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  Woman Recounts the Abuse That Scarred Her Life

By Larry King
Philadelphia Inquirer
April 3, 2002

She is a grandmother now, but Mary Logan still weeps over an abiding childhood memory.

She remembers being led, at age 10, to a bedroom of St. Richard's rectory in South Philadelphia, by a man she had been taught to trust as God's envoy.

The priest would pull a ballerina outfit from his closet, Logan said, and would tell her to change out of her school uniform in the bathroom.

When she would emerge in the pale pink costume, "he would have me lie down on the bed. He would tell me I had the legs of a dancer, that I had beautiful legs," she said. "And then he would begin to touch me," penetrating her with his fingers.

The episodes, Logan said, continued for months. At 56, she views them as the prelude to a life marred by failed relationships and disabling depression.

Three weeks ago, prompted by recent revelations about sexually abusive priests - and by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's refusal to identify them - she decided to speak out.

"So much has been lost to me because of what happened," said Logan, of the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia. "He hurt me, and probably other children, for the rest of their lives."

Logan is different from some who have come forward to describe past abuse by priests. Most are men who recall events in their teens and who have sought money or apologies from the church. Logan says she wants neither. What she seeks, for herself and others, is the balm of being believed - and of seeing the abusers named.

To buttress her story, Logan has offered to take a polygraph test, released medical records, and provided names of old classmates. That information led a reporter to a Maryland man, 65, who remembered the priest and the costume closet.

Logan identified the priest as the Rev. William N. Killian, who died in 1965 after 30 years at St. Richard's.

In February, archdiocese officials said they knew of 35 priests, living and dead, who had sexually abused a total of 50 children over the last five decades. They have declined to identify those priests, saying that doing so might further traumatize some victims.

Logan says she called the archdiocese last month and was offered an apology and counseling, but she was not told whether Father Killian was among the 35.

Contacted for this story, archdiocesan spokeswoman Catherine L. Rossi, too, declined to say whether Father Killian's name was on the list or whether the church had ever received a complaint against him.

"We appreciate the pain of victims and can understand why some might want the names of their offenders made public. However, not all victims share that sentiment," Rossi said. "Some have told us that disclosing the names of priests would raise anxieties where there has been some sense of closure."

Logan thinks naming names would help people like her.

"It doesn't matter to me that it happened in the '50s," she said. "They should be identified because they violated everything that they stand for - goodness and kindness and gentleness and caring."

While it is difficult to know how many of a person's emotional problems may stem from such situations, those who work with victims of childhood abuse say Logan's history is familiar.

"These victims deal with these injuries for the rest of their lives," said Terry Houck, a deputy district attorney in Lehigh County who specializes in such cases. ". . . It usually sends them into depression or drug addiction or alcohol addiction."

By day, Logan holds a frontline job at a health-care facility. Away from work, she has struggled with matters of intimacy, self-esteem and trust. "It's still in the back of my mind that someone will hurt me," she said. "If I couldn't trust a priest, who could I trust?"

At 21, on her wedding night, Logan said, she locked herself in a hotel bathroom in Ocean City, N.J., sobbing with fear. The next morning, she called her mother and begged to come home.

Two years later, Logan said, while she was pregnant with her only child, she would not let her doctor do prenatal examinations.

She was divorced in 1979. In short order, she married and divorced again. A series of unhappy relationships followed.

Gradually, Logan told her siblings of her childhood abuse. Her older brother, Jim Boggs of Tacoma, Wash., recalled being "flabbergasted when she told me. Then I started putting two and two together. . . . She was very introverted all of her life."

At 49, Logan was diagnosed with severe depression. She threatened suicide and was taken to Abington Memorial Hospital's psychiatric unit, where records say her troubles "probably stem from abuse that she received from trusted individuals (not family) as a child."

Elsewhere, her records, which note that she showed no signs of being delusional, elaborate: "Molested . . . by priest - told mom who reported it, but nothing was done about it."

On the days she was abused, Logan said, she had been sent to the rectory at lunchtime to help open the mail, a task that was supposed to be an honor.

Each time the abuse occurred, she said, the priest "told me that it was our secret, that I didn't need to tell anyone."

After several months, she told her mother.

Soon thereafter, her mother, now deceased, "told me that she went up there, and that I didn't have to worry anymore, that I wouldn't have to go over to the rectory again."

As far as she can remember, no one spoke of it again. The priest remained in his post.

A Philadelphia native, William Killian was assigned to St. Richard's in 1935 and served there until shortly before he died at age 76. The former Army chaplain was an ardent fund-raiser credited with building the current church, which opened in 1951.

Father Killian seemed fond of children, and they of him, said Msgr. Charles J. Schaeflein, who lived at the rectory from 1956 to 1963 while teaching at Roman Catholic High School.

Many afternoons, Msgr. Schaeflein recalled, he returned from classes to hear children in the pastor's living quarters.

That struck him as unusual, but innocent. "They always sounded happy, like they were playing," Msgr. Schaeflein said.

He emphasized that he neither saw nor heard of any aberrant behavior by Father Killian.

Several of Logan's old classmates said they, too, recalled nothing unusual.

But one classmate, Kathleen Kellmer of Cherry Hill, asked her older brother, Thomas Louden, 65.

"She said, 'Tommy, do you remember Father Killian?' " Louden said in an interview. "She asked me if I remembered anything unusual about his behavior. I said, 'His behavior? The man was a pedophile!' "

Louden is a retired federal facilities manager who lives in Columbia, Md., and who once studied for the priesthood. At age 8 or 9, Louden said, he attended summer school at St. Richard's - where one day, Father Killian "took us up to his bedroom and he had all of these costumes; it was like a costume shop."

He said the priest made the children strip to their underwear and don skimpy outfits. Louden was dressed as Tarzan; another child was a showgirl.

Louden does not recall being touched, but he remembers the priest reaching down to adjust his loincloth as the boy lay face-up on a bed.

"You knew certain things were wrong," he said. "I can remember trying to keep my legs crossed, and Father Killian would arrange the skimpy little costume around my legs. He was directing a play of some sort."

One girl "had no clothes on at all. He made her dance like a nymph with a piece of chiffon in her hand," Louden said. "Now, I had never seen a naked little girl. I don't think my sisters were born yet. And all of a sudden, I saw this little girl . . . trying to do this ballet jump, and she had nothing on."

Louden doesn't remember telling anyone about it.

Mary Logan no longer goes to church, Catholic or otherwise.

"I pray at home, or wherever," she says. "But I am not an active member of any religion. I feel like I was betrayed."

The recent headlines about priests and child abuse prompted Mary Logan to call the archdiocese last month about Father Killian. Was he still alive? She was told he was not.

Was his name on the list of 35 priests? She was not told.

An official who spoke with her apologized for what she said she had been through, and invited her to come in for counseling. She declined, opting instead to contact The Inquirer.

A few days later, when told of Tom Louden's account, Logan cried out and began to sob. At first, she was unable to speak.

Finally, she managed to say, "All these years . . ."

 
 

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