Missouri Senator Josh Hawley presents himself as a passionate and
fearless advocate for the abused, and their families. As he did
earlier this week in confronting United States Attorney General
However, my personal experience with the Senator, as a survivor
of the Catholic sex abuse crisis, who tried to get help from the
Senator via his investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, tells
a different story.
One of an all too familiar, callous indifference.
Statement on Missouri
Senator Josh Hawley
October 28, 2021
Yesterday, I happened to hear my Senator from Missouri, Josh
Hawley, grill United States Attorney General Merrick Garland
about the handling of a parent's protest, to a school board,
regarding the alleged sexual assault of a female student in a
school bathroom, the alleged cover-up of that attack, and the
Attorney General and his department's publication of a memo
regarding the handling of those protests and protestors.
As a parent, and survivor of sexual abuse and assault,
myself, I couldn't help but sympathize with the concerns,
and heartbreak, of both a parent and a child put in such a
But, as Senator Hawley went on, and on, a thought struck
me, "Where was that passion and intensity when I went to
then Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley for help in
September 2018? As a result of his launching an
investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. When I was
completely ignored by the Senator and repeatedly put off and
blown off by his staff. I can only assume in what was,
ultimately, a cynical attempt by Senator Hawley to help the
Archdiocese of St. Louis cover up the past sexual abuse of
children, Timothy Cardinal Dolan's knowledge of that abuse,
and the present abuse of the abused by the Archdiocese of
As a result, it was more than a bit ironic -- rich -- to
hear Senator Hawley harangue the Attorney General of the
United States for his alleged failure to monitor, supervise,
and inform himself of the actions of his staff, given that I
had an all too similar experience with the Senator, and his
staff, when he was Attorney General of the State of
My name is Chris O'Leary and I'm a survivor of the Catholic
sex abuse crisis. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, at the
Church of the Immacolata in Richmond Heights, Missouri, a suburb
of St. Louis, I was sexually exploited, abused, and assaulted --
raped -- by a Catholic priest named Fr. LeRoy Valentine, abuse
that was witnessed, at least in part, by then Father and now
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York.
In late August 2018, in the aftermath of the Pennsylvania
Grand Jury report, then Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley
launched an investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the
Archdiocese in which my sexual abuse occurred, the prospect of
which gave me the one thing that fuels and sustains every
But it was a false hope.
I literally BEGGED Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, and
his staff, to talk to me, multiple times, over and over again,
and increasingly desperately, yet the Senator and his staff
ignored my pleas and me.
In late August or early September 2018, I submitted my
contact information, and a high-level description of what
happened to me, to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley through
the web form his office created. I also told all the other
survivors I knew to do the same. And I waited. And nothing
happened. So I re-submitted my information. And waited. And
nothing happened. So I re-re-submitted my information. And
waited. And nothing happened.
At no point was I, or any of the other survivors I know, ever
contacted by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, or his team,
to be interviewed for his investigation of the Archdiocese of
That was a problem because, among other things, I have in my
possession information and documents that would have let the
Attorney General and his office know whether the Archdiocese of
St. Louis was being straight with them, or not; whether they
were disclosing everything they needed to. That was a particular
concern because the Attorney General didn't seek subpoena power
for his investigation.
But it seemed Attorney General Hawley and his team didn't care.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's investigation of the
Archdiocese of St. Louis was a sham. A Fraud. A false hope. A
cruel taunt, directed at survivors.
And, perhaps, reflective of a systemic problem.
The current Attorney General of Missouri, Eric Schmitt, who,
I should mention, is one of the Republican candidates for
Senate, took over the "investigation" of the Archdiocese of St.
Louis from now Senator Hawley and did little better. Yes I
talked to Schmitt's team, twice. After I forced them to talk to
me by notifying them of possible violations of federal law.
However, shortly after the second meeting, in late July 2019,
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt abruptly wrapped up the
investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, I can only assume
because, in the second meeting, I told his team things -- about
the Attorney General's own Archdiocese and Catholic Church? --
they didn't want to hear.
As a final insult, rather than face me, Missouri Attorney
General Eric Schmitt had his team throw me out of the room, and
the building, in which the press conference announcing the
results of the "investigation" of the Archdiocese of St. Louis
was held and in which I was standing silently, in a corner,
hoping to hear something that would give me hope. An action a
videographer from local station KMOV filmed in its entirety.
As a fairly conservative person, I often vote Republican.
However, as a survivor -- much less of the Catholic sex abuse
crisis -- I cannot countenance the actions of Republicans like
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, or Missouri Attorney General Eric
Schmitt, who would have voters believe they are friends of
survivors. Who, when the cameras are rolling, are bulldogs
locked on to the Truth, but who, when the cameras are off, when
pressed, and behind the scenes, refuse to help survivors.
Emboldened, I can only assume, by the knowledge of the past
actions and sexual misconduct of, or out of a desire to enable,
former President Trump?
Regardless, it's well past time that politicians in
general, and Republicans in particular, start taking
seriously the CRIMES of sexual exploitation, abuse, and
assault. Crimes I would hope the recent, excruciating, and
incredibly courageous and compelling witness of the women
and survivors of U.S.A. Gymnastics made all too salient.
As for Senator Hawley, in my Missouri, we have a saying. One
that reflects a hard-won understanding that talk is cheap. One
I've used previously and fearlessly, emboldened by Jesus Christ,
with Pope Francis himself regarding the Catholic sex abuse
crisis, and the Pope's failed response to survivors. One Senator
Hawley's actions of yesterday brought to mind. Once again.
Show me, the people of Missouri, and the people of these
United States that you get it, Senator Hawley. Actually.
Finally. That you understand that the exploitation of survivors
for political purposes and gain, as you did yesterday, and as
you did while Attorney General of Missouri in 2018, is
unconscionable and unacceptable.
Do the honorable thing.
I call on you to resign, Senator Hawley.
St. Louis, MO
ACCOMPANYING VIDEO STATEMENT
WRITINGS ABOUT HAWLEY & CRISIS
PODCAST ABOUT THE CRISIS