He Hopes to Break Church's Secrecy

By Ron French
South Bend Tribune (Indiana)
January 3, 1994

Low self-esteem, shame, guilt and suspicion of other's motives all plague Schrader, who also has to deal with memories of the priest he says molested him. The 25-year-old says the priest not only stole his youth but destroyed his faith in the Roman Catholic Church, which he feels betrayed him.

This ruined my life," Schrader says. I have feelings of betrayal, of broken promises, of shattered trust in a church that demands just that - trust."

Gossip about the case has long since disappeared from local parishes, but for Schrader the sexual contact allegedly forced on him by James Blume - a former priest at St. John's Catholic Church and school in New Haven - will never fade.

Blume and the diocese refuse to discuss the events that Schrader says began back in the summer of 1982. Schrader, however, says he wants to talk about it in the hopes that his story will force the church to take steps to protect its children.

Be careful," Schrader warns the diocese, or you're going to see more Pat Schraders at your door."

He says it all began shortly after Blume arrived at St. John's as an assistant pastor in May 1982. The jovial priest struck up friendships with many of the boys at the church, but gave Schrader, a shy and introverted teen, preferential treatment.

It was the kind of attention Schrader never received at home, where he was one of seven children.

If we'd go play golf or tennis, I'd get to ride in the front seat with him," Schrader said. I'd be the last one he'd drop off. He said I was special."

Late in July, Blume asked Schrader to accompany him to Blume's parents' home in Mishawaka for the weekend. Schrader was excited. Going out of town for the weekend without parents was a big deal for a 14-year-old.

But that excitement turned to anxiety when Schrader saw the sleeping arrangements in the home: He and Blume were to sleep in one double bed in the guest room. That night, Schrader says Blume molested him, but instead of telling his parents or friends, he continued meeting the priest, who told him their contact was OK.

He was supposed to be a priest, someone who is supposed to be delivering the truth to God's followers," said Schrader. And he was saying these things about unconditional love."

Schrader lied to his parents and friends at New Haven High School,

saying he needed to walk a different route home, when he actually was

meeting Blume in a nearby parking lot two or three times a week.

The tentacles of the relationship were wrapping tighter and tighter

around Schrader.

When he was transferred to the Cathedral of the

Immaculate Conception, Blume got Schrader a job as master of

ceremonies at the cathedral, a prestigious job for a 16-year-old.

Schrader says Blume sometimes would take him to a priest's room in

the rectory to have sex between wedding ceremonies.

He totally manipulated me. He knew what he was looking for," said Schrader.

Everyone knew the altar boy was spending a lot of time with the priest. But as quickly as the ugly thought entered their minds, they chased it away.

He was a priest. It was unthinkable.

After Schrader told the local bishop about Blume's abuse in 1988 - three years after he finally broke off the relationship at age 17 - Blume was forced out of the priesthood.

He spent six months in a clinic specializing in the treatment of pedophile priests - a program that today costs more than $50,000. He is now a counselor in a chemical dependency program in Montpelier, Ohio. By comparison, the diocese paid for about $800 in counseling for Schrader.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend faced a messy lawsuit that's now been resolved. The terms of the settlement remain confidential.


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