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At age five, 1954, "the Bishop" (Card. Stritch) stood over me and said, "Stop babbling about what Father Horne did to you." It took me 40 years to talk about it again. Now, I babble. - ke
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in 2009 our ongoing coverage of the pedophile epidemic in the Catholic Church will be at City fAngels5. in 2010 at CityofAngels8

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ann Webb's response to Fr. Bucci's letter to parishioners

Dear Sacred Heart Parishioners, January 12, 2008

A few weeks ago you received a letter from your pastor about our leafleting outside the church. I felt compelled to reply, but have waited until now in respect for the Christmas Season.

I cannot be silent. My history of abuse is true.

In 1957, when I was a kindergartener at Sacred Heart School (kindergarten was still held in the convent then), Msgr. Anthony DeAngelis began taking me out of school to “help” at the rectory – a little at first, then more and more. The sexual abuse escalated over the years. By 3rd or 4th grade one of the lay teachers complained to my mother that I was taken out of class a lot. No one questioned that I was given favored status. My parents were proud that DeAngelis called on me by name at the children’s mass, often picked me to crown the Blessed Mother in May, and had me represent the school at his elevation to Monsignor at the cathedral. They didn’t know the horrible truth of what was happening to me. I was a little girl who believed in Santa Claus, whose feet didn’t reach the floor when I sat in the grown up chairs at the rectory. He called me “bella Anna”. Sexual abuse by a priest simply could not compute in my 5-year-old, or 8-year-old, or 11-year-old mind. I dissociated and put what was too horrible to remember away in my memory. It stayed locked away until 1992, when I was strong enough to remember, and when my children were about the same age I was when it began.

In 1994, I reported the abuse by Msgr. DeAngelis to the Providence Diocese and to Fr. Turillo. The Diocese agreed to help pay for my therapy. I never attempted to sue the church.

In 2002, ten years after I remembered the abuse, I publicly spoke about being abused by a priest for the first time. Please understand that public speaking is something most abuse survivors never do, and it is a decision fraught with anxiety, embarrassment, and shame. But I needed to do just that - speak the truth, privately first, then publicly.

Being “public” came at considerable cost to me and my family. It forced me to face countless fears about telling what I was never supposed to tell. Often my hand would shake so much I could barely read my statement, and my throat was so dry I didn’t think the words could be spoken. There were hundreds of sleepless nights as I struggled with yet another nightmare, second-guessed what would be taken out of context by a reporter, or wondered where I would get the fortitude and stamina to keep fighting this battle for the truth. But always it was worth it, as one more clergy abuse survivor pulled together the courage to pick up the phone or email me and began with “I called you because I haven’t told anyone and it’s time I told…..,” or “I thought it was only boys, and no one would believe me, I was a girl of 10….” They are calling simply to be heard, to finally share their secrets.

Since our leafleting in December I have heard from two priest abuse survivors who’ve never told anyone outside their family about the abuse. One is a man who was abused at Sacred Heart as a child by one of the other known abusers who’ve worked at this parish.

This alone made standing outside Sacred Heart worth it. It was an extremely difficult thing to do and I had avoided it like the plague for 5 years, out of simple fear. I was shocked to hear that my husband became emotional and punched the picture of Msgr. DeAngelis. He has paid for the damages, and the charges have been dropped. I would never have suggested he do such a thing, but can’t help but feel loved and supported by him, even in this uncharacteristic act.

Sacred Heart was the home to at least four priests who molested children - Msgr. Anthony DeAngelis, Fr. Robert Marcantonio, Fr. Edmund Micarelli, and Fr. Richard Meglio. Their victims almost certainly include people in your parish or in your West Warwick neighborhoods – people who have kept their abuse secret, for fear that they would not be believed. Most victims keep their secrets, never sue, and never speak to a reporter. They silently wince when someone tells a priest abuse joke, and deal with their memories and nightmares alone.

You can help these victims come forward. A welcoming attitude from the parish community could encourage them. I would be happy to arrange an open dialog between clergy abuse survivors and parishioners if it would help bring understanding.


Ann Hagan Webb. Ed.D.
former parishioner

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