Sex crimes by priests, and the gross neglicence by church officials, forced me to question the Catholic institution. Therefore, my experience as a survivor of priest sexual abuse is relevant. However, it is the church apologists who claim the “scandal” is an attack on the church, and fueled by anti-catholicism, that I find offensive, personally insulting, and the true reason for this blog.
1956 - I was born in Washington DC., and grew up in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Raised by a devout Catholic family, one of four children who all attended Catholic schools.
1966 - A priest employeed by the Archdiocese of Washington is sent to a Catholic facility, (the Paracletes), for “treatment” after molesting two boys. Their recommendation to Cardinal O’Boyle, the priest should not be allowed around children and his prognosis is “guarded.”
1968 - I was sexually molested by that priest, now the assistant pastor at St. Columba's in Oxon Hill. After the abuse, I was scared, angry, and confused. The only thing I was sure of, that I couldn't tell my parents. I was eleven years old.
2002 - I never repressed the memory of what happened. When the scandal broke in Boston; the courage of survivors speaking out, and the outrageaus and insulting response of church officials; I was ready to file a report.
2003 - Maryland is one of the few states with no statute of limitations for felonies. The police investigated, other victims came forward, and Father Robert Petrella was arrested. He pleaded guilty to 3 counts of "unnatural and perverted sex practices." Thirty-five years after the crime, I sat in a Maryland courtroom and saw a serial predator held partially accountable for what he did to so many of us. Beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence didn’t disappear, the witnesses didn’t die, and worst of all the memories never faded.
In 2003 Petrella was defrocked by Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger, and Cardinal McCarrick. The Archdiocese of Washington acknowledged at least 25 known victims.
Petrella was sentenced to 18 months in prison and served just 9 months before being paroled. In 2007 he completed three years of supervised probation. Today his wherabouts are unknown.
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