Former Navy SEAL Sues Catholic Church
Treasure Coast Resident Says Priest Sexually Molested Him

News4Jax [West Palm Beach FL]
June 18, 2003

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A former Navy SEAL who sued the Catholic Church over alleged sexual abuse when he was an altar boy said all he really wants is an apology.

Robert Gillespie who now lives on the Treasure Coast far from his childhood church in Connecticut, said he blames the priest, but also the archdiocese for not being accountable about the alleged molestation. His lawyer filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Hartford.

As a Navy SEAL, Gillespie overcame the physical and mental hardships placed on one of the military's toughest and most elite fighting forces. But the demons of his past still torment him with an endless battle.

"It was a nightmare. It was the worst nightmare. I still have the nightmares. I still feel it like it was yesterday," Gillespie said.

It was a little more than 30 years ago when Gillespie became an altar boy at St. Clare Catholic Church in East Haven. The priest there was a former Navy chaplain, the Rev. Thomas Glynn.

"I hated and feared him," Gillespie said. "If I have to remember him right now I'll puke."

Gillespie says he and the other altar boys served as Glynn's bartenders, mixing drinks for him before Mass.

"He always told us 'I never want any of you wearing clothing under your robes,'" Gillespie said.

Gillespie, 40, said he remembers everything that happened in the St. Clare rectory, and everything that happened at Glynn's beach house, with explicit detail.

"That's where everything started happening. It's where I started getting sodomized and had to perform oral sex," Gillespie said.

Glynn held regular weekend outings for the altar boys. Gillespie said Glynn regularly sexually molested him for a period of three years.

Extreme military conditions couldn't break him, but Gillespie said Glynn did.

"Doing something to someone physically isn't as bad because the pain heals. But doing something to someone mentally will never go away," Gillespie said. "I don't want their (the Catholic Church's) money. I want an apology, and if I have to go to the Pope to get it, I will."

Gillespie will never be able to confront Glynn, who died 10 years ago.

The Archdiocese of Hartford would not comment on a lawsuit.


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