THE OHIO HOUSE OF DELEGATES, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
December 8, 2005
By Anna Marie Hanes-Martinez
[See also a history of Msgr.
Henry B. O'Donnell's career.]
Thank you for giving me your time today to tell my story to you and to attempt in some small way to help the children of Ohio. Which is why I have come all the way from Maryland. I would ask that my statement today, be incorporated into the permanent record of these proceedings. Thank you.
My name is Anna Marie Hanes-Martinez. I was born in a very devout Catholic family in Washington, D.C. I studied in Catholic schools. I admired and trusted my teachers, the nuns, and the priests in my parish. In 1950, when I was 13 years old, Fr. Henry B. O’Donnell sexually molested me and I have never been the same since.
When I was very little, maybe 5 or 6, I was introduced to Fr. O’Donnell along with many other brothers and priests from the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement Seminary in Washington, D.C. near Catholic University. Before Fr. O’Donnell was ordained in 1949, he carried on a romantic/sexual relationship with my Mother, who had recently been abandoned by my father. From what I can remember, I was 6 or 7 at the time, then Brother O’Donnell left the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement Seminary right before being ordained, and wanted to marry my mother. My mother would not abandon her Catholic religion – and also was not divorced from my father. When I was about 11 years old, my mother was sent away by our family. I was told that my “mother was sick and needed rest.” I still do not know where she went, but, I do know when she returned Hugh O’Donnell was no longer around. And, my mother was never the same.
In late 1949 or early 1950, Fr. O’Donnell was back on the scene
with my mother. But, this time on an afternoon after school, I went to
his residence which I did often to meet my Mother who was usually there
cooking his dinner, and while my mother was in the kitchen cooking, he
grabbed me and pulled me down on his lap.... To be quite honest, this
happened very quickly, and I was not shocked, because he had always been
very affectionate with me from the time he first met me when I was 5 or
6. However, within seconds he began kissing me, shoved his hands under
my blouse, my skirt and into my under panties causing me great pain.
In those days no one spoke of such things. I had nowhere to go and neither did my poor Mother. So both of us kept this horrible, dirty secret inside of us and all along blamed ourselves – and carried this guilt. My mother suffered horribly – each year her depression became worse ... but, she never lost faith. She continued to be a good Catholic until she died in 1999. However, my mother never had a day of peace or joy after that horrible afternoon in 1950. She was tormented. She was a victim of Fr. O’Donnell, as I was, and neither of us knew how to get out of the trap of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and all of the other horrible things that happen to us emotionally and spiritually when someone we trust hurts us this way.
When I was about 14, I became an entirely different child. I was disruptive in school. I questioned the Catholic religion. I disrupted my freshman class in arguments over religion. I continued to become very angry and very rebellious. I would do nothing that society or the RCC said was right … I would do just the opposite.
I made horrible decisions and exercised very bad judgment. I picked terrible people to be friends with, and continued with this behavior for years to come. I was never able to enjoy anything good. If I was in a “good environment” or a “good situation” or with a “good person,” I would find a way to sabotage it.
One day about 2 plus years ago, I was watching C-SPAN and heard a woman by the name of Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea making a presentation to the Bishops’ conference in Dallas, Texas. I sat and watched in complete awe and I listened to what she was saying. I had to stop and ask myself how she knew what was in my head. I had never met her. How did she know that I did all of those things, and how was she able to explain my feelings? All of those feelings of guilt and shame ... all of those feelings of no self-worth, no self respect, no self esteem. The feeling that I was a complete failure at everything.
Do you think I sound like a victim? Well, I was and always will be. A victim of a certain and horrible kind of murder – yes – Fr. O’Donnell murdered my soul and he damaged my mind and spirit. This man of God did the same thing to my mother! This crime that he committed against the both of us, is a crime of spiritual and emotional murder.... We were made to feel dead spiritually and emotionally. This in turn made a dreadful effect on our health, both mentally and physically.
My poor mother took her secret to the grave with her – Bless her heart. As she lived most of her life being tortured ... she got worse and worse, until she had to suffer ECT in 1996! She suffered so much pain – so much pain all at the hands of the “chosen one.” You may try to tell me that she was an adult and she was weak. Yes, she was weak – she was weak from worrying how to take care of a child whose father was an alcoholic and an abuser (emotional). She was at her lowest when Hugh O’Donnell came into her life. He was so kind and loving to her at the most vulnerable time in her life – and then he abused her
Did I ever confront my abuser, you may wonder. At the age of 18, I continued to question why? I would ask myself, “Why am I so different” – “Why do I feel the way I do” – I had no answers.
One day I asked if someone in the family that I was visiting would be willing to take me to visit him. I just explained that he was a long-time family friend, and we had not seen him in a long time, because he had moved to Ohio. So I contacted Hugh in the Chancery’s Office and asked him if he would meet with me and visit. I was driven to Steubenville, went to the Bishop’s residence ... and if memory serves me, Hugh had separate living quarters there. When I arrived (I had someone with me) he greeted us at the door. I introduced him to my friend, and he invited us into the living room. After a few minutes, he asked me to come into the kitchen and help him fix some iced tea ... and I did. I was going to ask him “Why” – when he pulled me to him, and began to kiss me very hard on my lips, I pulled away and told him to stop and if he didn’t I would tell my friend. He did stop ... we fixed the tea and went back into the living room – and acted as if nothing had happened. We made conversation ... he asked about my Mother, etc. ... this visit was maybe 45 minutes to an hour.... We left. And, I still had no answers.
In 1964, I called him again. I again wanted answers to why I felt the way I did. And, although I was not aware of exactly what it was that was causing this turmoil in my life, I believe he had the answer…. When I got him on the phone, we talked for a few minutes, and he asked how I was and how my mother was. I told him that my father had passed away in 1961. I also told him about my career and answered his questions about other members of the family. Then I told him about my torment, my feelings and asked him if he could help me sort everything out ... I told him I felt as if what he did to me and my Mom, had something to do with it. At which time, he called me a “slut” and told me I deserved everything bad that came my way.
I have been suicidal at least 4 times. The last one being just a few years ago. I am and have been on medication for depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Needless to say I have had trust issues since this happened to me. My mother trusted NO ONE after this happened to me and told me that I should not trust anyone, especially men.
Well, I am now 68 years old. I do not want to carry this to my grave, as my mother did. The RCC has a lot of dirty secrets but they are all beginning to come out ... slowly.
I pray that each of you cannot imagine what it feels like to be sexually molested by a priest. For it is a horrible feeling. Someone you trust, someone you love – someone who is like a member of the family. I thank God every day that my Mother had the courage and strong will to say NO to him when he asked her to marry him. For our lives would have been far worse than they have been and we have both lived hell on earth.
I am still in therapy. And, I have to see not only a therapist but a
psychiatrist regularly. I am married now. I have a very thoughtful and
compassionate husband who is a therapist and understands the horrors of
sex crimes. But, until I get this story out in the open and let the people
of Ohio know that one of their most well-thought-of priests, Vicar General
Monsignor Henry B. O'Donnell, was a sex offender ... I will not find peace.
I will be doing everything that I can, now that I have found my self-esteem,
to get the word out in Ohio that this priest sexually abused me when I
was a child.
I am asking each and every one of you to please, put the children of Ohio first in your deliberations on this Bill. This is why I have come so far. All of us are concerned for our children. They are our future, your future, we must protect them in everyway we can. This Bill will help them so much.
Thank you for your time today. Thank you for listening to me. This has not been an easy task for me, but, I remember how I felt as a child being hurt by this priest, and the memories are still so very, very vivid. I do not want anther child to be so badly hurt and tormented as I was. I am trusting that all of you will bring this Bill out of Committee, with a vote of 11 YEAs, for the children of Ohio.
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