Saturday, August 06, 2005

When it comes to sexual abuse by priests, the Jesuits still haven't learned their lesson

This is just sad. There are a multitude of victims of the Catholic priest sex scandal, but this victim was very different: Father James Chevedden was a priest molested by another priest charged to assist him while he incapacitated.
During this recovery period, Chevedden said, Connor sexually molested and physically abused him. The alleged misconduct is described in reports that Chevedden submitted to Jesuit superiors, in notes of counseling sessions with his psychiatrist and in private e-mails to family members.

Chevedden said Connor occasionally massaged his shoulders. One day, after Connor had pushed Chevedden in his wheelchair to a third-floor computer room, the brother allegedly placed one hand inside the priest's pajama bottoms and touched his penis.

Chevedden told family members that he was taken aback by Connor's actions and resisted any further advances. Days later, Chevedden alleged, Connor retaliated by ramming his wheelchair into a barrier, causing excruciating pain to both feet.

"I judge these acts of Brother Connor to be particularly cruel, because I was so vulnerable at the time," Chevedden wrote.

Connor, now 84, has denied the accusations.

Chevedden did not immediately report Connor's alleged improprieties to Jesuit superiors, because he was embarrassed and did not think they would believe him, he later told relatives and his psychiatrist.
Unbeknownst to Chevdden, the Jesuits had received similar complaints about Connor dating back to 1995 and, in 2001, he was convicted of felony sex crimes against adult mentally disabled victims at Sacred Heart. The following year, the Jesuits were accused of concealing the allegations from authorities. It was during this time that Chevvden told the Jesuits of his experiences with Connor. Due to Chevdden's mental illness, the Jesuits basically disregarded the allegations as paranoid delusions based on the publicity of Connor's case.

Connor was transferred from Sacred Heart in 2000, but he was returned to the facility in 2002 and Chevvden was once again sharing a residence with him.

After the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in 2002, at least five Jesuit members of the California Province who had been convicted of sex crimes or accused of molesting minors were transferred to the Sacred Heart facility. The picturesque retreat in the Santa Cruz Mountains provides a haven and support for Jesuit sex offenders.
Chevvden asked for, and received occasional transfers away fromt he facility, but was always returned there when he had difficulty handling stress. According to Jesuit superiors, Chevvden was sent back to Sacred Heart because it was the facility that was best suited for him.
"None of the communities he requested were able to provide the necessary level of support and supervision for a man with significant mental health issues"
The clergy convicted/accused of sex crimes that were transferred to Sacred Heart preyed on vulnerable populations, not just children but the mentally ill/mentally disabled as well. To say it's counterintuitive to house a population of predators and prey together, especially without strict observation/enforced restrictions to access is a drastic understatement.

After a fall from a 6 story parking garage, Father Chevvden died May 19th of last year - it was his 56th birthday.

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