Advocate: Survivors of abuse by clergy ‘not alone’

By Marlee Ginter
August 17, 2015

[with video]

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The most traumatic moment of Bill McAlary’s life happened in 1958. Nearly 60 years later, he’s still visibly shaken just talking about it.

McAlary says a Catholic priest molested him when he was a 12-year-old altar boy in Ionia.

“I woke up. He was molesting me sexually, on his knees next to my bed,” McAlary recalled. “That’s how I woke up.”

He said he immediately told his mother, but she didn’t do anything about it.

“I didn’t know what the right word was for a pedophile, but I knew what the word ‘queer’ meant. She said she didn’t know what it meant and didn’t do anything,” McAlary recalled.

He remembers going up to his room, where he stood and stared for 45 minutes. With no support, he continued Catholic school under the same priest.

“I drank myself into alcoholism for the next 20 years to bury that because it was so traumatic,” he said. “I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t deal with it.”

McAlary said the assault turned his life into one disappointment after another, including two failed marriages and 20 different jobs. He said he still has a difficult time trusting people, especially those in authority.

He discovered four other possible victims of the same priest, but because of Michigan’s statute of limitations on sexual abuse against a minor incidents that happened before 2001, it was too late to pursue criminal charges.

“I repressed it so successfully and then drank on top of it to get rid of it, to remove the pain that we don’t remember it until we’re adults and then it’s too late,” he said.

He said the priest went on to be celebrated as he retired with full Catholic benefits.

Last week’s permanent removal of a Grand Rapids priest brought back haunting memories for McAlary.

Charles Antekeier, who retired in 2000 after serving at several churches in the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, was removed from the ministry following allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. He is no longer allowed to present himself as a priest, but he will maintain his pension.

McAlary leads the Michigan chapter of the national group SNAP, which stands for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“You’re not alone as a survivor of this terrible childhood abuse. I’m a survivor,” he said. “Please come forward and report it.”

He says Michigan’s statute of limitations is antiquated.

In 2001, Michigan removed the statute of limitations for first-degree criminal sexual conduct cases against minors, but the change was not retroactive. That means incidents that happened before 2001 are still subject to time limit on prosecution.

There is a bill in the state legislature to retroactively move the statute of limitations. House Bill 4231 is currently before the House Criminal Justice Committee.


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