Thursday, May 28, 2009

A victim’s statement

I had an odd day today. My inbox was filling up with Catholic hate mail, people were leaving rude comments on my blog, and I had lunch with two Christians who were interested in talking about clergy sexual abuse.

I have filters setup to delete the hate mail, so no worries. The rude comments were fun. I can be just as big a jerk as most people who comment on my blog, so that worked out too. But the lunch with two Christians was different. One man was a former catholic who told me the story of his wife’s 30 year sex abuse saga. She had been molested and then vilified when she reported it. The entire process took years and caused horrible physiological damage. The pressure caused the man and his wife to leave the Catholic church to join the EV Free Church in Fullerton, where they found a friendly new home.

He went on to talk about how his new church had handled a similar scandal. They were open with the church membership, separated the accuser and the accused, and separated the accused from the church until the issue was resolved.I told him they had handled it correctly.

We went on to discuss what to do when Christians admit feeling a desire to molest children. I suggested they be treated like addicts and that they be kept away from children. I suggested offering the addict a chance to serve in a capacity that does not involve children, like feeding the poor or cutting the lawn. They took the advice back to their church.

We went on to talk about atheism. I’ll cover that in another post.

Near the end of my odd day, a victim posted a link to his press release in the comments to my post on Clergy sexual abuse and missionary work. In a compelling statement, he recounts how he came to bring an abuse accusation against Rev. Kevin Hederman. I’ve reprinted it below.

It is interesting to note that people are starting to talk about other accusations from Henderman’s past. As I suspected, the story is unfolding in a way which points to moving a priest around until they found a home for him in Belize. It is a scary thought.

DWI writes

To: IwasinNAM, j22, anne839. I have first had knowledge of Fr. Kevin’s sexual abuse because it was in my family. It happened on one of his famous trips like the on that IwasinNAM spoke of and yes we have known Fr. Kevin from the early 1970’s. Fr. Kevin is a homosexual that preys on young adult men. You put me and the three of you in a room with Fr. Kevin and I will mention one name that will bring him to his knees.

John Doe 115 posted his statement in the thread of this article. He posted a link in the tread of this post. I’ve attempted to contact him to get permission to re-post his press release, however I’ve subsequently discovered the document is in the public domain. So here we go.

John Doe 115’s statement

This is my statement that was submitted to the press. Read it, find the case, read the case, make your own conclusions:

"Unfortunately this letter is almost two decades in the making. At a time of crisis in my life, when I was a teenager, I sought help and advice from the person I thought could best help me. I went to see the one priest that I truly identified with, a man that I thought really understood what it means to be a teenager in an all-boy catholic school. I met Father Kevin Hederman while he visited CBC to say mass numerous times and at other functions facilitated by the high school. After 9 years of Catholic Grade school, I had been baptized, received first confession, first Communion, became an alter boy, was confirmed, and went to mass every Sunday as we were taught. I even considered the priesthood seriously while in grade school, but decided that I did want to marry and have children. We were also taught to respect God and the reverence of the Priesthood and the Church.

Father Kevin was known to be a person you could call on to help, and he served the church where I went to high school, and he was funny. He spoke in language that was unusually casual and caused me to believe he was the “cool priest”. I didn’t have a lot of friends at CBC and my parents and I didn’t see eye to eye, which is often the case as a teenager, it’s part of growing up.

I went to see father Kevin because I felt I didn’t have anywhere else to turn at the time, and I knew he would understand my teenage angst because he was such a nice man, and a priest, and a man respected by many, including me.

After I left the rectory, I left a little more confused than when I arrived, and it made me upset because I wasn’t quite sure what had occurred. I really didn’t know what to do with the events that occurred.

After years of wrestling with this information internally, wondering if I was making more out of something than necessary, I continued to bury the thoughts and forget about them. Then one day, when I had an appointment scheduled to see a psychiatrist, the events of what happened with Father Kevin came back to me again, and it finally dawned on me, that maybe something more terrible had occurred than I originally allowed myself to believe.

It was at this point I looked up SNAP on the internet and called all of the local people involved early in the morning, probably in the 5 to 6 am time frame. I wrote an email of the account to David Clohessy and met with my Psychiatrist later that day and mentioned the events of the incidents with the priest and my psychiatrist confirmed my unfortunate revelation.

This is when my journey began, and better yet, my healing began.

My reason for coming forward is to make people aware of this individual, if he could do so much to me in so little time; God knows what he is doing in another country dealing with children, and who else he has hurt here locally.

Please come forward and talk to someone, talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist, or call SNAP, you can remain anonymous. I am coming forward because I’m afraid if I don’t, there will be more and more victims.

As I mentioned, I spent many years ignoring the actual facts that any rational person from the outside looking in, would easily spot as abuse. When it is you that it has happened to, in my case, I asked, was this really so bad, did he really mean harm, did I really suffer that greatly? Were these events really his intention? I ask these questions back and forth every day, and the simple facts state that I was abused, I am just now coming to terms with this and it makes me angry that he has been allowed to continue to serve as a priest under the circumstances.

In closing, if you had an experience with a priest or person of authority cloaked in “religion” etc that you often wonder whether or not it was appropriate, please come forward, speak with SNAP, you may remain anonymous, and it will begin your healing process. I am a respected member of the community and am coming forward because I believe it is my DUTY to warn people of this priest. My main drive in life is to do what’s right. I am coming forth anonymously and so can you. This crime has no economic, ethnic, social, or medical boundaries. Every one of us knows somebody who has been abused by a clergy member; they look just like the people standing next to you.

I still love Catholicism and appreciate the church’s teachings, but it is the history of the church to hide and conceal this information that has allowed this priest and many others to continue to abuse your sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, relatives, and friends, and until the church feels enough “pain” they will continue to operate by protecting the abusers hoping to protect the church, it will only cause more heartache and abuse to occur. I urge the church to really take this on, and get rid of ALL priests credibly accused and or convicted of abuse once and for all, by not doing this and by not looking for transformation with this horrific problem, it will cause the church to continually lose its credibility and members, and ultimately destroy the Catholic Church if massive efforts are not done to correct this problem.

John Doe, 115

I am not sure my faith would survive this kind of abuse. Hell, my faith did not survive my youth, but that is another story.

John Doe, I offer the comment thread on this post to you. I will not interfere, delete, or block any comments. Use it as you will. Post what you want.

And one last thing, I also found out that one of my sisters, her husband, and her adult son, have started to attend Cornerstone Community Church. I can’t remember hearing the word church from my sisters lips in over 30 years. There are fun times ahead I’m sure. Like I said, it’s been a weird day.

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