Victim Impact Statement
[Mother whose sons were sexually abused by Father Dan Miller ]
I am completing this statement both as a mother who has had to deal with the horrible truth that her children were sexually abused by someone I trusted and also as a person who has personally been betrayed by the actions of Daniel Miller.
I grew up in a large devoutly Catholic Family. I am one of 14 children. My mother was organist at our parish for 72 years. My brothers and sisters and I were raised with the belief that the church was the centre of our community and both the church and the priests assigned to it were to be treated with the utmost respect.
Daniel Miller had an aunt and uncle who lived across the street from our family home. As a child he used to visit there and came across the road often to hang out with our family because there were so many kids. He spent more time with my younger siblings because he is about 10 years younger than me. I have known him most of my life. When he arrived to serve at our church in Deep River I immediately welcomed him and offered my home and my family to him in friendship. I wanted him to feel welcome and accepted. Wednesdays were Father Miller’s day off and he had a standing invitation to join our family on Wednesday mornings for breakfast.
I have 7 children, 4 daughters and 3 sons. Father Miller showed a special interest in my sons. He often took one of my three boys on outings. Sometimes he took all 3 but it was usually one at a time. He came into our family at a time when we were very vulnerable. I was going through a marital breakdown and there were financial problems. He would take my boys for drives, buy treats, and take them on overnight visits to Renfrew. These were things I couldn’t give them. I was grateful for his offers and I sent my boys without hesitation. I thought of how kind he was to extend himself to my sons in this way. Looking back on it now I can see that he showed no interest in my daughters, it was only my sons. I realize now that what I thought was kindness and generosity was really a plan to have me trust him enough to let him access to my sons. I feel used. He used me and my desire to make him feel welcomed and loved to gain access to boys he could abuse for his personal gratification.
I think the worst betrayal was when he agreed to counsel me because of the sexual abuse I had experienced as a child. I shared that hurt with him and how I blamed myself for what happened to me. How I felt unworthy and the affect that these feelings I had were having on my life and my relationships with others. He told me it was not my fault and that I should forgive my abuser. All the while he was abusing children himself. He was abusing my own sons. This makes me sick.
I still recall the day I innocently asked my son [redacted] why he chose to have a community pastor marry him instead of Father Dan. I guess [redacted] was tired of keeping the secret and when he asked me if I really wanted to know I suddenly felt my world start falling apart. I confronted Dan Miller and without any prompting from me he told me had molested all three of my sons. I had no idea. Until you have experienced it you would never know what it is like to have that conversation with your children. To go to them and tell them you know what happened. The guilt I feel for not knowing, for not seeing when I myself had been a victim of sexual abuse – how could I not have known. People tell me the fact that I didn’t know or suspect is a testament to the ability of Daniel Miller to deceive. I see it as a personal failing. I should have known. I should have protected my children.
I wonder now how my sons listened to me speak of Father Dan in the highest regard. How they must have suffered and struggled internally knowing what he was really like while I still believed in the sham that I thought was real. I can only imagine the confusion in their little minds as children. I wonder now how they would have felt when Father Dan performed my second marriage and they had to sit there and watch all the while feeling like they couldn’t tell me about how he had violated them.
My children lost their innocence. Their childhood was stolen from them and they were put in a position where they had to deal with feelings and emotions they should never have known. They kept the secret for decades while they watched me continue to allow Daniel Miller to be a part of our lives.
My sons have dealt with this each in their own way. I am proud of them and their successes but I see how they have been damaged. I see their lack of trust and how they isolate themselves from others. I seldom see [redacted]. He buries himself in work and seldom comes home. He says when he comes home he is forced to remember. It is just too painful for him.
I would also like to comment on how Daniel Millers betrayal of my trust in him has affected my relationship with the church. I cannot separate these 2 parts of my life – family from church because the church was my family. I stopped attending church in 1999. I couldn’t reconcile the words from the priest’s mouth with the actions of the church. When I informed the bishops of what Daniel Miller confessed to me I was told they could do nothing. That it was out of their hands. I told the church authorities that if I saw or heard of Dan Miller officiating at church I would march to the pulpit and tell the truth about him. I would not be a part of any attempt to keep his secret. That he was a child molester and that people needed to keep their children away from him. I was told I couldn’t do that and I said “watch me.” I had let my sons down by failing to protect them from a pedophile in a priest robe but I would not see it happen to anyone else. The bishop told me to seek anger management counselling. I was insulted. Anger doesn’t begin to describe the way I feel. I hold Dan in utter contempt and refuse to address him as Father Miller.
No church authority has ever approached my sons to validate them, thank them for their courage in coming forward, or to offer them counselling spiritual or otherwise. Meanwhile Daniel Miller continues to benefit from the churches protection. He is still housed, supported, allowed to administer to the Grey Nuns – how can that be?
Even with is admission of guilt I hear people defend “poor Father Miller”. That these “supposed victims” should be ashamed of themselves for making up these stories. That this is all about money. To protect my son’s privacy I say nothing. I have no doubt that Father Miller will have numerous letters of support attesting to his kindness and generosity – I was fooled by his kindness and generosity too. It came with a very high price. My family and my sons in particular pay for it every day with damaged lives and lost potential. I do not want what has happened to be trivialized, minimized or downplayed. This has caused real damage to real people’s lives. We live with it every day.