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Survivor’s emotional account shows devastating impact of abuse

Here at White Law PLLC, we often write about the long-term effects of clergy abuse, which survivors must manage for the rest of their lives. This can include things like shame and guilt, PTSD and even financial ramifications.

The most powerful accounts, however, come from survivors themselves. One individual’s recent impact statement following the sentencing of the abuser demonstrates just how wounding these actions can be.

From spiritual guidance to abuse

When the survivor, identified only as John Doe, went to Rev. Patrick Casey in 2013, he was looking for spiritual guidance. At 24 years old, Doe believed he could trust the church. Instead of offering support, Casey used the opportunity to assault the man, coercing him into engaging in a sex act, according to a criminal complaint.

Casey was one of the Michigan priests criminally charged over the summer of 2019 as part of the state attorney general’s investigation into clergy abuse. In October he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor aggravated assault charge, and the following month was sentenced to 45 days in county jail and a year on probation. He must also attend sex offender counseling.

It was after the sentencing that the survivor offered a firsthand account of what he had endured.

Casey ‘utterly failed in his role as a priest’

After Casey’s sentencing, Doe offered an emotional impact statement. What he shared provides a window into the life of a survivor, demonstrating why clergy abuse can be so devastating. Doe explained he was suicidal when he went to Casey.

“I was drowning, I needed help, I needed a shepherd,” he said.  Casey chose to contribute to the pain and confusion, Doe said. He did not connect Doe with a health professional or crisis group, nor did he suggest speaking to another priest – all things the survivor said could have helped. Instead, Casey took advantage of the situation. In the years that followed the incident, Doe said he drank heavily to deal with constant pain and rage.

“I hope someday he really understands the gravity of what he did, even if he doesn't care,” Doe said. “The archdiocese said a confessor should be a father, a teacher and a doctor. I sincerely believed in my heart I had found a family to belong to and that I would receive help. Instead he preyed upon me. He utterly failed in his role as a priest.”

As part of the guilty plea, Casey acknowledged his actions, and according to Doe that provided some closure. Despite everything that happened, he still prays for Casey.

“I hope he doesn't lose his faith,” Doe said. “If anyone deserves to lose his faith from all this it's me. But I haven't.”

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