Case Closed : Abuse Acknowledged
By Atina Roberts
September 11, 2015
An end to a chapter has come for one man.
David Clohessy formally filed charges after alleged abuse at the hands of Father John Whiteley while Clohessy attended St. Pius X in 1991. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City recently reached a settlement with Clohessy.
According to statements by Clohessy, “he was intimidated into silence because of his trust in Whiteley, his belief that Whiteley was a close family friend, his perception of Whiteley’s greater physical strength, and his young age. He also alleges that the abuse caused him to repress the incidents so that he was unable to know or perceive that he was a victim of sexual abuse or that he suffered injuries from that abuse.”
Clohessy shared he began to realize in 1987 that Whiteley had abused him. It wasn’t until later in Clohessy’s life he was able to connect both his physical and emotional injuries to the abuse he says Whiteley caused.
A story “Former Rolla priest facing sex charges,” first appeared in the Daily News in Rolla in 1991.
“The 34-year-old man seeking a jury trial spoke with the Daily News and identified himself only as David, because of immense family complications.”
It stated Whiteley, “regularly and repeatedly engaged in unpermited, harmful and offensive sexual contact, upon the then-minor…John Z. Doe.”
Clohessy was John Z. Doe.
The story continued, “The alleged incident occurred when Whitely was serving at St. Pius X Church in Moberly.”
Whiteley served in the St. Pius X Church from 1969-1971. Whiteley also served Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Kirksville from 1970-1975.
The diocese settled with Clohessy for $40,000. The statement the diocese released said Bishop John Gaydos “extend to him an apology for the abuse that he reported.” They confirm that a settlement amount was reached to aid Clohessy with his “needs for healing.”
Clohessy originally requested $200,000 to pay for therapy and medical expenses over the years.
Clohessy said in the news release. “I’ve spent way more than $40,000 on therapy alone.
Still, I’m grateful.”
The diocese also required Clohessy cease all lawsuits regarding the “reported abuse.”
“David said his motives for filing were to send a message to parents, ‘“They ought to be careful who they trust their children with,”’ stated David, by the Rolla newpaper.
All could only wonder – how could this have happened? A visit Thursday afternoon with Michael Wegs, secretary-treasurer, Come to the Stable/The Stephen Spalding Foundation of Marion, Iowa, a former Moberly resident who attended St. Pius X School, was able to answer that question.
[e priest (Whiteley), called a student out of class, the teacher sent them,” says Wegs. To read more, go to the blog by Wegs http:]
Whiteley was removed from his duties with the church in 1991.
Wegs and Clohessy both have made it their mission in life to raise awareness for the trauma that is caused by abuse from a trusted adult.
Clohessy serves as the National Director for SNAP. The website for the organization stated, “SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (www.survivorsnetwork.org) is a self-help group that supports people who have been victimized by clergy, and helps them try to pick up the pieces of their lives, heal and move forward. We also cooperate with news media and provide reliable information when we can, as a way to help ourselves recover and prevent future abuse.”
Deacon Dan Joyce, director of communications for the diocese, declined to comment in any other complaints have been received regarding Whiteley. Joyce did direct those who have been abused to contact their local law enforcement officials and Mike Berendzen with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City.
Wegs stated, “Child Molestation at St. Pius and elsewhere needs to be acknowledge when discovered and as information about the case comes forward so that those involved receive as much justice as possible and other potential victims learn that they, too, need not live is silence.”