|Former Altar Boy Speaks on Alleged Sex Abuse
By Lindsay Curtis
July 13, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - This week, The Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi agreed to pay $1.2 million to three men who say they were sexually assaulted by a local priest 35 years ago. One of those men, who didn't want to be identified, wants people to know about the sexual abuse committed by the now deceased Father Hugh Clarke.
It was a Christmas card from Father Clarke that Joe's mom saved all these years that made haunting memories come rushing back. Memories of when the 49-year-old was an 11-year-old altar boy at Christ the King Church. Joe says he and other altar boys helped Father Clarke with odd jobs at the church and afterwards he would molest them. "(Clarke would) have you reach in his pocket to get paid. If you chose the wrong pocket your arm would be against his genitals, and then he'd pull you towards him like he was giving you a hug," explained Joe, "Behind closed doors, or wherever he could corner us, he was a predator. He was a fiend."
Years later, Joe and two other former altar boys sued the Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi claiming other adults knew about the abuse, but did nothing about it. "He didn't try to hide it. He left the door open when he was doing things," Joe said. He says until he saw the Christmas card, he had blocked the abuse from his mind. He says he now knows the reason behind a lot of behaviors he showed growing up including drug and alcohol abuse, and wetting the bed until he was a teenager. "I didn't know the reason I was wetting the bed was because I had been molested, because I had forgotten," Joe said.
This week the Diocese and the former altar boys reached a settlement. The Diocese says it's "committed to serving the needs of anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse by a church worker." Joe says the settlement was a symbol of closure for him and now he can move on with his life without the dark secret he had been hiding for thirty years. "My life from here out is going to be better. I can tell you that," Joe said.
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