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  Molestations Haunt Family Years Later

By Ben Winton
Phoenix Gazette
August 5, 1994

In the late 1980s, George Bredemann, then a Roman Catholic priest, was supposed to be the man who would help two young boys overcome the trauma of having been molested.

Yet Bredemann also ended up molesting the boys. For his crime, he got one year in jail and lifetime probation, along with $60,000 from unknown sources.

He used the money to try to flee to South America. Authorities caught him, and now he's serving a 45-year term in Arizona State Prison at Florence.

But the pain Bredemann inflicted seven years ago on the first of his victims to come forward remains, their mother said Thursday, the day the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix settled with another family victimized by the defrocked priest.

At the time, Bredemann's victims were 8 and 10 years old.

The youngest flunked seventh grade, later admitting he did so purposefully because he feared adolescence and the sexual identity questions that come with it. The oldest refused to participate in a mandatory high school physical education class because it required him to shower with other boys.

Neither the boys nor their mother will have anything to do with the Catholic Church, which settled a lawsuit out of court with the family.

Their mother and the oldest boy, now 17, attend a Pentecostal congregation.

Her youngest son, now 15, will have little to do with religion.

But the boys' grandmother remains a devout Roman Catholic -- a sore point in a family nearly torn apart by the molestations and what the mother says she can only call vicious harassment by the church after she sued it.

"Every time my mother puts money in the basket at Mass, I say to her, 'You're paying for somebody else's settlement,' " the boys' mother said.

She said that the church dug deeply into the sexual activity of her uncles and her sisters, and falsely accused one of her uncles of molesting her in an attempt topressure her to drop the lawsuit.

She said that a white cross with her nickname, known only to Bredemann, kept reappearing in a vacant yard across from her house each time she tore it down.

Thursday's settlement came four days after Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien announced in all parishes that the church would fight a lawsuit by a Scottsdale family rather than pay a proposed settlement that he said was "excessive."

It is unknown what changed the bishop's mind.

Terms of the settlements in both cases remain confidential.

But the mother of Bredemann's first known victims says her sons will not have to worry about money for the rest of their lives. The settlement bars her from being more specific.

She said she remains embittered by the way the church and judicial system treated her case.

She said the judge who originally sentenced Bredemann to one year in prison seemed more influenced by a letter for leniency from O'Brien than the handwritten plea for help from her son to the judge, in which the boy spoke of his fear of priests and his nightmares.

"We need to believe our kids. Not these people who stand up and represent somebody else," she said.

She says she and her sons are careful not to put complete trust in any adult male figure granted the trust of society -- not police officers, doctors, coaches, school counselors and certainly not clergy.

"It can happen to anybody," she said. "You have to ask lots of questions and never let your guard down."

But life slowly is coming back together.

She only wonders how many other victims remain in the diocese.

And, she has some advice for the family that settled Thursday and other victims:

"You have to let them (the children) grow up and learn, but not to close their eyes and not pretend things can't happen to them again," she said.

"Follow through with getting help.

"The little things you think are normal teenage things are totally blown out of proportion if you are a victim," she said, recalling a time her youngest son saw a fish tank similar to one Bredemann had and "freaked out."

"I saw my oldest son go into a deep depression. They need to go to counseling. They need to know it wasn't their fault. That it was something . . . (that) was done to them.

 
 

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