRoy Valentine.
While the movie SPOTLIGHT did the world a great service, it also created a HUGE problem, for survivors at least; the impression, among the lay press, at least, that ANYTHING related to the Catholic sex abuse crisis is now Old News.
That it was already covered, and exposed, by SPOTLIGHT.
An impression that, I suspect, is fed by the Catholic Church and its P.R. flacks and lay enablers.
An impression which couldn't be farther from the truth.
Among other things, and as I've already mentioned, there's the Abuse of the Abused.
But, too often, the legacy of SPOTLIGHT is that, from that moment on, it all but silenced survivors, like me, who are desperate to see our, not yet told, stories see the light.
Stories that, in my case, at least, started to come to life, and to pivot, on a cold day in late January 2020.
It's January 2020 and I've accumulated all this...
Which is absolutely WEIGHING on me.
BEGGING me to put it together.
To connect the dots.
I'd MUCH rather tell, and hand, my story to an independent, professional, investigative journalist, but they're not interested. Or, if they ARE interested, their EDITORS aren't. Or, if their editors ARE interested, their upper management or publisher isn't.
So I'm forced to become my own investigative reporter.
It's not something I'm trained, or particularly want, to do. And it's VERY difficult for me, given that I'm still dealing with headaches from Post Concussion Syndrome — from an August 2018 car accident in which I was rear-ended — ON TOP OF Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, and Complex PTSD.
But it's necessary.
And if Jesus Christ can do what he did, I can do this.
So here goes...
I've described and documented behavior by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, starting with the out in the open, unafraid of consequence or accountability, shunning visible in the cover art for this podcast.
CREDIT: Robert Cohen | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Behavior that I have come to believe, and that others — in my increasingly strong opinion, rightly — have also suggested indicates the presence of FEAR on the part of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
They seem absolutely terrified of me.
And my story.
And why do they think they have to DESTROY me?
And why, in the face of my presence, can't they even acknowledge my existence?
(Which, as an aside, is an absolute devastating thing to do to a survivor who's wrestling with Dissociative problems. It's not quite the movie Split bad but, as I'll discuss in an upcoming episode, it's something like that.)
It all feels like a tell.
But of what?
I don't know.
But it's not nothing.
I DO know that.
So here's a summary of what I've got, buzzing around in my head, as of January 2020.
First, I suspect that what I've learned, and what I had let the USCCB, the Vatican, and others know — in an effort to expose and force them to investigate and remove Bishop X, and maybe also Bishop Z, because of, you know, the whole Dallas Charter and Jesus thing — is contributing to their response to me. Rather than seeing me as a positive force who's helping them clean things up, I was instead working to spill the beans.
Unearthing things they wanted to stay buried.
Second, there's my dad's comment about our pastor, Monsignor Flavin, being good at working with "troubled" priests.
Priests who had "problems."
A comment that meant absolutely NOTHING to me, at the time.
It had no weight.
I asked it, innocuously, I think about the way a certain priest talked — a priest I had served for and liked, because he was nice and encouraging to serve for — and my dad's response made sense.
So that was that.
Something like that.
But it stuck with me, still.
And now, given what I know about what had really happened at Immacolata — what my friend the cardinal did and did NOT do in the face of my and our abuse by Fr. Valentine — I'm wondering what it means.
And, man, the word "troubled."
Which I remember clearly.
And which stood out.
What the HELL does that mean?
Third, just as the movie Concussion helped catalyze my thinking when it came to my baseball stuff in 2016, in the second half of 2019 I was watching the movie SPOTLIGHT.
A bit obsessively.
And a couple parts were gnawing at me.
Though it may be completely made up, the dynamic between the police and the church made sense. How the Boston Police department — full of loyal Catholics, presumably — could have helped the church.
By keeping everything quiet.
It was EXACTLY what the press in St. Louis and, more importantly, multiple attornies general of the state of Missouri, and even the FBI, were doing.
And then there was the line...
Now Sheila, you know what good work the church does in the community.
...spoken by a senior member of the Archdiocese of Boston, likely a monsignor or auxiliary bishop, if not the archbishop himself, and which was designed to keep the mother quiet.
And which DIRECTLY paralleled — so accurately and completely echoed — something Sister Helen had said when I'd talked to her a year prior...
But the church does so much good...
She kept repeating it during our meeting.
But the church does so much good...
Like a mantra.
But the church does so much good...
And thene there was the other thing Sr. Helen had said, dismissively, that stuck with me...
I didn't know anything...
Was she channeling Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes?
I know nothing. I see nothing.
Regardless, Sr. Helen had obviously been given the same talk that the member of the Catholic hierarchy gave the mom of the abused boys in the movie SPOTLIGHT. And it seemed to serve as her justification for not wanting to get involved in helping me to expose what happened; what was done, and what was allowed to be done, to us.
And, when I found them, they absolutely crushed me...
While Geoghan was assigned to Blessed Sacrament, Anthony Benzevich allegedly told church officials that the junior priest was observed bringing boys into his bedroom.
Bringing boys into his bedroom.
The same thing Fr. Valentine did to me. And to at least one other guy at Immacolata, whose DM I discussed in the previous episode, with respect to my friend the cardinal...
Hello Chris my name is _____, I graduated from Immacolata in ____, 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, Father A, now Cardinal A lived in the room next door & would be standing right there & never did anything
And, you know how I talked about how there may be another member, in good standing, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — Bishop Z — who, like Bishop X, may have abused as a diocesan priest? Well, the story I was told about Bishop Z, during one of our class's high school reunion lunches, I think in the Summer of 2019, involved Bishop Z taking a high school classmate, and presumably others, up to his bedroom in the rectory.
So, if the abusers were doing the same thing as in the movie SPOTLIGHT, how much of the OTHER stuff that happened in Boston also happened in St. Louis?
Both on the predator and the archdiocesan sides?
It had long seemed like the both the predators and the archdioceses were all running plays out of the same, sick, diabolical playbook.
And, OH DAMN, if the Catholic Church in St. Louis was doing the same stuff as in Boston, was law enforcement doing it as well?
How could I do the same thing, here in St. Louis?
Did I have the STRENGTH to?
The COURAGE to?
GET ON THE SAME PAGE
If I had been President back then, I would have known.
Get on the same page.
Which was gnawing at me, because it reflected the vibe I got from Sr. Helen.
Had she faced similar pressure and, rather than resisting and doing the right thing, instead caved?
And who else did?
Besides, obviously, the St. Louis press, who had completely failed The SPOTLIGHT Test.
Then there was 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?"
...which he asked on June 18, 2019, just a few weeks before the woman contacted me and told me her story about Bishop X and her husband.
And which made it clear that Dave Glover was seeing what I was seeing.
Why was I being singled out?
What was so problematic about my story?
There was also the matrix, which I couldn't help but study and be increasingly puzzled by.
Look at the dates.
And, damn, the gaps.
Gaps that maybe only I could see, but that disoriented me.
Triggered me every time I looked at them.
Caused me to dissociate.
Made me feel like I didn't exist.
Looking at the gaps was an insight that I suspect was spurred by my absolutely obsessive watching of the movie, Arrival, and explained, in part, why I was drawn to it — though, there was also its reliance on flashbacks and flashforwards and Louise's general sense of being unstuck in time — watching Arrival over and over and over and over...
As Ian tells Louise, towards the end of Arrival.
Stop focusing on the ones, look at the zeroes.
The blank spaces.
The MARKED-OVER lines.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis seemed to be — VERY carefully — trying to shape a narrative.
The same narrative Dave Glover saw and called out.
A narrative that said that, yes, my abuser Fr. LeRoy Valentine was a BAD guy, but he didn't start acting out until 1982.
But why spin that narrative?
Because, by 1982, my friend the cardinal had twice moved on to new assignments? Meaning, per the narrative, he COULDN'T have seen what I knew he saw; my and our sexual exploitation and abuse, at least, by Fr. Valentine.
But, for that narrative to work I, and a number of other guys, including guys I was increasingly discovering, had to not exist.
And I knew I existed, at least.
I came to conclude that it was all being done in order to (try to) protect my friend the cardinal.
BUT FROM WHAT?
Yeah, so he was at the same parish as an abuser.
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL?
Clearly, I needed to figure that out.
I started with the key scene in the middle of the movie SPOTLIGHT; when the reporters from the Boston Globe are told that the problem is likely MUCH bigger than they think, and realize there is information, relevant to the Catholic sex abuse crisis and its magnitude, in the service histories of priests.
And the yearbooks many (arch)dioceses produce.
Could I do the same thing in St. Louis?
I first tried to find the equivalent yearbooks for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, but couldn't find them online and, because of my anxiety problems, which were off the charts due to the time of the year — remember that the Mud Cave Trip happened during the week between Christmas and New Years, so I'm triggered as hell — trying to physically track down the yearbooks was a non-starter.
I just couldn't.
The thought made me physically ill.
Maybe the yearbooks were publicly accessible, but I'd have to leave the house to go look at them, and that wasn't an option.
So I went back to trying to find things online.
I knew that many parishes have — or, at least, used to have, before the sex abuse crisis exploded in 2002 and again in 2018, and the Archdiocese of St. Louis became much tighter with information — lists of which priests served at the parish and when. See, for example, my current parish MQP's History page.
At that same time I was doing that, my dad's comment that our pastor at Immacolata, Monsignor Flavin, was good at working with "troubled" priests with "problems" kept coming back to me.
What the HELL did that mean?
And then I remembered something critical; something my lawyers had told me, I think in the Spring of 2014, when I was discussing filing a lawsuit...
We've noticed that a number of problem priests went through Immacolata.
In their case, I think they were referring to Fr. Joseph D. Ross.
But who else was out there?
And where had they been sent, afterwards? And when?
And where were they, before?
Who ELSE had been at Immacolata? Besides Fr. Valentine?
And where EXACTLY had Fr. Valentine gone? And when?
And who else had been THERE? At the same time? Or before and after?
And, crap, what if it wasn't a coincidence that Fr. Valentine had been sent to Immacolata in the first place.
From the outset.
What if it wasn't random? What if he had been labeled as "troubled?" As having "problems?"
God forbid, in the SEMINARY?
What if the abuse of the guy Valentine molested in the car, while Valentine was still a deacon in the seminary, or something similar, had been discovered?
And acted on.
Resulting in the Archdiocese of St. Louis sending Valentine to Immacolata, home of other abusers.
And, to that point, the accepted number of priests who abused is believed to be around five percent. Double that, just in case, and you get ten percent. But even ten percent is still a pretty small number. Small enough that multiple abusive priests ending up at the same parish — or the same small number of parishes — stops looking like a coincidence.
And starts looking like a PLAN.
And, God forbid, a scheme.
I already had Fr. Valentine's service history — the Archdiocese doesn't release them to the public but, by TOTAL coincidence, one of the letters Archbishop Carlson had sent notifying one of Valentine's former parishes had been included in the on-line bulletin, which was posted as a PDF, and got picked up by The Google — so, as with Bishop X, I started trying to figure out if there were any other parishes, like Immacolata, where "troubled" priests tended to be sent.
And then I found it.
The Smoking Gun.
The Smoking Gun is a document, produced by a parish in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, that did something I'd never seen before.
I assume by mistake.
Or, perhaps, "coincidence."
A HUGE coincidence?
The Smoking Gun lists, for one parish, the names of MULTIPLE "troubled" priests AND the years they had been at the parish, something the Archdiocese of St. Louis had and still has consistently refused to do.
They never put together the names of multiple abusers and service dates.
Just one or the other.
One abuser at a time. And only their dates of service.
(And, even in that case, I think, never with the intention of that information going outside of the parish. Which is why, when I found such a document involving my abuser, I think I got lucky.)
Or the names of multiple abusers, but only ordination and retirement dates.
Not their dates at parishes.
Not for multiple abusers.
I assume so people can't see what I saw.
But, in this case, somebody screwed up.
The creation of the Smoking Gun was prompted by the release by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, on July 26, 2019 — a week before I was contacted by The Wife about Bishop X — of its list of Archdiocesan Clergy with Substantiated Allegations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor. Critically, though I didn't know it at the time, and unlike any other parish, near as I can tell, my parish put together a sub-list that broke out the (four) abusers on the Archdiocese of St. Louis' master list who had been at Mary, Queen of Peace.
And the dates they were there.
The document — which is still on line, last I checked — wasn't formatted well, initially hiding the pattern from me.
Rev. Thomas Cooper 1955 – 1961
However, when I cleaned it up, and reformatted it, I saw it.
It jumped right out at me.
Off the page.
One big enough to threaten my friend the cardinal.
And maybe the entire archdiocese.
If not the Catholic Church.
A secret the Archdiocese of St. Louis would be DESPERATE to keep. Regardless of what it would require they do to a survivor.
Because what's a layperson compared to a Catholic cardinal and, perhaps, future Pope?
Much less the first American Pope.
The first American Pope who — and this is where people start getting verklempt — would be from St. Louis.
How AWESOME would that be?!?
One theory that has been advanced about what happened during the Catholic sex abuse crisis, and why, is the idea of the Ontological Change; that a priest's ENTIRE BEING is changed by ordination.
That this Ontological Change therefore made the sex abuse crisis IMPOSSIBLE.
At least in the minds of faithful Catholics.
No person who was ordained, and underwent the Ontological Change, could do what people were alleging. Which, the narrative goes, helps to explain and excuse their disbelief and inaction.
Cognitive Dissonance and all that, I guess.
I've seen some evidence of that thinking, convenient or not, in my own Archdiocese of St. Louis. When I went back to them in May 2011, and they — eventually — got back to me, they told me that my abuser, Fr. LeRoy Valentine, denied everything.
And that was that.
What, a priest, LIE? IMPOSSIBLE!
Some of the people on the Review Team I spoke to didn't seem to be able to even consider the idea.
But then things got...
Even though he had told me that Fr. Valentine had denied everything, and acted like that was that, Deacon Phil Hengen still told me he was going to contact my psychologist. But he never did. But why would Hengen even OFFER to contact my therapist if he thought my allegations were impossible?
What could he have thought he would have learned from talking to my psychologist, if what I had told him and the rest of the Review Team was IMPOSSIBLE?
Because of the Ontological Change.
And, holy crap, it just hit me, why was my abuser sent to two parishes, Immacolata and MQP, that seemed to be frequent destinations for abusive priests, BEFORE he — supposedly — abused his first victim in 1982?
Was that just a COINCIDENCE?
As I said previously, the document I was looking at when I was considering these questions wasn't formatted quite right, with a missing tab stop that broke up the flow of the document, because of the length of one of the names. And the first line, while terrible I'm sure for some survivors, was a distraction in terms of what I was looking for.
However, when I inserted that tab stop, and removed the first line, everything lined right up.
And I immediately saw it.
So much so that I tweeted about it, as soon as I saw it.
Look at the dates.
How they line up.
Look at what happened in 1978.
Creason goes out and McDonough comes in.
And again in 1981.
McDonough goes out and Valentine comes in.
And those four priests are just the ones the Archdiocese of St. Louis has ACKNOWLEDGED were abusers. I've been told of at least one other priest who is missing from that list.
A priest from more recently.
And, again, notice the pattern. The rhythm.
One "troubled" priest goes out and another one comes in.
Over and over again.
One after another.
It was almost as if MQP had a SLOT — an allocation? — for a "troubled" priest.
Holy crap, like Immacolata did?
And what other parishes?
Because the pastor of MQP, like Monsignor Flavin, the pastor of Immacolata, was also good at working with "troubled" priests?
Priests who had "problems."
And, obviously, the whole "troubled" priests thing wasn't just Immacolata.
It was a program.
That involved multiple parishes.
AND STARTED IN THE 1970s.
Holy crap, they knew.
All the way back when.
BEFORE my abuse started.
Again, worse, look at the dates.
They were MANAGING abusers.
There was never more than one abuser at MQP at a time. And that's a big deal because management implies, because it requires, KNOWLEDGE.
They KNEW who the abusers were. Which is how they were able to manage them.
How do you manage three problem priests so tightly — putting them at MQP in sequence, without their overlapping — WITHOUT knowledge of their status as abusers?
And, again, if there was no program and no knowledge, then why was only ONE abuser allowed at MQP at any one time?
No, it had to be because they knew these guys were a threat, and were trying to minimize the size of the threat.
To something they though they could manage?
The existence of such an effort, which my friend the cardinal was right in the middle of, would be a big enough secret to threaten him.
And the entire Catholic Church.
Next time on Sacrificed, the titular episode.
An exploration and discussion of why we were sacrificed.
Why it happened.
And, most importantly, whether it could happen again.
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...