When Blogging Gets Serious

by Ray Colon on September 16, 2012 · 27 comments

We write our stories and share them with the world, or more accurately, we share them with the tiny fraction of the world that visits our blogs. We can’t know who will read what we have written, nor how readers will respond to what we’ve decided to share. Once the writing is done, clicking the submit button evokes equal parts of satisfaction, excitement, and dread.

Sometimes, blogging gets serious.

In February, I wrote about my positive experience with a priest when I was a young boy. Forty years after knowing him, I became aware of rumors that this priest, Fr. Hugo Bedoya, may have been a predator. The post, Don’t Talk About These Things Again, examined the facts as they were presented in a subsequent civil action and asked whether a single accusation was enough to ruin a man’s reputation.

During the seven months following that post, I noticed frequent search engine queries of this priest’s name in my site stats. People were reading, but they weren’t leaving comments that could have answered the question: What were they hoping to find? I didn’t know what to make of it, but I began to suspect the worst.

A few days ago, I received an Email from one of those visitors. In our subsequent Email exchanges, I asked if I could share what he initially wrote to me, so that others who sought information on Father Hugo could read about his experience, which differed greatly from my own.

Here’s what he had to say.

Ray, about every few months I do a google search for Hugo Bedoya and I came upon your site. I knew Fr. Hugo when he was at St. Gerards in Hollis, NY back in the 70s. I was 9 10 years old back then and I lived a block away from the rectory. We became close and he liked to talk about puberty and sex. He was very good at what he did because he molested me a few times and I always blamed myself and never told anyone. He even took me up to Ottawa, Canada and we stayed at one of his old parishes. He made me sleep with the pastor who was his friend like I was a prize he was sharing with a friend.

Because of the lie I had with myself, I lived my life like nothing ever happened. Hugo even married my wife and I and christened both our kids.

I never told anyone a word until I was about 22, I told a close friend. That close friend kept it a secret until 2002 or 2003 when an article in a New York newspaper had Fr. Hugo’s name as a child molester. My friend called me and told me. In the paper was a name of an attorney and I contacted him. At that point I told my family and wife, I was 40 years old. A few months later I went to Albany, NY to the Supreme Court and one of the justices compared our cases to boys suing a lawn mower company years later for an injury. We lost the case. I read a few articles in NY newspapers from parishioners saying that they think Fr. Hugo was innocent. That hurt cause most Catholics back then thought that priest could not do anything bad.

I live in California and have been out here for about 20 years and I think the real reason I left NY was because of Fr. Hugo. I am married with 2 kids. That whole experience in my life traumatizes me even now. I really wish I was hurt by a lawn mower years ago instead of what I went through.

Bedoya took me to his old parishes in Brooklyn a few times and I might have met you. Do you know the other kids that were molested?

As I read the Email, my heart sank. Here was a narrative from an alleged victim who carries his childhood scars with him well into adulthood. The effects of the harm, perpetrated by one man — but abetted by the many people who knew but chose to look away — have been with him for most of his life and may remain with him forever.

This is the incalculable legacy of evil when reports of it are discounted, ignored, or covered up.

I don’t know whether other victims who may read this post will take comfort from the commiseration of their shared experience, or if it will pick at the scabs left by their abusers, but I offer it in the hope that the former is true.

When blogging gets serious, it’s difficult to know what to do.

I hope that the man who wrote to me finds peace and I thank him for sharing his story.

Author Bio:

Ray Colon has written 167 posts on Ray's Blog.

He works with numbers for a living, but don't judge - boring accountants need love too. His blog has no niche (unless writing about things that are important to him is a niche). Some folks cringe when he gets “all political” on them, but he does it anyway when he's in that kind of mood. Sometimes, he writes something nice about someone, but you shouldn't get used to that. His first book, the one he hasn't written yet, is not available on Amazon. Subscribe to Ray's Blog via RSS  or Email.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy September 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

Perspective makes being objective difficult. No one is ever truly objective, we bring all our experiences with us to our judgments. Empathy is an important in relating.

I agree, I hope this man finds peace. Moreover, I hope he knows that identity isn’t based on events that happen to us; we can choose who to be.

Reply

Ray Colon September 16, 2012 at 11:48 am

Hi Wendy,

I realized long ago that seeking objectivity, particularly on a personal blog, doesn’t work. If we are going to put our stamp on what we write, we can’t try to straddle the fence. To feign objectivity would be disingenuous. Having empathy, I agree, is very important, because if we cannot empathize with the plights of others, our relationships are bound to be incomplete.

I hope that he does view his role in shaping his own identity as you’ve described. We all should.

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elysiafields September 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm

This was hard to read.

“Here was a narrative from an alleged victim who carries his childhood scars with him well into adulthood. The effects of the harm, perpetrated by one man — but abetted by the many people who knew but chose to look away …”

I think it’s that way everywhere. In the version of the myth of Persephone, a pubescent girl raped by the god of the underworld, (see a connection between god and priest?) he does so with the blessings of Zues, and cooperation of “far sighted” Demeter, who somehow failed to notice that her brother had taken her daughter.

My point is that the church makes the truth of pedophelia all too glaring. It’s a mirror image of how it happens in society, with the cooperation of many who have their reasons for looking away.

The worrying thing is the the pedos threaten to gain a toe hold on a political platform for the purposes of striking down laws that prohibit sex with children.

They can’t be rehabilitated, but I will not take this ball and run with it.

This must have been so difficult to write. I’m struck by the impression that this leaves you feeling very, very flat and drained.

A big loss.
elysiafields recently posted..It’s A 5D World!My Profile

Reply

Ray Colon September 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Hi Elysia,

It’s a tough topic to think about. Whenever children are the victims, it’s impossible not to feel their pain and anger.

Yes, this is by no means a problem confined to the Catholic Church, as we know that abuse can be found anywhere, but the level of complicity of the Church is well documented and beyond what any of us could have imagined.

I don’t know if any headway has been made on the political front as you mentioned. I’ve heard of these efforts, of course, but I don’t think that anything has come of it.

The rehabilitation question is a tough one. Some believe that it is possible, but I have my doubts. I’d like to think that it is possible, but my gut tells me that it is not.

This was a difficult post to write, mostly because you want to tread lightly, but you also want to leave an impression — even if it’s a heavy one.

Reply

elysiafields September 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

I read somewhere that child porn has been decriminalized, if memory serves, in New York state. I hope I read wrong. It seems beyond absurd to think these guys could gain a platform, but there are a LOT of powerful pedophiles running things, and if what I read about the decriminalization of child porn is true, that it’s a big step in the wrong direction for civilization – already skidding on its slippery moral slope.

There is no evidence so far that pedophiles can be rehabilitated. Statistics seem to indicate that they will offend again, given the opportunity.

Maybe we should cut off their hands. Ha ha. And leave everything else in tact.
elysiafields recently posted..It’s A 5D World!My Profile

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Ray Colon September 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Hi Elysia,

I looked into the decriminalization in NY and was surprised to see that a judge had made a ruling in this regard, as you mentioned. It pertained to a claim by a particular defendant (one who is currently serving time on the many other charges he was found guilty of). Thankfully, legislators are working to correct this in the law.

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Mike September 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Thanks for the kind words. Just a correction to what I wrote in terms of years. I wrote that the newspaper article was in 2000 but I think it was 2002 or 2003. If it matters to any one. I was part of the 23 or 32 others bringing the church to court.

Mike

Reply

Ray Colon September 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Hi Mike,

You’re welcome. I updated the post to reflect your correction and removed your Email address from your comment as requested.

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Alicia September 16, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Thank you, Mike, for coming forward with your pain, and thank you, Ray for posting it here for all to read. It’s devastating and heartbreaking. My words are insufficient.
Alicia recently posted..Memory eternalMy Profile

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Ray Colon September 16, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Hi Alicia,

Yes, it’s definitely both of those things. We may sometimes feel that our words are insufficient (I know that I do) but they are really not, especially if they are words of understanding.

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Peter Faur
Twitter:
September 16, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Ray, thanks for writing this. Very human and very real. It’s hard to see a hero fall, I know.
Peter Faur recently posted..Grammar FridayMy Profile

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Ray Colon September 17, 2012 at 12:06 am

Hi Peter,

Thank you. People are bound to disappoint. There’s no surprise in that, but some falls from grace, pun intended, are too heinous to comprehend.

Reply

Rebecca Livermore
Twitter:
September 17, 2012 at 10:40 am

Ray, thanks so much for writing this. The difficult thing about this happening in the church is that church is a place where people feel safe — and of course, it should be a safe place. Sadly, these safe seeming places are where predators of all types seem to end up, as there are so many opportunities to abuse. So you’ll find pedophiles in churches, schools, scouts, and of course families. Being abused by anyone, but particularly by someone you trust really hurts.
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Ray Colon September 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Hi Rebecca,

The dangers associated with “safe places” give all parents nightmares. All it takes is news of an incident, like a bad babysitter caught on tape somewhere, to send parents everywhere into a panic. Unfortunately, you are right — safe places do provide opportunities for predators.

There are safeguards, as what parents have to go through to pick up their child early from school, but other dangers remain.

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Brenda September 18, 2012 at 12:22 am

That is beyond heart wrenching. My heart aches for the email sender, but I am also in awe of his strength to live beyond his pain. My only hope is he had help along the way and if he hasn’t, it’s never to let to find forgiveness – of himself. The priest and others like him who take advantage of trusting children should be required to stand trial, punished and locked in cell and never let out. It’s hard enough for a child to find his/her footing in this life without the weight of something like this. Ray, you’re a strong man to post and then follow up.
Brenda recently posted..You Lost That Loving FeelingMy Profile

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Ray Colon September 18, 2012 at 9:48 am

Hi Brenda,

True, it’s never too late to find that forgiveness. Maybe deciding to allow his story to be shared or the feedback that he’s received from it has helped. I know that we’re supposed to believe that justice will be meted out in the next life if evaded in this one, but I’m with you — I’d rather that justice occur in the here and now in our courts.

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Teresa Evangeline September 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Powerful post. I arrived via Elroy Jones. I am so grateful for bloggers who are not afraid to drop the artifice and reveal more of themselves and of life. Blogging does sometimes get serious, as it should.

Reply

Ray Colon September 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Hi Teresa,

Thank you. As you know, I expressed a similar sentiment to EJ on her latest post. It’s refreshing when we don’t try to pretend that everything is always fine when we’re blogging. Amen to “as it should”.

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Jodi At Heal Now and Forever
Twitter:
September 19, 2012 at 7:53 am

Mike and Ray,
Thanks for bringing this out in to the open. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is that the case was lost. Thinking of the power of the Catholic Church used to hide predators is atrocious! Patriarchy at play. I don’t even know what to say. All the poor children, and women, and men who have fallen prey to his abuse is horrific!
Thanks for sharing.
Jodi

Reply

Ray Colon September 19, 2012 at 10:38 am

Hi Jodi,

Thanks. My frustration was with the way the case was lost — an expired statute of limitation. Not having their day in court must feel like abuse all over again.

Power and influence can be dangerous things for those of us who have neither, which is most of us. For victims, it must be difficult to get beyond an unresolved situation like this, but they must try.

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Jean September 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm

That must have been sad/shocking for you to read of this direct personal story.
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Ray Colon September 19, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Hi Jean,

Yes, it certainly was surprising to receive that Email, but I was glad that Mike felt safe enough to share his story with me.

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Janice
Twitter:
January 11, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Ray,

I was jumping all around your blog. I know that it is difficult to know what to do when the topic gets serious and controversial, but it is through actually writing such blogs that the discussion can happen. This is a difficult topic and the effects are far reaching. Mike will always carry his memories, good or bad, but you provided a positive way to share both your story and his. We sometimes forget that our story is different than others.

Janice
Janice recently posted..Looking Ahead: Achievement In LifeMy Profile

Reply

Ray Colon January 12, 2013 at 12:03 am

Hi Janice,

I hope that you found some things of interest during your look around.

This post was difficult because it was such a sensitive subject for Mike and possibly for others who would read it. Not having felt their pain I was afraid of saying the wrong thing, or the right thing in the wrong way. But you’re right, writing it did prompt the discussion.

Funny that you should say that, ” We sometimes forget that our story is different than others.” While you were visiting I was writing a post about how I viewed the intentions of others through my eyes — wearing a cynical pair of glasses. As you could imagine, I was way off because of it.

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mike January 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Ray, I just wanted to thank you again for letting me tell my story. I feel that after Penn State and other horrible events that this is finally being looked at more serious.

I still don’t know where Bedoya is these days. But if he reads this, I would want him to admit what he did. That would be worth millions to me.

Thanks again
Mike

Reply

Ray Colon January 26, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Hello Mike,

I hope that you are doing well. I appreciate your stopping by to thank me again. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to help in my small way.

You may be right about Penn State and the affect that that highly-covered crime will have going forward. Perhaps it will encourage victims to speak out sooner and give them confidence that they will be believed.

As for Fr. Bedoya, I’ve heard nothing new, but I am hopeful that your wish is answered someday.

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