Sins of the Fathers
ChrisOLeary.com > Sins > Sacrificed > SPOTLIGHT and Me

Many seem to have the impression that the movie SPOTLIGHT represented the culmination of the Catholic sex abuse crisis.

The moment EVERYTHING changed.

The denouement.

The beginning of the end.

But, for me, a survivor in St. Louis who was abused by a priest named Father LeRoy Valentine in St. Louis in the late 1970s and early 1980s -- abuse that was witnessed, at least in part, by then Father and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York -- the events detailed in SPOTLIGHT mark only the resumption of my story.

The end of the beginning.

SPOTLIGHT and Me

If you’ve seen the movie SPOTLIGHT — and, if you haven’t, you should — you know how the story goes.

In 2001 the Boston Globe, and eventually the SPOTLIGHT team — the group of Globe reporters that does deep, investigative dives into important stories — after screwing up and burying numerous stories about Father John J. Geoghan, under new editor Marty Baron finally starts digging into the story due to a July 29, 2001 Eileen McNamara column about the handling of the case of Father John J. Geoghan by Cardinal Bernard Law that caught Marty Baron's eye.

That then led to a series of articles in the Boston Globe about the Archdiocese of Boston, starting with...

Roll credits.

New York Times Article

As the credits explain, the SPOTLIGHT articles about the Archdiocese of Boston's mishandling of the Catholic sex abuse crisis led a number of other papers to jump on the story.

One of which was the New York Times.

Somehow -- I'm still not sure exactly how it happened -- the authors of that New York Times piece came to focus on St. Louis and a story involving my abuser, Father LeRoy Valentine.

That article led the St. Louis press and law enforcement to cover the story.

Which is how I enter the picture.

Again.

Fr. Valentine and Me

As of March 3, 2002, the publication of the New York Times articles, and the subsequent coverage by the St. Louis press, my memories of Fr. LeRoy Valentine were EXCLUSIVELY positive.

So, when the Circuit Attorney and the Archdiocese of St. Louis asked people to come forward and contact them if they had any information, I wasn't sure I had anything -- of significance -- to tell them.

Sure, there was that weird thing that happened in the station wagon, drivinging back from the day spent caving in the Mud Cave down I-44.

Father LeRoy Valentine

That time, on December 26, 1980 -- I know that exact date because it's written on the back of the photo that memorialized the trip -- when I woke up from a nap in the car, seated next to Father Valentine in the passenger side of the front bench seat, and I looked over at him and was overtaken with a feeling of pure DISGUST.

I suspect because he had been touching me.

But, Father LeRoy Valentine was huggy.

Handsy.

Hands All Over as the -- creepy AF, IMO -- Maroon 5 song goes.

But that's just how Fr. V was.

And none of the adults at the time seemed to think it was a big deal.

Plus, it was just the price of being one of Fr. V's favorites.

As I thought of myself.

And, anyway, the Circuit Attorney  Jennifer Joyce never returned my call after I left a message for her office, just a few days later, telling her some of what I remembered about Father LeRoy Valentine.

Nothing Happened?

The same thing happened when, after I called in to the hotline the Archdiocese of St. Louis had set up.

And by then Bishop and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan called me back.

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