Justice not served

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Editorial and Opinion

The Chronicle (Dunville, Ontario)

15 December 2010

By CATHY PELLETIER

Mike Blum’s dream of seeing justice served this week dissipated into one final nightmare.

After four decades of suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder due to being abused as an altar boy at the hands of Donald Grecco, Blum was no doubt devastated to learn the former priest received a ludicrously lenient sentence: 18 months in jail and two years of probation.

When you consider the courage it took for Blum and two former altar boys to come forward and reveal the atrocities that have decimated their lives so others wouldn’t suffer the same fate, it’s an outrage.

A few months ago, The Chronicle sat with Mike and his wife at their Dunnville home, fighting tears the whole time he poured out his painful story.

Harbouring a sad past is harmful on many levels.

Only when his pain overshadowed his shame did a tormented Blum share his sordid secret.

Being haunted by a never-ending loop of terrifying memories, coupled with a lack of trust and faith in humanity, is just the tip of the iceberg for what most survivors endure.

Insomnia characterized by recurring nightmares, depression and stress consume the lives of many sexual abuse victims.

Statistics show that 80 per cent of them are successful at suicide.

The ripple effects are far-reaching, extending well beyond victims to all their families and friends.

When Gina -an extremely talented artist -brought out an enormous portrait she painted of her husband’s childhood, I wept, tears streaming down my face as I struggled to continue scribbling notes.

If he had the courage to tell the world his story, I wanted to do it justice.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Church officials he confided in didn’t take the same stance.

Father Michael Andrysiak of Dunnville was brave and ethical enough to question his superiors and a flawed court system that allowed a convicted sex offender to remain at large, while Mike and his family were subjected to countless court dates and interrogations, as if he were the perpetrator.

Throughout all this hell, Mike and Gina somehow found strength to beautify Dunnville, spearheading the colourful children’s mural that spans the Youth Impact Centre and three beautiful murals at the Salvation Army.

Meanwhile, Grecco made a mockery of the alleged “justice system” by repeatedly refusing to show up for court appearances.

His shamefully light sentence in the face of what Mike and his family have endured is the ultimate betrayal.

Article ID# 2890308

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