Church Protected 'Predators'

By Tom Stephens
The Oregonian
August 15, 2005

Regarding the Aug. 11 letters attacking Peter Carlich and his decision to go public about the sexual abuse he suffered as a young boy: Father Gerald Dezurick was my religion teacher when I was a 13-year-old freshman at Mt. Angel Prep High School in 1957. He sexually abused me, and I was witness to his sexual abuse of another student. This is not a "questionable recollection."

It happened. I sued Mount Angel Abbey in 2003, and after a year of interviews, depositions, mediations and so on, I settled without going to court. [The settlement stated that the "defendants deny liability" for the "alleged sexual molestation" by Dezurick.] Why did I wait 40 years to talk to someone about what had happened? It took events in Boston to shake my belief that a priest could do nothing wrong.

Was it about money? That's how we punish people in our culture -- we deprive them of their wealth or their liberty, so yes, it's about money.

Was it just an evil man operating in an otherwise good church? Let the abbot of Mount Angel Abbey tell us all why Father Gerald was moved from parish to parish all those years, allowing more and more trusting young boys to be victimized. That may be the biggest crime of all -- the protection given all these predators by bishops and abbots.

I thank Carlich for telling his story ("Emotions high as archdiocese, 68 plaintiffs begin crucial talks," Aug. 8).


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