Baldwinsville Man Says Talking about His Abuse Is Painful but Cathartic

By Renee K. Gadoua
Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
January 7, 2004

A man who says a priest sexually abused him 40 years ago considers this week's disclosure "a baby step" and calls on the Catholic Church to release the names of all priests guilty of molesting minors.

"It's like saying one of your relatives sexually abused, but I'm not going to tell you who," Charles Bailey said Tuesday. "You should trust your family, but you can't really do it."

Bailey, 52, said memories of abuse by the Rev. Thomas Neary haunt him 40 years later.

Neary died Sept. 17, 2001. Diocesan officials have refused to discuss allegations against him, but offered counseling to Bailey.

"I have nightmares that would keep Stephen King awake," Bailey said during an interview in his Baldwinsville home. A portrait of his four grown children and six grandchildren hung on the wall behind him, and a Christmas tree twinkled in the next room. Sue Bailey, his wife of more than 30 years, sat across the table, frequently stroking his arm as he talked.

"I can tell you what I was wearing," Bailey said of one incident. "It was a two-tone blue shirt and I had the khaki pants on."

At the time of the alleged abuse, Bailey said he was about 10, and Neary was assistant pastor at St. Michael Church, Onondaga Hill. Neary also served at parishes in New Hartford, Skaneateles, Hannibal, Durhamville, Norwich and Jordan, according to the Syracuse Diocese. He was named senior priest in residence at Most Holy Rosary, Syracuse, in 1986 and retired in 1995.

Diocesan officials confirmed Bailey reported the abuse in March.

"I wish to offer my profound apologies for any hurt you have suffered as a result of the despicable activities of one of our priests a number of years ago," Bishop James Moynihan said in an April 2 letter to Bailey. "I know that words are cheap, but what else can I do but apologize and pray for your healing."

Bailey said the diocese has paid about $3,000 in counseling bills.

Bailey said Neary raped him at least 100 times over two years in the early 1960s. He first told his story publicly during a May hearing in Albany calling on state legislators to extend the statute of limitations for prosecuting clergy sex abuse crimes.

Since reporting the abuse, he has been in counseling. He and his wife are co-leaders of the local chapter of the victims' support group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Talking about the abuse is painful, but ca-

thartic, he said. And the details never stray from his mind.

"He would come to me in his full garb and abuse me upstairs in my own bedroom," Bailey said, wiping away tears. "He would say he was doing God's will. He would say the Our Father while he was raping me."

Bailey said Neary warned him not to tell anyone.

"He said, "This is between you and me and God, and if you tell your parents, I'll take them from you,"' he recalled. "At 10, of course I believed him."

Bailey said he has met three times with Moynihan seeking spiritual healing. Moynihan has declined to discuss his meetings with Bailey.

"I feel distance between myself and God," Bailey said. "I need to get right with God. He (Moynihan) was very little help in that area."

He said he shared details with Moynihan, but he's not confident church officials understand the pain and shame victims experience.

"They like to use those fancy words. They don't like to say "raped,"' he said. "They say "misdeed,' "inappropriate touching,' "mistake.' That's insulting. I'm not a mistake."


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