Sex Abuse Survivor Tells All, Part 2

News: Commentary
by Paul Murano  •  •  May 26, 2020   

Doubly Abused in Detroit

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In Part 1 of this story we learned that "Peter" and his four siblings were sexually abused by parish priest Fr. Jan (John) Tyminski. At the end of Friday's article, Peter had written Detroit Abp. Allen Vigneron a letter detailing the abuse he and his brothers had suffered as children. Vigneron's response was not as Peter had expected.

In recalling the answer he finally received from the archbishop's office, Peter expounded: "When asked if I've forgiven Fr. Tyminski, I reply 'It was difficult, but yes.' However, I'm having a much more difficult time forgiving the leadership of the archdiocese for the treatment given us in the aftermath of my letter," he said.

This is why Peter considers himself a double-abuse victim: as a child, he suffered abuse at the hands of Fr. Tyminski; as an adult, he suffered a different form of abuse at the hands of the archdiocese.

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

"The whole reason why I came forward to the archbishop in the first place, was to purify the Church," he said, "and I thought at the time that's what the archbishop wanted too."

But, Peter notes, this may not be the case.

"After mailing my letter," he explained, "I waited." Peter didn't know how long Vigneron's response would take, but it seemed like forever to him. Finally, two-and-a-half months later, on November 1, 2018, Peter received a phone call from a woman named Marge Huggard, the Victims' Advocate for the archdiocese of Detroit (AOD).

"We talked more about the details of my case and she asked if I wanted to make a formal complaint," Peter recounted "I said yes and asked if this would get his [Fr. Tyminski's] name on the list (of credibly accused clergy). She said, 'Absolutely'."

Peter hung up the phone satisfied. That is all he wanted. Get the truth out and manifest the transparency the archdiocese claimed it had.

He kept checking the list on the AOD website for Fr. Tyminski's name. Four weeks passed. Nothing. Then eight. Still nothing.

After New Year's Day 2019 Peter checked it again. Still nothing. He finally texted Huggard back on February 15 to ask why.

She texted back, "Funny enough, I was just thinking that today! I will send an email and check!" The month of March came and went without anything changing. Throughout April, nothing. Peter then wrote a heartfelt follow-up letter to the Archbishop. He received no response.

Frustrated, in May 2019 Peter decided to write on the AOD Facebook page expressing his disgust at being ignored, and threatening to cut off his generous annual donations to the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). That got their attention, and him a reply. The communications department for the AOD responded:

We are so sorry to hear about your experience, but we are grateful you reached out to voice your concern and disappointment. We know that our words mean nothing without concrete action. Since receiving your message, we have been in touch with the team tasked by the Archbishop to review and respond to reports of abuse. They are examining your case today and will be in contact with you soon. God bless.

Six weeks went by. Nothing. Peter finally received a voicemail from Judge Michael Talbot of the AOD Review Board, apologizing for the delay in getting Fr. Tyminski's name added to the list.

Peter repeated his family's story to him over the phone to him and a press release was issued the next day. It was a very weak, skewed version of what Peter had said to him, and didn't even mention the abuse of his brothers. Peter and his siblings were infuriated.

Twelve days after he sent his letter to Abp. Vigneron, Peter found out his sister had also been molested by Tyminski too.

At that time a friend suggested he write Msgr. Michael Bugarin, who was head of the review board at the time. Bugarin is on record as denying that homosexuality is key to clerical sex abuse and is accused of witness manipulation in the case of faithful priest Fr. Eduard Perrone.

Peter wrote to Bugarin, expressing his mounting frustration with the run-around he had been getting for the past several months.

Bugarin replied saying he'd be in touch. After seven weeks had passed, anxiously waiting for a response but receiving none, Peter e-mailed Bugarin again. No response. With frustration at a boiling point, Peter decided to write the archbishop of Detroit one more time. On July 2, 2019 he sent a certified letter to Abp. Vigneron, stating in part, "Before I go public, I want a personal meeting."

Twelve days after he sent his letter to Abp. Vigneron, Peter found out his sister had also been molested by Tyminski, too.

"Dorothy" shared with her brother the details of her abuse when she was about eight years old, and shed light on the negative impact it had on many of her relationships. She also told Peter she called the AOD in 1995 at the request of their mother to report the abuse. This was shortly after the death of their father. She said whomever she spoke to at the AOD told her that since the priest was already dead (he died in 1984) there wasn't much they could do about it.

Dorothy was also told by the AOD that she should seek counseling with a priest from Farmington Hills. Her reaction: "I was abused by a priest and you want me to go to counseling to one of your priests?" She was then told that someone from the archdiocese would get back to her, but they never did.

Time passed. Dorothy was busy raising a family. She tried again to get some action from the AOD in 2002, after the news of the scandal in Boston broke. Again, follow-up was promised, but none materialized. In the meantime, their mother had been learning of the abuse of all her children. "She called me one night in tears," recalled Peter. "She blamed herself. She said 'I brought that man into our house. I cooked for him and did his laundry.'" She died a few months later, taking that guilt with her to the grave.

Peter, angry after hearing his sister's heart wrenching story, texted Huggard that evening again demanding a meeting with the archbishop.

Monsignor Bugerin interjected.

Next: Part 3 — Pursuing Purification

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