'It Was Truly Hell'

WALA [Mobile AL]
February 20, 2004

A Mobile man says he's been carrying a painful secret. He's speaking publicly for the first time about sexual abuse he says he experienced as a child at the Catholic Boys Home in Mobile. It was run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the same order to which Brother Victor Bendillo belongs. Bendillo was recently convicted of abusing boys at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School.

Donald Hearn gets emotional when he talks about all the medals he earned during his 9 years of military service. But, his most painful memories aren't from the war, they're from his childhood. Hearn told me, "It was truly hell. The Catholic Boys Home as a hidden prison, with no walls and no fence."

That's how Hearn remembers the Catholic Boys Home. He says he was nine years old when he went to the home around 1953.

"This particular group of Brothers of the Sacred Heart, it was a bad crop. They physically, sexually fondled our private parts," he said. He also says he never reported the abuse. Why not? "Who's gonna listen. I had no parents," he said.

Hearn says two Brothers, and a priest molested him and other boys at the home. Fox Ten News is not releasing the names of the alleged abusers at this time because no charges or official allegations have been made against them.

The Catholic Boys Home was not too far from the intersection of Dauphin and Sage Avenue. The Home closed years ago, but Hearn says he can never forget the things he experienced the years he lived there.

Hearn says in addition to the sexual abuse he was often beaten by the brothers. He showed us how metal coat hangers were used for punishment. He said, "And just wail the hell out of you."

Hearn has pictures, and awards, and medals to remind him of some of the positive things he's done with his life. He doesn't expect anything will be done about the abuse he experienced, but he hopes by speaking out he can help other more recent victims. His hope is that all abusers will ultimately be brought to justice. He told us, "And they should reap the repercussions of their actions."

By telling his story, Hearn says he hopes to let go of some of the pain he's been carrying for most of his 57 years.

The Catholic Boys' Home closed in the late 1960's. We tried to contact the Mobile Archdiocese for comment about the story, but our calls were not returned.


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