Fr. Bruce Wellems’ victim speaks out about crimes, “forgiveness”

By Joelle Casteix
Worthy Adversary
February 13, 2016

Fr. Bruce Wellems leading a December 2015 Posada procession at his parish … when he’s not supposed to be acting as a priest

Eric Johnson is the man who was sexually abused by Fr. Bruce Wellems when Wellems was teen and Eric was seven (photo above). In the piece below, he responds to Bruce Wellems’ statements to the Chicago Tribune. He also responds to commenters on this blog, who say that they are parishioners who say that they love and have forgiven the accused priest. 

Yes (Fr.) Bruce Wellems, molestation was a crime back then.

There is no doubt that Bruce Wellems has done good things for the community. Manya’s article seems to cover the majority of the accomplishments. My intent has never been to discredit the work nor undermine the progress in the Back of the Yards or other youth programs initiated by Wellems.  My intentions are and always have been to inform parishioners and those in the community of his past actions so that they can be informed, and choose their response. In other words, if they are informed, they can keep an eye out for inconsistencies and possible suspicious behavior by Bruce Wellems.

Let’s not forget that  Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky was also considered a champion of supporting “at-risk youth,” and even formed a foundation. It was only after many years that the public discovered Sandusky was also actively molesting these children.

For the past 20+ years, I have tried to inform people about Wellems, only to be met with walls of silence, denial, and lies. His attitude of “that was the culture back then” and his excuse of “behavior I exhibited as a teenager was ‘taught’ behavior” is reprehensible.

At no time in a civilized culture has raping a child been acceptable.  His self-prescribed penance of setting himself up to work with troubled youth is even more disturbing. He was a skilled predator at 15, presenting himself as a normal youth with a girlfriend, while repeatedly committing horrendous crimes behind his façade. I cringe at the thought of him being placed in his environment of choice, with young boys.

A 15-year-old having sex with a 7-year-old is a crime, and was a crime in the 70s, and yes, a sin.

According to New Mexico State Statute 40A-9-9, regarding Sexual Assault. It states that sexual assault, which includes molestation of “any person under the age of 16 years,” was a fourth degree felony.  

His partial admittance of abuse, lined with fabricated timelines, locations, and minimized contact, is shameful. His claim of being abused is quite timely and suspicious, given the fact that it was never mentioned to another reporter before Manya.

Wellems continues to shamelessly talk about himself and the repercussions, which speaks volumes.  Wellems says, “As much as I hate going through this, maybe it’s good.”

There is nothing good about a 15-year-old having sex with a 7-year-old boy.  A high school boy had sex with a second grader. Close your eyes. Picture it.

Wellems should be held accountable.

Not once has he ever apologized to me, or my parents. Now it is too late, my Mom is gone.

I want to thank my dear mother for doing the best she could as a single mom. She had no reason to carry this guilt on her shoulders most of her life. She passed in 2013, and I wish she were here to witness this event. However, now she can rest in peace.

When pressed by the Chicago Tribune reporter on the victim’s age at the time, Wellems stated he thought the victim was 11 or 12 at the time. When interviewed by another reporter prior to be interviewed by Manya, he claimed he couldn’t remember. Bruce Wellems knew I was younger than his brother Greg Wellems. He was and is well aware of my age at the time.

In 2014, Wellems said the accusations made by the organization that had “no factual basis.” (Pasadena Star Newspaper) ……   and now?

In 2014, after information came out, San Gabriel Mission parishioners were led to believe that the victim was also a teenager. This was another attempt by Wellems to hide the actual age of the victim.

In 2015, Wellems told another reporter that inappropriate contact occurred on two occasions, while remaining clothed; once while babysitting, and once in his Apache truck.  My older sister and brother confirmed that he never babysat me. He fabricated this story and he did not admit to the actual abuse that occurred over a year which involved him disrobing himself and me during the abuse. The contact was criminal and disgusting. No child should ever have to endure this from another human being.

“How can you make a mistake that causes so much pain to one person, live with it and go on?” Schultz said through tears. “He found a way to do it.”

Wellems didn’t initially admit to Susy Schultz his crime. According to her, he denied it when she first confronted him. It was only after an extended period of time (approximately a year) that she re-contacted me via e-mail and informed me that he had admitted the abuse to Schultz. (Though it is uncertain what story he told her) I was surprised to learn that she had two young boys at the time, and allowed him to be around them.  You can conclude what you want from her interesting statement above.

At no time in Wellems responses has he apologized for the damage to me or my family.  His response always turns to and reflects about how he has been affected. One would think a priest would know how to ask for forgiveness. At this point, I don’t know that it would serve a purpose, but he had plenty of time prior.

Wellems was interviewed by another reporter before the Chicago reporter. At no time did he bring up being molested as a child. 

It has always been concerning to me that Bruce Wellems positioned himself to work with “at-risk youth.”  As a teenager, he was obviously attracted to young boys.  As I stated before, at the time he had a girlfriend. However, he molested me behind her back.  He was in high school. Fifteen-year-old boys know the difference between right and wrong. Why would a person who knew they had an attraction to young boys position themselves to work with young boys? He could have positioned himself in many different areas of ministry, but he chose to work with young boys. I will leave that for you to conclude your own opinion.

I am a person of faith who has lived a life of feeling shame and guilt for a crime that was committed by a child molester. 

The only person who can forgive Bruce Wellems is me. I am the victim.

Those parishioners and outsiders who say they have forgiven him, have no right to do so, because they are NOT the victim.

They may choose to ignore all of the facts if they wish. However, a fifteen-year-old is mature enough to know that receiving oral sex, hand jobs, and other deplorable acts from a seven-year-old is wrong. This is not a lapse of judgment. This is deceitful, criminal behavior. I am sure that those of you who have children or grandchildren would be in horror if you discovered they had been molested.  

Parishioners wanted answers to their questions, and I hope I have helped.


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