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  Former Priest Given 10 Years for Molesting Deaf Boys in 1970s

By Philip P. Pan
Washington Post
November 20, 1996

Though the deaf men did not speak, their anguish was clear in their gestures and in the expressions on their faces in the Prince George's County courtroom.

One wept as he described in sign language how being sexually abused as a child led him to drug addiction and broke up his family. Another became so agitated he jumped out of his seat in the witness stand, aggressively pointing at the defendant, his former priest and teacher, William Earl "Jay" Krouse IV.

"I was afraid of you! I didn't want to do it! But you had that beautiful white collar on, and I was afraid!" the man, now a 40-year-old landscaper, said yesterday.

His words, and those of three other deaf men who were molested as children by Krouse in the early 1970s, were translated by courtroom interpreters who tried to capture the emotion of the testimony in their own voices.

Krouse, 51, a former Catholic priest who was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday for molesting six boys he met as a teacher and pastor, sat facing his accusers as they confronted him. He understands American Sign Language and did not need the translations by Juna Owen Beckford and Betty M. Colomomos.

Circuit Court Judge Steven I. Platt called Krouse's crimes "a violation of the human right of these children to lead a dignified existence," before imposing the 10-year jail term, the maximum outlined under a plea agreement worked out in September.

Krouse pleaded guilty that month to six counts of "unnatural and perverted sex practice" upon the boys, who were ages 10 to 14 when he befriended them between 1970 and 1978 at the Catholic Deaf Center in Landover Hills and the Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick. Krouse had justified his actions by citing passages from the Bible, said Assistant State's Attorney Lloyd Johnson.

Several defense witnesses emphasized Krouse's contributions to the deaf community -- he helped establish several churches and community centers for the deaf in Maryland and Florida -- and his attorney argued against a jail term because the man's father is terminally ill.

At the end of the 2 1/2-hour hearing in Upper Marlboro, Krouse stood and spoke. "I went into the ministry because I always felt I wanted to help people. That was my calling and that's what I did," he said. "I'm not the kind of person who would intentionally do something wrong. . . . Is what I did wrong? Yes, it's wrong. It's absolutely wrong."

Turning to face his victims and their families seated in the courtroom, Krouse asked them to accept "my apologies for this terrible, terrible thing. I had no idea that this was wrong at that time, that what I did hurt you. . . . I'm truly, truly sorry. I hope someday, deep in your hearts, you will forgive me."

Yesterday, the men were in no mood to forgive.

"I'm very happy with the sentence because we need to protect the deaf children and the deaf community," said one, now a 38-year-old professor at a local university. "There's a lot that he's done for the deaf community, but we've suffered for what he's done to the deaf community."

The three other victims who testified were brothers, and each said he did not know at the time that the two others also were being molested.

The first to testify, a 39-year-old who lives on disability payments, described how Krouse led him to the wrestling room of Cole Field House at the University of Maryland, where Krouse's father was the varsity wrestling coach.

As he did with all six victims, Krouse then showed the boy the steam room and told him to get undressed.

"He was touching me near my private parts. . . . I said, 'I don't want that.' He said, 'You'll be okay. Relax,' " the man recalled. "I felt like I could not get away. There was no one to help me."

He said Krouse lost his temper once when he tried to resist.

"I was trying to leave. I said I didn't like this. I said I didn't want to do this anymore," the man said. "But he said I was being a baby. He started slapping me, pushing me and kicking me."

His brother, the 40-year-old landscaper, recalled how Krouse showed him verses in the Bible and told him he could not have a girlfriend.

"He said if I touched a woman, it would be a sin. . . . I felt like I had no choice," he said. "You! You showed me those things. You showed me the Bible. You kept telling me all those things and kept lying about it.

"You controlled my mind like a puppet. . . . I was your slave," he said. "I'll never forget what happened. I'm going to have nightmares my entire life."

 
 

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