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Abusing the Faithful

The Indypendent Apr 5

The following testimonies are taken from the recently released clergy files of the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which made public the personnel records of priests accused of sexually abusing children on Jan. 31. The court-ordered release of the 12,000 documents came from the largest archdiocese in the nation and was accompanied by the removal of a top clergyman, Cardinal Roger Mahoney, who had been linked to efforts to conceal the abuse. In March, Cardinal Mahoney traveled to Rome to participate in the election of the new pope.

FROM THE FILES:

“In March of 1993 I began to see a picture of a room inside my head. It would pop into my thoughts randomly and frequently…Each time the room popped into my head I tried to find a quiet place to allow the experience to unfold. Most of the time, I would just lay on the floor in the fetal position crying, never knowing why. Eventually the room began to invade my meditation and my sleep. I seemed to be particularly afraid of a chair in the room. Again, I did not know why. I had begun to journal after these experiences. My journal entry on June 19, 1993 reads, ‘Can’t sit in that chair, Fr. Joe touches me in that chair.’ After I wrote it I said to myself, ‘why did I just write that?’

“On June 24, 1993 I was unable to sleep. The library was haunting me. I gave in out of sheer frustration. Again my body began to shake, I was overcome with extreme fear and a sense of danger. Then I began to feel my vagina being penetrated over and over again. The picture became clear, it was Father Joe and I was sitting in his lap. It was his fingers that I was feeling…I was in shock. How could I forget something this serious? It was unbelievable. It must be a mistake.”

— Sex abuse survivor testimony in reference to Reverend Joseph Alzugaray

 

“Father Barmasse acknowledged that an incident had occurred in 1983…He explained that he had invited a group of altar servers to a movie but they all canceled except one boy. Instead of going out, Father Barmasse invited the boy to watch a video in the rectory. The movie was Jaws. Father Barmasse reported that that while they were watching the movie, the boy commented that when his family watched videos at home they gave each other massages. Father Barmasse then asked the boy if he wanted a massage and the boy said yes. The youngster was about 12 years old. He lay on his stomach and Father Barmasse lifted up his shirt to massage his shoulders and back. He then undid the boy’s jeans and pulled them down in order to massage the boy’s legs.”

— Report by Staff Psychiatrist at the St. Luke Institute in reference to Reverend Kevin Barmasse

 

“Took notes for  hour — stretched and he offered to give me a backrub. Tour of rectory — up to his room — bear hug. Then he kissed me and forced his tongue in my mouth. He saw I was afraid; sat me down, gave me a soda; then laid me on the sofa — began kissing me with his tongue, put his hand on my crotch, rubbing me to erection, asked me to take down my pants. Then I said, ‘I have to go.’ Offered to take me back to St. Luke’s, my Episcopal church…on the way to St. Luke’s in the car, he begged me not to tell anyone — that it would ruin him and nobody would believe me anyway. I felt ashamed; was very scared and didn’t think anyone would believe me. I have carried it since then.”

— Sex abuse survivor testimony in reference to Reverend Leland Boyer

 

“Other instances happened at the Botanical Gardens in Santa Barbara. We would go there to take walks and he would reach out and hold my hand as we were walking. At some point during the walk he would find a secluded spot and sit me down on the ground or bench or one time it was a rock. He would then begin kissing me, always with his tongue all over the place in my mouth. He would begin touching me all over my body and the touching progressed to where he would unbutton or take off my shirt and fondle and kiss and suck on my breasts for lengthy periods of time. His hands would also be all over the rest of my body.

“One time he took me to the beach to take my picture. After he took the picture he began molesting me. He was lying on top of me rubbing himself against me until he ejaculated. When he was finished he stood up and I noticed that he had a big wet spot on the front of his pants. He just untucked his shirt. On that day my parents had invited him to my house for dinner. He just drove me there with his shirt untucked and sat at our dinner table with his pants still wet from the molestation. I was terrified.”

— Sex abuse survivor testimony in reference to Reverend Michael S. Terra

 

“Father was friendly, took us to the movies a lot. I’d see him almost every day on the playground at St. Barnabas. He’d take several of us to movies. In time, he would take only me. Toward the end of 7th grade, he started talking to me after a movie in his car. He said ‘You are a lot more to me than a friend.’ He reached over and put his hand on my lap, asked me if that was all right. I said I was uncomfortable. He said, ‘Sorry, I won’t do that again.’ A week later, he began giving me gifts, tried it again. He kept pursuing me, asked me to movies a lot. People really liked Father Llanos, he sang well, changed the Mass around in the way people liked.

“When he would approach me at school, he would say, ‘What’s wrong, there’s nothing wrong with this, nothing wrong with the way I feel about you.’ He’d grab my butt from behind, harassed me a lot; I was more scared than anything else. Kept giving me gifts and calling up. He’d pull my hand over his groin many times.”

— Sex abuse survivor testimony in reference to Reverend Theodore Llanos

 

“The year 1947. I was 7 years old — just a little child. You were assisting at St. Alphonsus parish in East Los Angeles. One day I was in the school cafeteria, adjoining the parish auditorium. My mother was visiting with the lunchroom ladies. You knew my mother well. She drove the school bus and did some secretarial work in the rectory. Perhaps your relationship with her brought you into contact with me…You were there that day and somehow managed to get me into the auditorium. The auditorium was dark. Rows and rows of chairs were set up. A movie projector was in place. You put the projector on. Then you sat me on your lap, held me, and began to sexually abuse me. You placed your fingers in my vagina. It seemed as if at least fifteen minutes passed before you were finished with me. I remember the moment you left me standing alone as you went on your way. I was confused, alone and afraid. I locked myself in the parish hall bathroom. I never told anyone. I couldn’t.”

— Sex abuse survivor testimony in reference to Reverend George Rucker

 

“Several years ago my sister was molested, possibly raped by a Fr. Joseph D. Pina, pastor of St. Alphonsus Church…So why do I write? Well its because after all these years I have had much time to reflect about the situation. Much anger, fear, and frustration has been part of me and my family. None of us have been able to completely enjoy our lives. A deep wedge has been hammered into my family, driving each other away because of this event. Also though the faith my sisters had by this time began to deteriorate, the things Fr. Joe Pina did greatly contributed for them to further themselves from the Church.

So my question is why did the church do nothing to remedy this? If Fr. Pina had reported it why did Your office remain quiet when you had a moral obligation to address this issue. Nothing really has been done to Fr. Joe, other than getting psychological help but what about getting help for my sister and my family? Several times my sister has vocalized gettinq help but due to her financial situation she has not been able to get long term help. Mr. Archbishop it’s not just the money but the feeling of isolation and lack of response from a church I believed in. Even my father’s, who I believe is an extremely devoted my man, faith has been shook up violently. All I want is for the Church to deal with this situation honestly.”

— Letter to the Church in reference to Reverend Joseph Pina from the brother of a sex abuse survivor

 

“I warned you twenty four years ago to stay away from me. Remember that phone call?…Let me refresh your memory. Remember the dinners at the Azteca Restaurant? Remember ordering drinks for both of us? Remember kissing me on the lips and telling me that it wasn’t unusual behavior with men in European cultures? Remember asking me about how often I masturbated? Remember telling me that you also masturbated? Remember the foreign film that we saw together in Santa Monica that you insisted I see? Remember the homosexual sex scenes? Remember how interested you were in my sex life with my girlfriend? Remember telling me that I shouldn’t tell anybody else what we talk about? That they might not understand? Remember the Cognac we drank together at your residence? Remember asking to see the birthmark on my penis? Remember, remember, remember!

“Father Cronin, my memory is very clear.”

— Sex abuse survivor testimony in reference to Reverend Sean Cronin