Sex Abuse Survivor Tells All, Part 1

News: Commentary
by Paul Murano  •  •  May 22, 2020   

Predator priest victim finds his voice

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DETROIT ( - A clerical sex abuse victim, given an ongoing run-around by the archdiocese of Detroit, is speaking out.

"Peter," now an adult, recently contacted Church Militant to tell his story — revealing how he was sexually abused as a child, has been ignored as an adult, and is now doing something to heal the wounds that he and too many others continue to bear. It is a story of pain and frustration as well as faith and courage.

Peter was abused as a boy and has held on to his secret for decades. His wife didn't know about it until recently, and his children still don't know. For this reason, he uses a pseudonym.

This is the story of a man who has sought justice through the proper channels, but has received very little. This is why Peter has finally decided to share his experience with the world. He tells Church Militant his motive is primarily to purify the Church, and secondarily to announce a creative project that he has launched that could offer little healing and closure to many survivors like himself.

Fr. Jan (John) Tyminski (Archdiocese of Detroit)

Six decades ago in the archdiocese of Detroit (AOD), between 1954 and 1966, Peter and his four siblings were sexually abused by their parish priest, Fr. Jan (John) Tyminski.

Assigned to St. Andrew Parish in Detroit, Fr. Tyminski became a family friend and would often be invited to their house at the bequest of Peter's mother. Tyminski secretly and repeatedly abused Peter and his four siblings, all children at the time, in their family home and his parish rectory.

Bearing the wounds secretly for decades, Peter knew nothing about his siblings being abused until relatively recently. Their mother, now deceased, had never suspected a thing.

"I hadn't given much thought to my abuse throughout my adulthood," recalls Peter. "After the news broke in the 2002 scandal in Boston, I actually took the side of the Church and priesthood, citing the stats that showed a very low percentage accused, and most [of whom] were not pedophile cases."

It was 16 years later when Peter decided to take action. In the summer of 2018, commonly known as "the summer of shame" in Catholic circles, the Pennsylvania grand jury report and then-Cardinal McCarrick's allegations were made public. This triggered painful memories in Peter.

Around that time he attended a meeting of ministry leaders at his parish where Peter's pastor gave an in-depth account of what the scandal had involved.

The more I heard and read about abuse cases, especially in the archdiocese of Detroit, the worse it got. I decided I had to talk about it.

"He described St. John's (in Plymouth, Michigan) as a cesspool in the 1980s," he said, "with a huge homosexual subculture. It struck a nerve with me because I spent a lot of time at the seminary at that time with a friend who was studying for the priesthood. The homosexual subculture was very much alive," he confirmed.

His pastor also detailed other issues like "Dignity" Masses that were illicitly being offered every Sunday night at Marygrove College in Detroit, and the so-called "lavender mafia" that existed.

This affected him deeply. "After hearing everything our pastor had to say about the scandal, it felt like old wounds were being ripped open," Peter said.

"I hadn't told a soul about what happened, not even my wife, and it was tearing me up inside," he admitted. "The more I heard and read about abuse cases, especially in the archdiocese of Detroit, the worse it got. I decided I had to talk about it."

This was a monumental decision for Peter. "It took two weeks for me to work up the courage to tell my wife, who was predictably stunned by it," he said. "She asked me if I was going to tell our pastor."

Abp. Allen Vigneron (Salwan Georges/Detroit Free Press)

Peter contacted him the next day. "We met a few days later and he encouraged me to write to Abp. Vigneron," he said. And that is exactly what he did.

In his letter to the archbishop, dated September 15, 2018, Peter recalls: "In the letter I made it clear that I was not looking for any financial gain, and that my whole goal was to get this priest's name on the AOD list for abusive clergy, and to help purify the Church."

He wrote of his own abuse as well as that of of his brothers. "I didn't know any details of their cases because throughout all those years we never talked about it. I had no idea anyone else was abused," he said.

Peter spent nearly 45 years thinking he was the only one in his family sexually abused. "After my parents died, bits and pieces came out about my brothers," he recounted. "I told the archbishop in the letter that I just wanted to do what I could to bring healing."

Peter was surprised about the kind of response he received from the archdiocese, and would not have predicted what was to come of this.

Next: Part 2 — Doubly Abused in Detroit

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