Remember the Survivors

SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - Tennessee
The cover-up of clergy sexual abuse continues . . . how much longer?

Statement from John Doe at the trial

I entered St. Thomas Seminary as a freshman in 1967. I met Fr. O'Connell at that time as the director of students. During my sophomore year at the age of 15, Fr. O'Connell became my spiritual director. As part of the so-called spiritual direction and under the guise of psychological testing, he would put his bands on my penis to see if I could attain an erection. This was very uncomfortable for me but I trusted him - he was a priest and I felt he knew what God would have him do. Fr. O'Connell was a very charming and witty man. He would mentally challenge me during the counseling sessions. This was new for me and I enjoyed it very much. I did not enjoy the other things he made me do. These sessions continued twice a week for a little over a year.

After my years at the seminary, Fr. O'Connell kept in touch with me and the counseling sessions and abuse continued. I looked up to Fr. O'Connell and revered him. I always looked forward to his visits except for the abuse which I put up with for the sake of his advice and guidance.

I lost touch with Fr. O'Connell for a time and during this period my life was very mixed up. When later I rediscovered my interest in religious life, I reconnected with Fr. O'Connell and the visits resumed. At these times Fr. O'Connell would make me sleep with him.

The bottom line: I was physically and mentally violated by Fr. O'Connell. I have suffered many years of depression and loneliness. My relationships with co-workers have suffered, and I have found it difficult to hold down jobs. I have moved around a lot and have never been able to maintain an intimate relationship. I have a great deal or trouble becoming close to almost anyone. Fr. O'Connell took away from me my dream of being a priest while he was climbing the ladder to the office of bishop.

I come forward to bring healing for myself and to support other victims.