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.