July 1, 2013 06:00 AM

I read with interest "The One Who Got Away" and "The Day Primeaux Died" by Walter Pierce in the April and May issues of IND Monthly.

I read with interest "The One Who Got Away" and "The Day Primeaux Died" by Walter Pierce in the April and May issues of IND Monthly.

As the mother of a female victim of a Protestant preacher/pedophile I want to let Lafayette readers know that, based on my personal experiences, the Catholic hierarchy and the Protestant hierarchy are exactly the same in treating the topic of their clergy being responsible for sexual abuse of children. Both groups want to ignore the question and avoid accompanying negative publicity, which would involve prosecuting these clergymen for their crimes. As attorney Tony Fontana so succinctly said in "The One Who Got Away," "The rapist puts on the ski mask; the preacher's got the collar."   

My 5-year-old daughter was sexually abused by the then-preacher at the Protestant church we attended. This was about 31 years ago when this abuse took place. She suppressed these memories until she was about 22, then she shared them with me. After I recovered from the shock of her abuse I went to Baton Rouge to see the man who is the head of our denomination in Louisiana. He holds the same position in our church as Bishop Michael Jarrell holds in the Diocese of Lafayette. I was told by this Protestant leader that there had never been any sexual abuse allegations toward this preacher before, but "he would look into the matter" and put my letter in the minister's file. When I wrote this head clergyman again about going to higher authorities in our church, he told me I had already contacted the highest authority in our church - him - and there was nothing else he could do.

There were two reasons I did not sue the church and the minister involved. One, the statue of limitations. Two, my daughter had had a catastrophic brain injury and no longer remembered the abuse. The injury left her incapable of testifying against her abuser. Like "Bradford Port" in "The Day Primeaux Died," my daughter also descended into alcohol abuse, failed relationships, etc. She had her brain injury at the age of 23. She is still recovering from it 13 years later.

Today, in 2013, I believe the trigger that started her down the road to brain injury was the abuse she suffered all those years ago at our Protestant church. I believe people are ashamed and afraid to come forward after they have suffered sexual assault at a church, be it

Protestant or Catholic. As to the Protestant and Catholic leaders, I can only assume they are ignorant of the assessment and prognosis of pedophilia and/or they are protecting their jobs. I suspect the latter. They must have missed Jesus's words when he says in Luke 17: 2,

"But whosoever shall occasion the fall of one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and drowned in the depths of the sea."

Parents should be aware of the signs of sexual abuse and respond AT ONCE to such signs. In 1982, when my daughter's abuse occurred, she clearly displayed the signs of being molested, as she did later when she entered puberty. As the years progressed, I knew something had happened to her. I strongly suspected that "something" was sexual abuse of some kind by someone I knew. But I never once suspected the preacher of our church until that August day when my daughter began sharing with me her trauma.   

I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Stuller Sexual Abuse Response Center, now part of Hearts of Hope, for the help they gave us during what can only be described as a terrible time. Protestant clergy are as likely to be child molesters as the priests of the Catholic Church. The fact that these men are married does not exempt them from being sociopaths.  

Priscilla Weldon-St.Germain


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