|ChrisOLeary.com > Sins of the Fathers > TOC > The Smoking Gun|
One thing I remember about my parish of Immacolata — that I've ALWAYS remembered — was a strange dichotomy.
On the one hand, we always had one special and powerful priest in residence.
One guy who was a Big Deal.
First, that was Father and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Then it was Bishop O'Donnell.
One the other hand, we always had one priest who was a little "different." Sometimes in being standoffish. Other times in being REALLY friendly with the altar boys, in sharp contrast to the way Monsignor Flavin interacted with us.
In the first case, that was a priest who had a REALLY affected way of singing and even speaking. In the second, that was Father Valentine.
I once asked my dad about this fact and he replied — and I've ALWAYS remembered this, because it seemed like a big deal — that Monsignor Flavin was good at working with "troubled" priests.
Who had "problems."
If I had only known what that meant...
And how it was part of a much bigger, and darker, reality.
The Smoking Gun
During the Summer of 2019 I was contacted by a woman via Facebook. I had started talking about my abuse on Facebook, and I guess she came across one of my posts looking for people in St. Louis who had similar knowledge and/or stories.
As it turned out, her mother had long wondered if her son in law, the husband of the woman who contacted me, had been abused by a priest.
A priest who was — still — a family friend, who was now a bishop, and whose interactions with the woman's husband and his family were just a bit...
The wife wanted to know what to look for, so I gave her a general sense of what I had gone through and how it manifested itself in my behavior.
I'll never forget what she said to me after a couple days of talking via Facebook DMs.
_____ has been sending us money for years, I now know why.
Over the Winter of 2019-2020, a story ran that indicated that this same person who may have abused that woman'd husband while a diocesan priest, and who was now a bishop, was interfering with efforts to hold problem priests accountable.
Maybe he thought he was doing his job and helping them.
But what he was actually doing was enabling them.
That led to a conversation with the reporter who wrote the piece, and that conversation led me to start digging into that now-bishop's past.
Which included time spent at my (former) parish.
Going over the parish web site, I found a document — a document that's still there, last I checked — that DESTROYED me. It was a simple Word document with the names of four priests who had been named by the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the time they spent at the parish.
And, in trying to get a better sense of where certain priests had been, when, I stumbled across a document.
LIST OF THOSE PRIESTS ACCUSED OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR WHO SERVED AT MARY QUEEN OF PEACE
What I found so devastating was the last three names.
And not just the fact that my abuser was among him.
I knew his service history and already knew that he had gone to Mary Queen of Peace (MQP) after leaving Immacolata.
What really bothered me was the DATES.
How well, and tightly, they all match up.
One year after another. And another.
One predator priest moves out. And another moves in.
And that happened REPEATEDLY.
Over and over again.
There's no other explanation for what was happening.
They were being MANAGED.
And management implies — because it requires — KNOWLEDGE.
So how does that happen? How does the Archdiocese of St. Louis find out they have abusers in their midst and, insteading of expelling them, decides to manage them?
And, by manage, I mean protect.
I've never seen any evidence that our pastor, Monsignor Cornelius Flavin, did anything to try to control the actions of Fr. LeRoy Valentine, at least.
Nothing ever changed.
What Monsignor Flavin did tell Sr. Helen was that anything that happened outside of the school building — in the gym, the rectory, and the church, which is where we were being abused — was none of her concern.
None of her business.
Her job was to run the school, and that was it.