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Sexual Predator Was Associate Pastor At My Catholic School And Parish. | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


A Louisville Courier-Journal Op Ed piece ran the other day about how Kentucky law does not really allow victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests to file lawsuits because of statute of limitations requirements.  Many of the victims do not report the abuse until well into the 40’s or older.  I noticed in the opinion piece that the Louisville Archdiocese settled a lawsuit over this very subject back in 2003.  The Archidiocese admitted no liability, but a list of sexual predators who had served in Kentucky was published.  I was a shocked to find out that I knew one of those sexual predators — Father John Elder.

No, I was never molested by Father Elder.  It appears his predilection was for minor girls and young women.  And given the descriptions of the abuse, I have no difficulty believing his accusers.  I have to admit that I never liked Father Elder, and I just want to share my reaction to all of this being news to me.

I attended Saint Pius X Elementary School from 1968 to 1977 (kindergarten through eightht grade).  Father Elder didn’t show up didn’t show up at Saint Pius until 1974.  Now, granted I was a kid, but my impression of Father Elder was the he was a stereotypical stern, grumpy old man.  He wasn’t the meanest man I knew (besides my Dad, there were other men I knew growing up who were a lot meaner), but Father Elder tended toward fire and brimestone sermons.

I vividly remember one where Father Elder condemned the use of birth control.  This was shortly after I had graduated from Saint Pius, but I still was dragged to church by my Dad.  Father Elder thundered out about how sinful it was to try to tell God how many children we must have!  I remember looking at my older sister with a “WTF?” look on my face.  I remember a family dinner afterwards discussing Father Elder’s sermon, and even my socially conservative Dad disagreed with Father Elder.

I distinctly remember dear old Dad saying, “Yeah, he is not the one who has to RAISE those kids either.”

As for why Father Elder suddenly appeared in our midst in 1974, it was shortly after he sexually abused a woman at another parish in 1973.  This is from the Bishopaccountability.org:

ST. BARNABAS
PLAINTIFF: Janice Winter Marks
AGE: 43
ADDRESS: Oldham County
OCCUPATION: Publisher, grant writer
FILED SUIT: Aug. 22
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1973, St. Barnabas Church restroom
ACCUSATION: Fondling
DETAILS: Marks had been teaching religious education to younger children one weekend and used the restroom. She said Elder forced his way into the stall, fondled her and told her women’s bodies were sinful and she needed to confess her sins.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF’S WORDS: The words “rang in my ears and still do. But I don’t feel ashamed anymore. I’m not giving him that power anymore.”

That sounds like the twisted fire and brimestone bastard I knew.  While Ms. Marks states that she did not tell anyone, don’t you think the timing is coincidental that Elder left Oldham County to become associate pastor in Louisville?  It makes me wonder if he did this to another woman at St. Barnabas because this was not his first time at forcing himself on a young woman or child.

ST. JOHN
PLAINTIFF: Loretta Robinson
AGE: 53
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Restaurant server
FILED SUIT: May 8
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1959, St. John Church rectory, school
ACCUSATION: Fondling, exposure to abuse of friend
DETAILS: Robinson was about 10 when, she said, Elder fondled her at least a couple of times. She said she also saw Elder abuse a friend, Diana (Sewell) Spencer, and that Elder was grinning at her during the abuse.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? She said she told a younger sister. Later, as an adult, she said she told other sisters and a friend.
IN THE PLAINTIFF’S WORDS: “(Elder) was always drinking, always. He would like to touch you at the bingos. He was always grinning that nasty grin…. It’s not about taking their money, like they think. It’s about bringing closure and hoping that somebody will believe you.”
 

PLAINTIFF: Diana (Sewell) Spencer
AGE: 53
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Unemployed
FILED SUIT: May 8
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1959, St. John Church rectory, hall
ACCUSATION: Fondling
DETAILS: Spencer said Elder called her into his office, pinned her against a desk and fondled her. She said he also fondled her on other occasions, such as outside of bingo events.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF’S WORDS: “I want them to know that what (church officials) had done was wrong. They should have known … what was going on.”
 

Now, it was confirmed to me later from another person at another parish that Elder was a drunk.  I didn’t hang anywhere near Elder, so I have no way to verify this.  But Ms. Robinson has confirmed this with her statement.  But it sheads some light on one run in I did have with Elder back in 1984.

I was having what you might call a “crisis of faith” back in 1984.  I suppose any young person goes through a phase where they wonder, “How do I know what the truth is?”  It’s called growing up.  But it was really bothering me this philosophical question.  I didn’t have anyone to turn to about this who I thought might be a bit of a “subject expert,” so I fell upon an old habit.

I went to find a Catholic priest to see if he could help me work through this.  Unfortunately, the only priest available at my former parish was — you guessed it — Father Elder.  I decided, “OK.  Maybe the old grump will have some words of wisdom?”  

I was wrong.  After I explained the problem, Father Elder told me a dumb story about a young man who made a fool out of a college professor.  The gist of the story was for me to not take life so seriously.

He literally said that to me.  I’m not joking.  I left feeling humiliated and extremely stupid.  And all it accomplished was for me to burn the last fraying part of that mental rope bridge I called the Catholic faith.

Now, I had no idea that Elder was 1) a drunk and 2) a sexual predator at that time.  This was 1984.  Long before the most recent evils of the Catholic Church were exposed.

If I was a drunk who thought it was fun to hurt kids, I think I might have a shitty attitude not to take “life so seriously.”  No, I am not making excuses for that miserable prick.  It’s so heart warming to know that the church was protecting a useless piece of shit like Elder.

Elder died back in 1993.  Good fucking riddance.  



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