Abuse Case Plaintiff Seeks Accountability

By Tom Moody
December 2, 2007

CARLSBAD — Courage may be defined as the ability to act bravely in the face of fear. That word can be applied to victims of childhood sexual abuse who come forward to confront both their own demons and those who allegedly assaulted them.

The deep shame the victims have carried from blaming themselves for the things that happened to them is finally overcome when they realize, that as adults they have the power of choice. These victims realize they are no longer under someone else's control, either physically or mentally.

That is the case with the alleged victim whose lawsuit was filed in Carlsbad this week against Franciscan friar Kerry Guillory, a former Catholic youth worker here. The plaintiff claims he was sexually abused by Guillory as a teenager in the late 1970s, and is suing the brother, the order he belongs to, two dioceses and two local parishes.

In several interviews with the Current-Argus this week, the victim, now 49 years old, said he has realized he has the ability to choose his own thoughts; he can choose to have a great second half of his life, which is what he really wants and believes God has for him.

Under its policy with regard to sex abuse allegations, the Current-Argus is not printing

the name of the victim.

The Las Cruces Diocese said in a statement that it would be inappropriate for it to comment on the case as diocese officials do not have all the particulars and it is a matter under litigation.

No more silence

"I came forward after 30 years for several reasons," the plaintiff said. "I have been hearing and watching about the investigations across the country, and I have been listening to the other victims talk about it. I want him (Guillory) to be held accountable for what he did."

He said the trauma of the abuse is something that has haunted him his whole life.

"This is something that never leaves you," he said. "It's always with me. When my one daughter was having her first birthday with cake all over her face, I wanted to be totally enjoying it. Instead, I was thinking about what happened to me."

He said he wants to see and enjoy his daughters graduating and getting married, too.

"I want to be a good father to them and have them know I love them."

The plaintiff was active in his church and was a leader in the Catholic Youth Organization when the alleged abuse began to occur, he said.

According to court documents, as a student and parishioner at San Jose and St. Edward Catholic churches, he was under Guillory's supervision, care and control between the ages of 13 and 17.

Guillory is accused of initiating inappropriate physical contact with the boy that later escalated to sexual assault. In one instance, during an out-of-town trip with the teen, Guillory allegedly provided the boy with enough alcohol that he passed out. He later awoke to find himself being assaulted by the friar.

Court documents detail multiple physical, mental, psychological and emotional problems caused by the years of abuse.

"It was like I got thrown off track, like everything I believed in was a lie," he said. "It overwhelmed me; it was such a violent act. I can see now that some of the things I did to myself, like self-mutilation, were because I felt someone should be punished for this, so I punished me."

The plaintiff said he has been successful at many things he tried, but then he would self-destruct and feel lost and powerless.

"I have mostly tried to deal with this on my own, I have just been too embarrassed to let people know what happened," he said. "I would always just try to bury it."

He said he thinks for Guillory to be exposed now will be its own punishment.

"I hope he has trouble sleeping at night and is uncomfortable around people," he said. "I want him to feel the same things I have felt. When he wants to retire and relax, that's not going to happen. I think a lot more people are going to come forward."

Change needed

The plaintiff said the biggest thing he wants to see come out of the lawsuits against the church is change in church policy on celibacy. He said he and many others think it is at the core of the church's sexual abuse problems that have been documented over many years.

"I am not attacking the Catholic church," he said. "I hope maybe this case and others might make the church rethink their policy and employ married men. They would have a much better selection of people to choose from."

He said he really wants the church to listen concerning the vow of celibacy.

"They think they are showing God they are sacrificing for him, but he is not calling them to this sacrifice," he said. "God does not want sacrifice, he wants obedience. He wants obedience to his word. If they would stick to what the Bible says, we would not have this problem."

He said he thinks that God, in his wisdom, has given us his rules to live by, but then the church leaders add their own rules that have taken the church off course.

"I think there are many good people in the church, but a pack of wolves can ruin it for everyone," he said. "Why don't they admit they are wrong and change?"

The plaintiff said he thinks church leaders should repent for allowing these molesters to keep on molesting others, moving them to other locations and not dealing with the problem.

"Everyone makes mistakes," he said. "It takes more of a man to admit you are wrong and change. Who cares how bad you look. This is about allowing people to come to terms with problems and go on and live a good life."

Church response

In a prepared statement, the Diocese of Las Cruces said officials there are very sensitive to the needs of the victims of abuse and encourage them to come forward for emotional and spiritual support.

"Bishop (Ricardo) Ramirez and Elizabeth Grinnell, the diocesan victim assistance coordinator, are available to speak to any victims who request their assistance," the statement said.

The two can be reached at the Pastoral Center in Las Cruces at (505) 523-7577.

Guillory is now the operations manager of the Franciscan Shelter House in Louisville, Ky., which provides meals and clothing to the needy. In numerous phone calls, the Current-Argus has been unable to reach him, but he reportedly has denied the accusations.

"Nothing happened," Guillory told The Courier-Journal in Louisville during a brief interview Wednesday.

Brother Robert Baxter, a spokesman for the Franciscan province of which Guillory is a member, said he wasn't aware of any previous accusations against Guillory and couldn't comment further because he had not seen the lawsuit. He said standard procedure calls for brothers accused of sexual abuse to be remove from ministry pending an investigation.

Becoming free

The plaintiff said he feels like he is in more control of his life now than he has ever been.

"I don't have the extreme hatred in my heart anymore," he said. "I have my whole life in front of me. I have a sense of purpose now. I just trusted someone I should not have trusted."

He said that by coming forward, he also hopes he can help others who have been abused come forward and get some healing in their lives.

"Our purpose is to seek and save the lost," he said. "If I can help someone to be a better person, then I have left something behind me after I am gone that will last. Man has the ability to change the direction of his life."

The plaintiff said he wonders what he will feel like when the case is finished.

"I wonder what awaits me," he said. "I wonder what I will feel like. I hope it makes me a better person. I believe I am capable of so much more than I have done. I want to pay attention to life around me and not be locked in a dungeon all these years."


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