Patrick McMahon: Victim Impact Statement

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[Read in court 08 June 2011] 

I was sexually abused when I was 13 years old by YOU, Hod Marshall — Catholic school principal, Basilian priest, family friend and my own sponsor for Confirmation. You called me your Godson.

When you decided to start getting into my bed, repeatedly, and violating me — you violated everything I had been taught and everything I believed in. You violated my trust, my faith, my self-respect, and my innocence. In many ways you destroyed parts of my life that were yet to be, and because of you, never have been. Before I had ever even kissed a girl I had a grown man in my bed pulling my pants down, whispering in my ear, telling me lies. I’d like to tell you what happened when you destroyed my confidence and self-worth as a child, but after 30 years how can I separate who I am from who I could have been?

I look back now and see I went from winning an award for academic excellence in Grade 8 to being a decidedly middling student thereafter. Before you, I believed so thoroughly in myself and my academic abilities, that I felt life was limitless. After you, I feared adults — especially teachers, I trusted no one, and to put it quite simply, I underachieved and withdrew from everyone and everything. You stymied my academic advancement, my social and sexual development, my career opportunities and my spiritual growth. I could spend hours detailing a life of loneliness, and despair — hoping to die, planning my own death, staring into the Detroit River as a high school student. Listen to me so I can tell you of a lifetime without friendships, of 30 years of depression, addictions and suicidal thoughts that burden me to this day. You will hear the damage those things in turn have wrought upon my wife, my innocent children. (Even though I realize you have no concern for children or anyone but yourself.)

Listen to me so you know for the rest of your life what price I paid these past three years pursuing this matter: . . . losing my job last year which I know was influenced by this pursuit of justice, an inability to this day to focus on my job and perform to my ability, the pain of telling my parents and living with the guilt they endure because of YOUR actions not theirs. The few friends I did have silently drifting away. I can’t even count the number of days I’ve had at work sitting at my desk trying to prepare a report and I am 13 again, afraid to get into bed — wondering if I should try to hide. Some days I literally sit at my desk and bang my fists against my head trying to pound memories of you out of my mind. Will I ever function to my capability when you haunt me to this day?

My wife is a beautiful and loving woman who has supported me through this every single day. I love her but I want you to know that we struggle every day to make our marriage work because what you did to me changed me forever. When you abuse a young boy, you change the man he becomes — the husband, the father. And when I say father I mean a daddy to children, not some pedophile priest hiding behind a collar. By hurting me you hurt my marriage. By hurting my marriage you hurt my children. Just the time, energy and emotional investment I have had to put into seeing you brought to justice for your crimes was time and love taken from them. How sad I am when I have to repeatedly tell my 4-year-old daughter that she never lets anybody but mommy and daddy into her bed?

On top of all that, I am now seeing a psychiatrist, and taking multiple medications every day to try and stay my own hand from taking my life so my children will have a father as they grow up — even if I am only half the father I should be. If nothing else, I have to live so they can be protected from the likes of cunning deceivers like you

I pay for my medications out my own pocket as I am unemployed, I spent thousands of dollars on sexual abuse counseling, I have a $4,000 bill outstanding from a lawyer who did nothing, and I have to defend myself against people who accuse me of bad intentions.

You abused me in Windsor, in my own bed with my parents, your life-long friends, asleep right on the other side of the wall. You abused me in Sault Ste. Marie in the Priests’ Residence of St. Mary’s College High School where your Basilian order’s motto was displayed for all to see: “Teach me Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge.” When you were done abusing me, you went down the hall and got into bed with another boy and abused him. That’s right — I heard you and I cried because I didn’t know how to stop you. I didn’t know how to stop you from abusing me, from abusing that boy down the hall and all the others I feared would come after us.

I suffered silently not knowing how many others suffered like me but knowing you were a powerful and respected man, a principal, a priest, my father’s friend. How would I look — standing against you? I feared you but didn’t even know enough to show it, as the confusion, and shame overwhelmed everything else. Even as I stand here today, I can scarcely express the fear, remorse, embarrassment, anger, shame, confusion, and regret that threaten to overwhelm me at any moment. But I feel pride too for bringing you here. You did not come on your own. And I know there are 17 other individuals here today to speak to or of you, for reasons of their own, but by being here they also help me to know in my heart that I did the right thing.

Every day I have to remind myself that you are to blame and I am not. I was a child and you were wrong.

17 Responses to Patrick McMahon: Victim Impact Statement

  1. dennis obrien says:

    Good for you and may you heal knowing its not your fault. I was taught by him in Sudbury. I ended up being athlete of the yr and was drafted into the NHL. Thank God, even though he asked me to be a priest, he didn’t prey on me. I know someone who was abused by him. I admire you and have let Theron Fleury (a former NHL player abused by his coach] also know my thoughts. I respect that you are able to express how you feel. Fr Hod is a very sick ,disturbed man. My hope is that you can put this behind you with the proper help and take credit that you have courage and are worthy of fatherhood.

  2. mata galina says:

    Dennis O ‘Brien -Obie!- The best left-handed spiral thrower that i have ever seen.Baldy and the big Indian warned me about “happy hands” on day 1 in grade 9.I made the bus trip to the Soo to see you win NOSSA football championship,the Indian(now city fireman) carrying 3 defenders on his back into the end zone for the winning score.Does this validate me?Your football coach hated Marshall’s guts,as if you didn’t know.Frank B. became a good friend of mine after my expulsion from St-Chucks and made no bones about his disdain for “happy hands”.Very cool that you support the Sudbury and other victims of that creep. There are so many that respect you from over the years,maybe you could encourage them to stand up for us kids that so admired you and Baldy and Ray ,Claudio,Art,the Bruno’s,the Chris’s,the Dave’s, ….ETC

  3. Tina Hinsperger (nee Como) says:

    Pat, I just read your impact statement. I am so sorry for all that you have gone through…I recall with fondness our days at Assumption together…especially in grade 13 when your locker was so close to mine. I wish I had known you better at that time. Thinking of you and your wife during this difficult time. Know that you have an inner strength that will continue to sustain you during this difficult time.

  4. Patrick McMahon says:

    Hello Tina,

    I can not thank you enough for your kind words and thoughts but more than anything for just taking the time and effort to reach out and say hello when it would have been so much easier to simply keep your thoughts to yourself and move along. You should know you are the only person from Assumption to do so. Even though I have been pictured in the Windsor paper and quoted in multiple stories, the only people who have acknowledged my coming forward in any way have been friends of my parents (some of whom have written me the kindest notes), members of my family (to whom I am forever grateful) and people who were complete strangers to me.

    Releasing the publication ban on my name was an issue I wrestled with for over a year. In all my time considering the possible ramifications or outcomes that could exist, I never contemplated hearing from someone I haven’t seen in 25 years. It is nice that it was a positive message as the past few years bringing this forward oddly have been some of the worst.

    Your message sent me to pull out my yearbook. Grade 13 was the only year I ever knew anyone well enough to get my yearbook signed (ok plus two sweet girls in my math class in grade 10). It is funny how everyone echoed the same message you wrote ……… “It was nice to meet / get to know you Pat!” I could have passed myself as someone who had just transferred to Assumption for grade 13 even though I was there every day for five years.

    So, I thank you for your friendship then and your kindness now. I believe I even have a picture of you (… somewhere) from the grade 13 dinner dance. I won’t carry on, as I am sure Sylvia’s readers don’t need to hear my babbling memories of 25 years ago. But if I may share a word with those still reading …….

    What Tina did took but a few moments and meant so much to me. If you know someone who made the difficult decision to publicly identify themselves in pursuit of justice, resolution, peace, security and truth ……… can you not do what Tina did and take but a moment to support them? Call them, write them, email them, post on here ………… however you do so is up to you. But these people need all the support you can give them and I could make a list about how you support someone in these situations because I have received much. I think now of my friends who survived Marshall’s abuse and were in court just as I was. I know they need your support. All these many good men and women do regardless of their circumstances now. They want to know people care and support them in what they did. Myself, I am still waiting for one of Marshall’s “defenders” to come back online and post an apology. I will grow old waiting I imagine but that is another subject.

    Thank you Tina for setting an example I hope others will emulate.

    Patrick

  5. Tina Hinsperger says:

    Pat, I am touched and humbled by your comments and really don’t know what to say. I wish I had known sooner. It is so important to have support especially when testifying in a trial. I am comforted with the fact that you were surrounded by family. Some survivors are not as lucky to have supports around them. My mom did tell me about this priest when he was first charged and I read some of the earlier articles online before you had released your name to the media. I only recently stumbled upon this website and read the more recent articles online. I can email you that picture of us at the grade 13 dinner dance if you can’t find your copy…I know just the one you are talking about. I know that Sylvia gave you my email address. Would love to catch up with you about some of the positives in your life and reminisce a bit about high school. I agree this is probably not the forum to do it. Looking forward to hearing from you when you have time to drop me a line. Take care.

  6. Melinda Szilva says:

    Dear Patrick:
    Over the past few months I have thought a lot about writing to you, John or your parents often but didn’t want to intrude. After reading what you said to Tina about people not contacting you I decided I would write after all. I’m not sure if you would remember me. Hod Marshall introduced me to John on a trip to Sudbury and we dated in high school. There is so much I would like to talk to you about so hopefully Sylvia can give you my email. After reading about what you have gone through and the incredible betrayal you (and consequently your parents and brothers) have faced it deeply affected me. Our families are very similar in many ways and our relationship with “Uncle Hod” is one of those similarities. I cannot tell you how sorry I am for the abuse you suffered through and that you struggled with this terrible secret for so long. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for you and your parents to share your victim impact stories and to publicly identify yourselves. You should be commended for the courage you have shown.

  7. Patrick McMahon says:

    Hello Melinda,

    Thank you for taking the time to post your kind thoughts. I do remember you and in fact you and your family were discussed in some conversations I shared with my parents. There were and are many families such as mine and yours that Marshall so skillfully ingratiated himself into for his own purposes. We wonder how many of them he harmed as he harmed me. One of my biggest disappointments in the trial was his lack of acknowledgment of all his other victims who did not or were unable to come forward.

    I am glad my comments encouraged you to reach out. I had meant them for those who could reach out to other victims in need but I will happily accept your message and hope others are encouraged by seeing you and Tina reach out to someone 25 years in their past. I will contact you directly in time.

    Patrick

    • Tim Dooling says:

      Patrick, in spite of what has been said, I do not ignore the pain you have had, and the fact that the scabs on it have been picked off again by recent events. The best bet for you I think is to search for someone who was a contemporary around you around the time of the abuse. If you can get along with them share some, but not all, of the trouble you are having. The most difficult events would best be talked over with a phsycologist, or phsychiatrist, and failing that if you know a good solid Priest deal with it in the confessional.
      Another thing I found personally was to go out into nature , alone, and have a good out-loud conversation with God. When you are finished,sit down and wait for His response. It will surely come. Give Him your pain to handle, and do not take it back- you will already have given it to God. This has worked well for me and many others I know. Three times a friend came back from the brink of suicide by doing this , He credits me for saving his life, but, of course it was God who saved his life. To God belongs all the Praise and Glory. God Bless ! Tim Dooling in Ottawa

  8. Catherine Vanstone says:

    Dear Pat
    I am not sure whether you remember me. Our parents grew up together and we used to visit you when we visited Windsor as kids. My father Jim just learned about your statement and everything you have endured. I wanted to offer you my support and to thank you for being so strong to help bring that man to justice. I have 3 children and like you I strive to protect them from monsters like him.
    I have only wonderful memories of you, talking and swimming at your parent’s house. I am closer to Mike’s age but your were always friendly and kind to me.
    My prayer for you is to stay strong, life each day to the fullest, find joy in your children and know that people all over (even Montreal) are thinking about you and your family.
    Catherine Vanstone

  9. Patrick McMahon says:

    My Dear Friend Catherine,

    What a treat for me to read your thoughts. Thank you. I do remember your family and I thank you for your kind words and shared memories. You are the third person to use this site to reach out from 25-30 years past to encourage and support me. What an amazing and wondrous thing!

    It helps offset the equally amazing but disappointing truth that of all the friends, acquaintances, coworkers, neighbours, church associates and many assorted others who would know me, only two people (a good friend and former university roommate plus a former coworker) outside of my wonderful relatives has made any mention of this. My story has been in the Windsor paper several times, on different television stations, internet and radio as well as newspapers across the country and yet I hear only silence. But here I find people reaching out to me in kindness, support and understanding and I thank each of you though I do not know you. So I thank you, Ceilidhe, Valleygirl, Elizabeth, Larry, Leona, former student, John Mac Donald, Lisa, Michel and so many others. I thank friends of my parents for reaching out to them, and to me.

    And you Catherine, all the way out in Montreal. Amazing to see my story in papers from Vancouver to Montreal and to know the message is being heard. Amazing too to think that you and I are the third generation of a friendship that began amongst our grandparents! Thank you for reaching out. You do give me strength – and a smile. Now I will just need a job to go with it so I can support my family.

    My best wishes to you and all your family. If you ever wish to contact me, Sylvia has all my information.

    Patrick McMahon

  10. Noelle Juneau Mayne says:

    Dear Patrick (Paddy),
    Our families have shared an amazing friendship that pre-dates both of our births, and because of that I wanted you to know how proud I am of you, how I admire your courage, strength and determination. Of course I am in shock, and saddened by all that you’ve been through, but I will pray that there will be healing for you and your family. I just learned of this news during my parents’ recent visit, and I wish I’d known earlier so I could have supported you, your parents and brothers through the really tough times. My prayers are with you now, as are so many wonderful memories of our shared childhood experiences. I hope a fond memory of our days at the cottages and running down to the beach will bring a smile to you today – you deserve peace and happiness Patrick.
    Much love,
    Noelle Juneau Mayne

  11. Mike Mc says:

    Patrick…..your impact statement is shocking, revealing, but so true and necessary. And all this happened at age 13. I commend you for sharing it and commend you for pursing justice in court. I truly hope the RC Church can give you all the finances necessary for counselling and getting back on your feet. It owes you a chance to live fully again. The Church must do this…I don’t care what it takes. The abusive priests mentioned in this blogging site, (and around the world) have been possibly the ruination of the RC Church. If the Church doesn’t think so, then I suggest it “sell all it owns” and help the victims of its abusive fellow priests. Many of those fellow priests and Bishops knew of so much abuse but never really did anything about it. It was a blight upon the Church but the reputation of their church was more important…so they unfortunately thought. How wrong that was…and now they must pay the price.
    I hope Patrick, you are given what you need to recover. I and many others will be waiting to see what the Church has to say, and what it will do for you. All the best, Patrick. I am happy to see friends have written you with support. They are 100% behind you!

  12. Patrick McMahon says:

    Dear Noelle,
    This website continues to astound me by bringing me support and love from the most unexpected of places. It is a wonderful thing. My sincere thanks to you for your heartfelt message. It brings a good feeling to my heart to read your encouraging words and to know that someone who thinks of me as Paddy, still holds a place for me in her heart.

    Being a touch younger than you, my memories of Gallimere may be a bit thinner but yes you have brought a smile to my face thinking of bonfires on the beach, rides in the back of Tony’s (?) pickup and late-night games running around in the dark.

    I wish everyone who knew a victim of these crimes took the time that you did in writing. Supporting the victims, and stopping the “church” from continuing to enable and cover such crimes are the most important things anyone can do.

    I have received your email also and will be in touch.

    My thanks and love to you and yours,

    Paddy

  13. Patrick McMahon says:

    Mike, I thank you for your strong and respectful words. It is not only the abusive priests who are the ruination of the roman catholic church but those who enabled and protected them and those who to this day work against their victims in so many ways. It is truly a shame to see when there are good and faithful priests serving God, their community and the people all from within an organization doing the exact opposite. My fight is of course far from over as there is still accountability waiting to be claimed or assigned as need be. I will do all I can to see that is done and that it is seen to be done in the public eye where it rightly belongs.
    I am appreciative of the blessings of very old friends this site has brought me as well as support from so many new people that I may never meet. Never hesitate to reach out to a victim of these crimes. They will always be thankful for whatever you have to offer them.

  14. Brenda Brunelle says:

    *Patrick, never forget your words and always believe in them.

    Every day I have to remind myself that you are to blame and I am not. I was a child and you were wrong.”

    I completely relate and wholly understand the feelings and experience expressed in your impact victim statement.

    Stay strong, love yourself, allow yourself to be loved.

    Brenda Brunelle

  15. Patrick McMahon says:

    Thank you for that reminder Brenda. Those are words I had indeed forgotten and it was nice to be reminded of them. They are poignant, relevant every day and most importantly completely true. I’m almost proud of myself for having spoken them.

    Hang on … I AM proud for having written them and for having spoken them. Way to go me! I just might have to say that more often.

    Thank you Brenda. You have helped.

    Patrick

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