SC sex abuse victim of ex-priest: 'He put a gun to my head and threatened to kill me'

By Anne Emerson
October 25, 2018

[with video]

It’s a story we brought you earlier this week, a former Catholic priest from Savannah pleaded guilty to nine counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor in a South Carolina courthouse.

The minors were just 9 and 13 years old at the time.

In an exclusive interview, ABC News4 spoke one on one with one of those victims.

After his abuser went to prison, locked up for 20 years, Allan Ranta decided to speak.

It’s a painful story to tell and hard to comprehend.

It's a story of a childhood stolen at 9 years old by a man, who prosecutors say, not only violated the trust of children, but violated their faith.

“It was a flash, it was like a still image and I knew exactly who the still image was and it shocked me,” says Ranta.

That’s how Ranta says his horrific memories of rape and abuse came flooding back, memories locked away in his mind for nearly three decades.

“The abuse started just before 5th grade, I was 9 years old, I went completely amnesial,” says Ranta.

Ranta was a student at St. James Catholic school in Savannah, Georgia, when he first met Father Wayland Brown.

“He would make everything a game first. It was before we had started school that year in fifth grade and he gave me a hug and when he pulled me in he pressed me in tightly right up against his body, and he would not let me go.”

Ranta says the Savannah priest Wayland Brown became his spiritual adviser and then his mother’s advisor.

“The piece that she didn’t realize was that the man that befriended her and who she thought was helping me was actually raping me and that was Father Wayland Brown,” says Ranta.

Ranta says Brown took him on field trips to South Carolina to abuse him.

“The abuse was extremely violent. He put a gun to my head he threatened to kill me, he threatened to kill my family and my dog, he liked to kill small animals, cats and squirrels, shoot them,” says Ranta. “He would blend Catholicism, his teaching about God, with satanic worship as well and demonic possession.”

The abuse went on while Ranta was in middle school, but the memories of the abuse resurfaced when Ranta was 37.

“I lost 15 pounds the first week, I was waking up looking at the door thinking that Wayland Brown, Father Wayland Brown was there,” says Ranta,

The Savannah Diocese paid Ranta $4.24 million dollars in a civil lawsuit in 2009.

However the statute of limitations had run out for a criminal conviction in Georgia.

That's how the South Carolina authorities got involved.

According to the indictment, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Hardeeville is one of three sites in Jasper county where the abuse occurred.

Once Brown crossed into South Carolina, the statute of limitations on his sex crimes disappeared along with his freedom.

The authorities could prosecute Father Brown for his crimes in South Carolina. And they did.

Brown was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years behind bars, a lifetime for the now 76-year-old excommunicated priest.

A lifetime stolen from Ranta.

But this investigation is not over.

In Brown's written plea agreement, the disgraced priest agreed to cooperate with authorities.

“The (Savannah) Diocese knew that Father Wayland Brown was abusing children and they did nothing about it. The people who protect and enable and perpetuate this are truly as responsible as a man who puts his hands on a child,” says Ranta.

We spoke to S.C.’s14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone who prosecuted this case. He says he still has questions for Wayland Brown and that he intends to get answers. The Savannah DA’s office has set up a dedicated tip line for similar cases.

That number is 912-652-8080.

We also reached out to the Savannah Diocese regarding Wayland Brown's sentencing. They responded:

"We hope that the victims are able to find a sense of peace."

The church in Hardeeville is under the Charleston Diocese’s jurisdiction.

We've reached out to that Diocese for comment as well. They echoed the Savannah Diocese's sentiments.


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