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  Runaway Priests [See a list of articles in the series.]
Hiding in Plain Sight
The Human Toll

By Reese Dunklin
Dallas Morning News
June 20, 2004

When his migraines would come on, the boy had to go to the boarding school's infirmary for his medicine.

Father Frank Klep was there dispensing pills. Some of them made the boy woozy and weak.

"I'd wake up and find him right there, and it was happening," he says. He is an adult now, and he's talking for the first time publicly about what happened in the late 1970s.

Father Klep says he would have stopped touching the boy if the 13-year-old had objected. The priest denies drugging anyone.

The boy couldn't tell his parents because Father Klep had won their trust with calls and letters about their son. And he couldn't confide in his friends because he feared being taunted.

"Boarding school gave you a tough veneer," he says. "You had to internalize it."

His second year at the school near Melbourne, Australia, he tried to avoid the infirmary when Father Klep was around. "I'd just put up with the headache rather than be assaulted again," he says.

But some days the throbbing was insufferable, and he had to have medicine. Father Klep was still there dispensing pills.

The boy's unsuspecting parents refused his request to quit the school. So he let himself fail, which led to his expulsion. And that kept him out of college.

As a young adult, he drifted from job to job. He married but couldn't bring himself to tell his wife about the abuse. She didn't understand his anger, depression and aloofness, and she considered a separation.

Then she became pregnant. He decided to tell her before the baby was born.

The couple has grown close again. Together they're fighting to have Father Klep removed from ministry and kept away from children. "He gets off scot-free," the man's wife says.

But her husband is haunted.

"Every time he gets a migraine," she says, "it's a reminder."

 
 

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