Former Sheriff's Deputy Kim Allyn Discusses Sexual Abuse, Hypocrisy of Catholic Church on Upcoming Oprah Show

By Kimberly White
Mercury News
November 1, 2010

Retired Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Deputy Kim Allyn holds the same... (Shmuel Thaler/Sentinel)

SANTA CRUZ - When Kim Allyn and his then-wife began attending counseling sessions eight years ago to try to save their marriage, the counselor picked up on at least part of the problem right away.

"The counselor points his finger at me and asks, 'Have you ever been molested?'" he recalled.

Allyn had, in fact, been sexually abused by a Catholic priest when he was between the ages of 10 and 12. And the after-effects of those encounters, including a distrust of people in general - men specifically - and descents into alcoholism have haunted him throughout his life.

The retired Santa Cruz sheriff's deputy-turned-private investigator will tell his story in an Oprah Winfrey Show segment scheduled to air Friday evening.

Allyn, a 58-year-old Santa Cruz resident, arrived Oct. 20 at the production studio in Chicago, along with more than 200 other male survivors of sexual abuse who came from around the country to talk about how those childhood events have affected the rest of their lives.

A second segment involving interviews with family members of the victims is slated to air Nov. 12. Allyn said his son, 22-year-old Easton Allyn, was interviewed as part of that segment after he talked about his father parking his patrol cruiser in front of the schools he attended to ensure that he and the other children remained safe.

Allyn, who formerly held the bodybuilding titles of Mr. California and Mr. America, said that during the segment, he and the other men held up pictures of themselves at the ages when the abuse was occurring.

Allyn held up a picture of himself when he was an 11- or 12-year-old altar boy at St. John's Catholic Church in Felton. At the time, the head of the church was Father Patrick McHugh, who died long before the church entered into a $3.5 million settlement agreement in 2006 with Allyn and five other altar boys.

Allyn was contacted by producers of the Oprah Winfrey Show after they saw him in the movie "Boyhood Shadows: I Swore I'd Never Tell," a documentary about childhood sexual abuse that was released over the summer. The film chronicles one man's experience, but his story is intertwined with those of 20 others who still suffer from trauma inflicted when they were children.

When Allyn was 10 years old, McHugh began working with him and some of the other altar boys under the pretext of helping them improve their Latin. Allyn recalled the priest leading him inside the rectory and sitting down, then telling Allyn to stand up and take down his pants.

"I just freaked," he recalled. "I knew it was wrong, but he was a priest."

Allyn did as he was told.

After McHugh fondled and orally copulated him, he said, he ran out of the rectory and up the hill to the bakery that his parents owned to tell them what happened. His father claimed to have talked to the priest, but Allyn still wonders whether that confrontation actually took place. Business at the bakery - whose biggest day was on Sundays - would have suffered from any fallout over the abuse, he pointed out.

The segment, filmed Oct. 20, was prompted by recent revelations by media mogul Tyler Perry that he was sexually and physically abused by family members during his childhood in New Orleans.

After hearing about some of the other men's experiences during the taping, which he described as "gross and abhorrent," Allyn said he actually left the studio feeling better about his situation. The stories, he said, "are all salacious and emotionally charged and unbelievable at the same time."

For now, he hopes the segment will help bring a taboo subject out into the open and expose what he calls the hypocrisy of the Catholic church.

Many victims turn to drugs, alcohol and lives of crime as a result of their sexual abuse, Allyn said. He credits his Catholic high school for providing him with the life skills necessary to make a successful life for himself. He received a sports scholarship and attended San Jose State University. After graduating, he spent the next 33 years in law enforcement. He retired in 2008 and now works as a private investigator.


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