Despite Confession, Mississippi Priest Can't Be Prosecuted for Molesting Boy
By Sarah Fowler
March 26, 2019
While on the lam in Peru, a former Mississippi priest confessed — in writing — to abusing a child in the 1970s. Despite the confession, the priest cannot be prosecuted for his crime by Mississippi authorities.
Last week, the Rev. Paul Madden was on the list released by the Catholic Diocese of Jackson of clergy "credibly accused" of sexual abuse. Madden was accused of molesting a boy in Ireland in 1973.
In a 2002 letter to the boy's mother, Madden admitted to the molestation. He also said that when he was confronted by the bishop in 1994 he admitted his guilt privately at that time.
Madden began working in Peru in the 1980s and was indoctrinated there in 2004, two years after the Jackson Diocese suspended his faculties.
He is currently retired and living in Peru, according to the diocese. He could could not be reached for comment.
|Father Paul Madden was on the list released by the Catholic diocese of Jackson of clergy "credibly accused" of sexual abuse. Madden was accused of molesting a boy in Ireland in 1973. He is currently retired and living in Peru, according to the diocese. (Photo: Jimmy ChalkGlobalPost)|
Last week, the mother of the victim provided the Clarion Ledger with letters — some copies, some originals — between her and Madden. The letters begin in 1995 and end in 2002.
In the last letter, Madden admitted to his crime and asked for forgiveness.
"Since 1973 I have been plagued with remorse and guilt for my molestation of your son," he wrote. "There is no excuse for my actions and I assume responsibility for them as a humble penitent."
Since the abuse happened overseas, Mississippi has no jurisdiction, according to Margaret Ann Morgan, spokesperson with the Attorney General's office.
The mother asked that her and her son's names not be used. She is currently 90 years old and living in the metro area.
Her son's abuse was first reported to the diocese in 1993. She never went to authorities, she said, and only discussed the incident with church officials.
In October 1995, at the mother's request, the diocese provided her with Madden's address in Peru.
A mother's anguish: 'Paul, why did you do it? Why?'
The mother first wrote to Madden on Oct. 16, 1995.
I'm sure this letter will come as a surprise to you. I need some answers and you are the one person who can respond with them.
Paul, did you ever have any idea what your sexual assualt on my son (name redacted) would do to him?
Did you ever think about how frightened he was and of being trapped in a foreign country when you abused him?
Did you think about the personal pain, guilt and shame he would carry for a lifetime?
Did you think about destroying his ability to grow in faith?
Did you think about your deception in conning us into believing our child would be safe with you, and your betrayal of that trust?
Paul, why did you do it? Why?
I'm sure my son was not the only one abused in your twisted life.
I have a lot of rage I need to get out. I have a lot of rage directed at you for the injustice done to my son and my family.
I cannot describe the effect it has had on me. I cannot describe the pain I feel for my son in his pain.
The church has mishandled this atrocious behaviour (sic) on your part. They have helped hide you out and helped you to run from the consequences of your actions.
The fact is the bishop nor church has shown no real concern to me or my son as victims.
I don't know if I'll hear from you but the least you can do is respond to this to help me resolve my feelings of hurt, pain and intense anger.
'...I will continue to pray for you,' the priest responds
Madden responded in a hand-written letter dated Nov. 30, 1995.
Dear (Name redacted),
I received your letter dated October, 16, 1995.
Pastorally I want to respond and say that I am sorry for the hurt, rage and pain that you are feeling. If I could do anything to alleviate your pain I would do it.
I know that it is difficult for you to address the intense feelings of trauma that you are experiencing.
The diocese has assured me that they have offered you therapy and that you have accepted that offer.
They have also reached out to your son (name redacted) emotionally, spiritually and financially. While these efforts do not take away from your pain they may be a small step on that journey.
I can only assure you that I will continue to pray for you that you may continue the process of recovery.
Mother to priest: You can help 'by showing some remorse'
On Jan. 5, 1996, she responded.
You stated "If I could do anything to alleviate your pain, I would do it."
You can begin to help alleviate my pain by answering my questions sent to you in October.
You can help alleviate my pain by showing some remorse with a personal apology to me for your abuse of my son.
'I have been plagued with remorse and guilt for my molestation of your son'
After she sent the January letter, communication between the two stopped. Then, nearly six and a half years later, Madden wrote another letter, dated June 4, 2002.
Dear (Name redacted),
It is with a deep sense of remorse and shame that I pen these few lines in a humble and sincere efford (sic) to express my sorrow for the hurt and pain that I have caused you personally, your son (name redacted) and your whole family. I recognise (sic) that any efford (sic) on my part does not take away your hurt and pain, but it may be a small step on that journey.
Since 1973 I have been plagued with remorse and guilt for my molestation of your son, (name redacted). There is no excuse for my actions and I assume responsibility for them as a humble penitent. I can assure you with all humility that when I was confronted by Bishop Houck about my actions in 1994, I immediately admitted my guilt and involvement. I went for a thorough evaluation for a period of a weeks duration and the evaluation center recommended that I would do a six-month course of intensive therapy and treatment at another recognised (sic) center. I completed my after-care follow-up program with the center for two and half years and maintained contact with a therapist since then. I have a Spiritual Director and a priest supervisor with whom I meet on a regular basis to maintain constant vigilance. In truth and honesty I can assure you that your son was the only victim of my misbehaviour (sic) and misconduct.
Until the day that I die I will continue to seek God's forgiveness for my actions against your son (name redacted). I will continue to try my best to make up for my evil actions by making every efford (sic) to perform good deeds. This is a cross that I bear in a small efford(sic) to try to make up for my misdeeds.
I recognise (sic) that writing all of this does not take away your hurt and pain, but it might in a small way help to alleviate it and begin a healing process. I have prayed for you and (name redacted) and I will continue to pray that some day you might be able to forgive me for my wrongdoing. I cannot undo the past. I have to live with the guilt. I promise to live the best life that I can and learn from my past mistakes. Also, I promise to keep both you and (name redacted) in my prayers.
She never responded.