WGN Films presents “Sanctuary of Sin,” a series looking at a little-known religious order and the role it played in the Catholic church sex abuse crisis. This is Part 3 of 3.
David Clohessy says he was abused multiple times by his parish priest.
It began when he was age 11 or 12 and a volunteer at the church.
“And to repay me he would take me on out-of-town trips,” he said. “It was always on those trips that he molested me. Always when it was just the two of us. I was just terrorized. I had no idea what was going on or what to do.”
Clohessy later sued the priest but the lawsuit was rejected because the statute of limitations had expired.
It was a crushing blow but nothing like the news Clohessy would soon receive.
“Shortly after that I found out [the priest] had molested three of my brothers,” Clohessy said. “It absolutely just shattered our family.”
One of Clohessy’s brothers who was abused grew up to become a priest. In a terrible twist, the brother was later accused of sexually abusing two people.
“It created an enormous rift in our family that has never been healed,” Clohessy said.
His brother was never charged criminally but is named on a Missouri Diocese list of credibly accused priests, as is Clohessy’s alleged abuser.
WGN Films Presents ‘Sanctuary of Sin’
Part 1: Clergy sex abuse survivor shares story
Part 2: How a religious order became a sanctuary for pedophile priests
Part 3: Changes proposed for Servants of the Paraclete
After he was accused, Clohessy’s brother lived in Dittmer, Missouri. At a center where some priests accused of sexual misconduct are housed.
The center is run by the Servants of the Paraclete. Clohessy, now an activist for clergy sex abuse victims, has worked to shine a light on the Servants and the order’s role in the Catholic church’s sex abuse crisis.
“I just don’t want this to happen again – to another kid,” Clohessy said.
After learning about the Servants’ property in Dittmer, Missouri state Rep. Robert Sauls introduced legislation to license the facility.
His bill is still pending.
“It’s about keeping communities safe,” Sauls said. “If this is the treatment for sexually deviant behavior, then let’s insure that these people are getting treatment rather than just housing them.”
Both the Vatican and Servants declined to comment for this story.