VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT OF BEVERLY McMAHON
Our son was abused — not by a stranger, but by someone we knew well and trusted unquestionably.
How are we dealing with this devastation? Let me tell you!
I’ve known Hod since my late teens. He taught by husband and was welcomed into his parents’ home. We’ve known him throughout our engagement, wedding, birth of our children and through most of the years of our marriage. He participated in all of our special occasions and celebrations, for ourselves, our parents and our siblings. He was even our son Patrick’s confirmation sponsor — our abused son! Sadly, we will celebrate our upcoming 50th wedding anniversary dealing with our son’s tragic abuse.
Hod was a priest but also a trusted friend — or so we thought! He abused that trust and friendship, but that is nothing compared to the fact that he abused our son Patrick who was too confused and frightened to tell us or anyone else. Can you imagine how that makes us feel? We couldn’t even help our son. You just didn’t hear of sexual predators in those days. We were completely nave. Had we ever heard of such things we would never have invited any priest into our home. I am so upset and so angry that I was no naive.
A priest consecrates the host, the body & blood of Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Hod celebrated Mass in our home on many occasions. Little did we know he was abusing Patrick at night and offering up the body & blood of Christ at Mass in the morning. What hypocrisy! Our faith has been shattered! We cannot attend Mass. Each time I see a priest offering up the host I am almost sick to my stomach. We would never have believed Hod was a pedophile. A priest is supposed to do God’s work. Whom can we trust? I have been avoiding my many Catholic friends who will be shocked that we have turned against our church — we who were so blindly faithful. They don’t know yet of this abuse and will be utterly shocked as well.
I find I can’t sleep at night and I’m continually going over all this in my mind. My concern is for our son and his future.
Yes, I know there are many good priests, but also many abusive ones — many more than anyone ever imagined. Abuse is rampant and what we are aware of is only the tip of the iceberg.
Our beautiful little boy, innocent and trusting, preyed upon! I am unbelievably saddened and depressed to see how this has affected his life and our lives. Our son was seriously ill and sent to Children’s Hospital in Michigan. For two months we worried that he would not survive. After this illness Hod gave him all kinds of extra attention, more than his brothers but we felt Patrick needed it, considering all he had suffered. The abuse was beginning just at the time of puberty, a time of many mixed feelings and confusion. I am so angry but I also feel so guilty and responsible for allowing this to happen to him.
Patrick had always been a good student, his three brothers thought him the smartest. They have all been successful but Patrick certainly has not reached his potential. He is our best public speaker but has social difficulties. As a teenager we felt that he becoming introverted and took him to a psychiatrist who was unable to detect the problem. Our son later told us that he only skipped school once in his life and spent that day by the Detroit River contemplating suicide. We were heartbroken and devastated. Today (May 31, 2011), I read in the newspaper that the small country of Belgium has revealed five hundred cases of abuse and thirteen related suicides. I could never, ever deal with that.
Patrick has a lovely wife and two beautiful daughters who have also been affected by this devastating experience. His joy in life has been destroyed, his spirit has been broken by Hod. He is depressed, his moods are affected. He is seeing both a psychiatrist and psychologist and is on medication. He is not working as of recently. Every day our hearts are breaking as we watch him suffering. I can’t relax until hopefully he can function once again.
When Patrick finally told us of this abuse we were shocked and shattered. This poor child from early pubertyon has dealt with this abuse, keeping it to himself all these years and suffering horrendously. At first he was adamant that we were to do nothing. Then he was only going to notify the Bishop so he would be aware. Thank goodness he changed his mind and went to the police as the Bishop was already aware of many allegations, as were Hod’s superiors. This was not a simple, once only mistake, but continuous abuse over many years, not only of our son but many others as well.
I am appalled every time I think of Hod being chosen to start the first new Catholic High School in Windsor in many years. Brennan/Corpus Christi had been in existence for many years but Assumption for many more years and that is the school that parents wanted their children to attend. I am totally shocked and angry that Hod was put into this position of trust when many allegations had been made against him prior to that time. This not only abused the parents’ trust but exposed all of those students to potential and actual abuse.
We are so proud of Patrick’s courage and strength in going to the police. He was the first complainant to finally be listened to and now many others have been heard as well. We commend our Windsor Police and are so thankful for this successful investigation.
I love our son and hope that justice will prevail. Even though he won’t ever forget the abuse, I hope he will be able to move forward with his life. He has much to live for and my greatest desire is for him to be happy and enjoy his family. Then I will be happy and my husband and I can move ahead with our lives. I will forever feel responsible for his abuse, his depression, for bringing Hod into our home and almost the ruination of Patrick’s life. Can I forgive myself? I don’t know. I was naive. I was downright stupid. I certainly cannot take the years back and start over now that I am aware.
Can I forgive Hod? I don’t know. It is too soon to tell. Surely he must been mentally ill. Can I forgive his superiors, our bishops and those priests who knew and did not tell us? I think not. They were aware of the rampant abuse and still our bishops protect the abusers. The sexual abuse is hidden and covered up to protect the image of the Catholic Church. Everything the predators and their protectors have done blatantly goes against the teachings of God and the church. No concern has been shown for the abused, hurt and suffering victims. I am so very angry that they have abused our trust this way. These bishops and superiors are every bit as guilty as the sexual predators. I can’t accept that they have gotten away with this and we have all been such fools. It makes me sick. No wonder I feel angry, sad, depressed and cheated.
Needless to say, our other three sons have all left the Catholic Church.
In addition to the police for their dedicated investigation, I want to thank the Crown Attorney’s Office for their kindness and sensitivity to us and for their devotion to justice.
I also applaud the media for bringing all this sexual abuse to the attention of the public. It is so important to make the public aware of this so that they will be on guard and can better protect their children. Awareness and justice are our only hope. It is too late for us and so many others, but hopefully awareness will prevent much future abuse.
Dated at Windsor, Ontario this 1st day of June, 2011.
Congratulations to Beverly McMahon for her superb article. Being a convert to the RC church after marriage, I was always surprised by the awe in which catholics held their clergy. She is right on when she says that the hierarchy are also to blame. Shame on us all for not standing up for what we know is right. Good for Patrick for coming forward. What a service he has performed. We are glad that this sordid scene is in the open and we pray that Christ will prevail in our world. Many thanks to the McMahon family.
John and Audrey Payne
My heart bleeds for you. I know the pain and anguish you are living with. My own mother is going through the same thing right now as I speak to you. You did nothing wrong! You seem to be a kind, loving parent who lived in the same huge black shadow that we all have lived under for so many years; fear of reprisal for speaking up. Please be proud of yourself and your son. You still have great years ahead. Mike
Mike, Are you Jesus Christ? Your heart Bleeds! No one knows or understands fully someone else pain! Only God knows
I find it particularly pathetic that we must, as Bev McMahon puts it, protect our children from priests in the Roman Catholic Church. This organization seems to me to be the personification of evil. Who says that Satan prowls the world looking to ruin souls? He doesn’t have to prowl, he should just sit back and let the Roman Catholic Church do his dirty work for him. Mike