Priest Accused of Child Molestation Calls It His 9/11 Moment
By Julianna Crisalli
July 8, 2012
During Fr. Timothy Ramaeker's first weekend as pastor of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Aliso Viejo, protesters lined the street with signs that read, "Protect Our Children," "Pedophile Priest Raped my Brother" and "Matthew's 9/11 Moment Lasted 4 Years."
The three dozen picketers were family and friends of Matthew, a man who said he recovered repressed memories of sexual abuse by four priests and one layperson from 1978-86 at St. Justin Martyr in Anaheim. Ramaekers was one of the accused priests.
"I have been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor," Ramaekers said during his Sunday service. "No credible evidence to support the allegations of the plaintiff could be found. At no time have I been removed from ministry or placed on administrative leave."
Wide discrepancies and factual inaccuracies found during the investigation caused the accusations to be deemed false, according to church documents.
During his Sunday sermons, Ramaekers said he wanted to be transparent with the congregation despite the accusation being a topic he didn't want to talk about. Ramaekers used the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 as a metaphor for the impact the accusations had on his life.
"A 9/11 [moment] is something that we don't create. It's not something that we do. 9/11, when we look at it, it is not fair. It's not right. It's not just. We may be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but when we are in our 9/11 Ground Zero experience, our life is altered forever," Ramaekers said. "My 9/11 experience is being accused of sexual misconduct."
Mugs Haugen, Matthew's aunt, said the protest group plans to visit several Catholic Churches to argue against the diocese's policy of regularly rotating priests to different churches. The protesters said the practice puts more children at risk of abuse. Corpus Christi was their first stop.
"My son said to me that he feels the priests don't just get satisfaction out of the sexual exploits, but also satisfaction over having complete control over another person," said Bunky Carrigan, Matthew's father.
Haugen and Carrigan said their presence outside the church sparked negative reaction from the parishoners.
"If we can just help one child, it is worth it," Haugen said.