remorse-manuscript-socialandlegalstudies-websiteedition.doc

What had begun with intimate conversations about the

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sexually involved with one of his altar boys who was about 13 at the time. What had begun with intimate conversations about the boy’s problems at home led to discussions “about puberty and his own sexual desires(4).” (All quotes taken from case.) This was followed by advances that eventually developed into a furtive relationship that lasted for three years. One day, when the boy was 16, his mother found a letter that her son had written to Mr. R that she “described … as pornographic filth(4).” The father then contacted the supervisor of Mr. R’s religious order, wrote Mr. R a letter, and received a 25
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letter of apology in return. The matter was investigated by the local police at that time but no charges were laid until 20 years later by which time the victim was in his middle thirties. In the intervening years, Mr. R. had left the priesthood even though he was given the option to remain. He left because, in his own words, he “had betrayed (the victim) as a Priest(12).” Subsequent to his departure from the priesthood, he had married and become a father with one child. His request for leave from the religious community, his later involvement in counseling, and his application for dispensation of his priestly vows were all presented by the court as evidence of ‘deep remorse.’ In an allocution to the court(12), Mr. R. stated that I realized when I got a letter from(the father of the boy) that I had been really acting wrongly and I immediately sent a letter of apology to the whole family expressing my sorrow… I was really shattered by that letter and shattered also, at the fact that not only had I betrayed M.( the victim) and his family, but everybody and I decided I would leave the priesthood as my part of the responsibility for what I had done. I am extremely sorry for what happened to (victim) and to the family and in fact to all the people- all the people of God. I still am very very sorry and I deeply regret what happened. I also regret this- the terrible shattering it had on my wife and my daughter- all I can do is just say I am sorry. A letter of support from a psychiatrist attested that Mr. R. “experienced much anguish and remorse that continues to the present day(9).” In the intervening years, Mr. R. had changed vocations, married, become a parent and, according to the court, “was able to restore himself to law abiding productive status(28).” Meanwhile the complainant also submitted a statement to the court in which he described the psychological and emotional aftermath of these events. He felt alienated from his family and left home to live on the street shortly after contact with Mr. R. had ended. 26
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Following an attempted suicide, he was briefly hospitalized. He claimed further that he continues to experience great difficulty in maintaining relationships of intimacy- that his life has involved long term “anger and depression(24).” Comparing the two, the judge wrote that the victim had presented as ’intelligent, insightful, self-possessed, and articulate. He has accomplished much in the restructuring of his life.’ Mr. R., on the other hand, presented “ as a pitiful, dejected shell of a man who
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