‘Shame keeps so many victims silent’: MN clergy abuse victim speaks out

Minnesota Public Radio

Martin Moylan St. Paul · Aug 29, 2017

Joe McLean grew up the youngest of six kids in a devout St. Paul Catholic family. He was a product of Catholic schools, weekly religious classes and Mass every Sunday, including a stint as an altar boy.

Religious retreats and confession were a normal part of that life. At a 1981 retreat for teen boys at St. Mary’s church in downtown St. Paul, 17-year-old Joe met the Rev. Mike Charland, who was essentially on loan to the archdiocese from his religious order.

Charland ran the retreat, which ended with the priest hearing confessions in a secluded room. When Joe’s turn came, he owned up to something he had long kept to himself: He and his girlfriend had sex.

Charland absolved him, with no lecture. But then came a strange, unmistakably sexual hug.

“He was brushing his pelvis side to side against mine and suddenly I realize what he’s doing because he’s aroused,” McLean recalled in a recent interview. “He released the hug. And he held my face in his hands and then he kissed both of my eyes and then he kissed me on the mouth.”

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