If asked, I believe Deacon Phil Hengen and the Archidocese of
St. Louis would say they tried to help me.
I just wouldn't let them.
However, the truth is more complicated, and grows out of the
fact that I simply don't trust Deacon Hengen, the Archdiocese of
St. Louis' point man on handling claims of sexual abuse.
Or the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Or Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
Or Pope Francis.
That lack of trust is the result of the events of May 9, 2011
and the weeks, months, and years that followed.
May 9, 2011
By early 2011, I had lost everything.
I was unemployed, divorced, and struggling to survive.
At times, I struggled to scrape together enough money
The problem was that I literally didn't know how to think -- and/or was afraid to
think about -- anything other than baseball. While I managed to make
enough money off of my knowledge about baseball to survive --
barely -- my symptoms were getting worse. I was having a harder and
harder time making money due to my anxiety and other issues.
For a number of reasons, the biggest of which was my
inability to go to confession without experiencing panic attacks,
by early 2011 I had begun to wonder whether
my struggles were the result of my interactions with
Fr. Valentine. As a result, in Spring 2011, during Holy Week, I
contacted Deacon Phil Hengen, the Archdiocese of St. Louis'
point person when it came to allegations of sexual abuse by
On May 12, 2011 I met with Deacon Phil Hengen and a Review Team
(now called an Investigation Team) to
tell them what I had told
Timothy Dolan and a psychologist
back in 2002.
What was driving me was a simple question.
Are you sure this doesn't mean anything?
As soon as I walked in the room, I knew there was a problem.
I had obtained a copy of the
Archdiocese of St. Louis' policies for dealing with alleged
sexual abuse for 2011 in order
to know what to expect. One of the things the Pastoral Policy
A Review Team will be established for each
allegation which is to be investigated under these
policies...The Archbishop, the Vicar for Priests, and
the archdiocesan attorney may meet with the Review Team, but
shall not be members.
As a result, I was stunned when I walked into the room and
not one but two of the people in the room were lawyers.
What I had gotten myself into wasn't just a meeting.
It was a deposition.
And I didn't know to bring a lawyer with me.
The female lawyer took notes of everything I said because, in
the words of Deacon Phil Hengen, "She has the best penmanship."
Nothing was said to me during the meeting in terms of whether the
Review Team believed me.
The only thing that was said that was close to a reaction,
interpretation, or diagnosis were the words of Deacon Phil Hengen.
As the meeting concluded, he wrote the name of a book on the
back of his card...
...and then handed me his card.
The name of the book was
Man Enough by Frank Pittman. As I read it -- and re-read it
and re-re-read it -- I could only assume Deacon Hengen
recommended it me because of what I had told the team about my
problems working with and for men.
In terms of Fr. Valentine, his telling me to read that book
made one thing clear.
Another thing the Pastoral Policy talks about is that one of the
members of the Office of Child and Youth Protection is an
The services of an Assistance Coordinator shall be
offered, for each alleged victim. The Assistance Coordinator
will assist persons who allege that as minors they were sexually
abused by a member of the clergy or other church personnel in
making their claims known to the proper archdiocesan personnel.
While that sounds great, here's the problem.
In the 6+ years since I met with the Review Team, I have never
been offered the services of an Assistance Coordinator or been
put in touch with them. In fact, in my conversations with Deacon
Phil Hengen, the topic of an Assistance Coordinator never came
Don't Be Fooled
The Archdiocese of St. Louis isn't following
its own published guidelines for handling cases of sexual abuse.
tells me that the whole thing is Eyewash; nothing more than a P.R. exercise.
It's designed to look good on paper.
Not actually help people.
Suspecting that the problem was Deacon Phil Hengen, I went
over his head and brought the problem to the attention of
Monsignor Richard Hanneke,
the Vicar for Priests. Hanneke told me that I had to continue to go through Deacon Phil Hengen,
despite knowing Hengen
wasn't helping me and I
didn't trust him as a result.
That made it clear that my inability to get help was a
Strategy, not a
The Archdiocese of St. Louis didn't -- actually -- want to
They just wanted me to go away.