Woman, 54, Says Priest Raped Her at Age 8

By Sarah Ovaska
Brownsville Herald
January 26, 2004

EDINBURG, Jan. 26, 2004 She remembers the small details: the flash of the sun on his watch; the blue walls in his church office; holding his hand as she walked down the hall from her classroom to his office

The walk an 8-year-old girl and a priest took in 1957 led to what the girl, now a 54-year-old woman, said is rape.

The memory of the alleged assault would not surface until more than 30 years later, when she began attending counseling for severe depression.

You dont forget something as traumatic as this, she said. Its just buried deep inside, waiting to come up.

The woman claims that the late Rev. Francis B. Beazley sexually assaulted her on two occasions while she attended third grade in an elementary school run by St. Josephs Catholic Church in Edinburg.

She is not being identified because of a Monitor policy to withhold the names of suspected victims of sexual crimes or abuse.

The priest she is accusing died in 1992 at the age of 79 in San Antonio. He was a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, a religious order.

Several phone calls placed last week to the Oblate headquarters in Washington, D.C., seeking comment were not returned.

Beazley spent only one year at St. Josephs in Edinburg, according to the Official Catholic Directory.

In 1957, St. Josephs and all parishes in the Rio Grande Valley were under the Diocese of Corpus Christi. When the Diocese of Brownsville was created in 1965, all personnel files of priests who served in Valley parishes were sent to Brownsville, said Marty Wind, spokesman for the Corpus Christi Diocese.

We do not have those records, Wind said. They (Brownsville) are responsible for them now.

The spokeswoman for the Brownsville Diocese, Brenda Riojas, indicated that she could not comment on the alleged abuse because the woman has not directly contacted the diocese.

We sustain our commitment to reach out to those who have suffered abuse and offer them any assistance that we can, Riojas stated in a written response.

Beazley left Edinburg and went to the Diocese of San Angelo, where he served until 1969, according to the Official Catholic Director.

No accusations have been made against Beazley in the Diocese of San Angelo, said Bishop Michael Pfeifer of San Angelo.

Theres never been any type of allegation of that type (sexual abuse) brought against him, or any misconduct, Pfeifer said.

From San Angelo, Beazley spent eight years in the 1970s in the Diocese of Baton Rouge (La.).

He then spent two years serving parishes in Colorado Springs, Colo., according to the Official Catholic Directory. A spokesman in the Colorado Springs Diocese could not confirm or deny if any accusations had been made against Beazley.

At Saint Josephs in Edinburg in 1957, the woman said she was in her third-grade class and could not recite some catechism prayers when Beazley walked in the room.

I didnt know the catechism lesson and all the prayers as well as the other ones, the woman said. He said he would take me to the office and talk to me.

The two went into Beazleys office where he asked her if she was scared. She replied no, according to the women.

After that, the woman claims that Beazley put her on his lap and molested her.

According to the woman, Beazley helped her clean up in his bathroom and said to the girl, This is what God wants, youve proved your love to God.

He also told her not to tell anyone about the incident.

A few weeks later, the woman said that she was sent to Beazleys office again and she was raped.

For years afterwards, she did not remember the incidents.

In my case, I totally blacked it out, she said. I always had in the pit of my stomach, a deep sad feeling and I didnt know why.

In a deep depression during the early 1990s, the woman said she began counseling with Leticia Nering, a McAllen-based licensed professional counselor.

Nering confirmed that she treated the women and said that she has seen half a dozen patients who claim to have been abused by Catholic priests.

I have seen several, Nering said. Its not just a little problem.

Nering said that she approached then-bishop John Fitzpatrick in the early 1990s after several of her clients reported the abuse to Fitzpatrick and asked him to take steps to remove the accused priests or stop transferring the priests to different parishes.

His response was that he knew nothing about it (abuse), Nering said. I said, You certainly do, I know the people that have spoken to you about this matter.

Nering said that more than the seven diocesan priests were reported to be sex abusers earlier this month by the Diocese of Brownsville.

Thats the tip of the iceberg, she said.

Meanwhile, the woman who claims to have been raped by Beazley said that she would not report her abuse to the diocese because she cant be around priests or other officials who are part of the Catholic Church.

Its hard to this day to see that clerical collar, she said. The white it just jumps out at me.

She no longer attends a Catholic church because she is too uncomfortable around priests.

I have my own relationship with God, she said.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.