Earlier today I wrote a blog about the sexual abuse I suffered at St. Michael's Centre, a boy's home run by Catholic Charities in Bangor Maine, in the 1970s, in an attempt to reach boys who might also have been abused by that facility. Today I am writing another blog to address a family secret. This involves my sister and brother-in-law, and my nieces. My hope, in writing this blog, is that my nieces will write to me so that I can develop a relationship with them.
As I wrote in my earlier blog, I have been using my Buddhist dharma name, Konchok Rangdrol, or "Rangdrol" for years. In 2010, I resumed my monastic vows and since I have been using a Typepad account in which to blog. It would be silly to create a new blog just for the name difference, and most of the people I have known for the past thirty years, such as friends, etc., already know me as Konchok Rangdrol, but my nieces, however, know me as "Uncle CJ."
As such my birth name is Clarence J. Plourde, or CJ Plourde, and I enter this here in the hopes that my nieces might Google me, or their own names, and find this blog. I am trying to reach Jennifer Hallee, Laura Hallee and Michelle Hallee. My nieces are innocent victims of these circumstance, as is there mother, and no one should subject them to any sort of criticism. My goal is not to embarrass them, or their family members, but now that they are young women, and of age, I want them to know that I never stopped thinking about them, and I simply want to get to know them.
My nieces should know that I tried to remain a presence in their lives, but their parents would not allow it. I used to think that it was because I was gay, or bisexual, or a Buddhist, but I think it is because I knew about what had really happened to my sister, and how they had met.
My sister was just a teenager when a new priest came to our northern Maine parish. He was like the Pied Piper, and I immediately distrusted him because of it. My sister, heavily involved in the church, fell in love. It was in the mid 1970s and the church was trying to play catch-up, and had been devoting more time to their youth, and the Pied Piper was the perfect new addition for their new Kumbaya moment, complete with God's Eye banners, and guitar-playing minstrels.
Unfortunately, Father Hallee began an unethical and illegal relationship with my sister which lasted until 1977 when my parents reported Father Hallee and his involvement with their daughter to their local parish. And just like that, the new priest disappeared.
In 2009 or 2010 I learned that my brother in law Renald Hallee, aka Ron Hallee, had been accused of sexually abusing a 9 year old girl. Christine Angell, now 52, took Renald Hallee to court in Maine, several years ago. Even though I knew that my brother in law's relationship with my sister had been anything less that appropriate, or ethical, news that he had allegedly abused another young girl when he was a priest in Bangor, Maine totally changed my perception of him. If I had had any doubts about whether or not he was a sexual predator, or a pedophile, I could no longer deny it.
In fact, I discovered this quite by accident, after trusting my intuition and calling the police department in the community my brother in law lived in. When I was told "we already know," the fact is that neither they nor the woman who was now accusing my brother in law of having abused her as a child knew what I knew—that he had had a similar relationship with my sister, and had been chased out of town because of it. And that she had later followed him out of state and married him.
Today, I cannot simply shrug this off. I believe Ms. Angell's accusations, and know that pedophiles are creatures of habit. It is because of that that I also worry about my nieces, and their children, if they have any. Are they safe? I can only hope that he has never harmed my nieces, and I want them to know, if he has, that they can and should get therapy to deal with it, and not keep quiet about it because eventually it will open them, it will tear them open. I also wonder, as I write this, and this too is one of the reasons why I write this, if they aware of his past, of what he did to their mother, and of the allegations in Maine?
It is my belief that children should not be in my brother in law's presence. In fact, when I learned he was working as a volunteer with another agency, I contacted them and told them of both what happened to my sister, and of the accusations of the woman in Maine. I do worry and wonder whether my brother in law has abused others, and whether his underaged son is even safe in his own home? We need to hold these individuals accountable for the suffering they have caused.
Predators prey. How is it that a man in his late sixties, he is 70 this year, I think, is accompanying sixteen year olds out on church functions? It may be hard for my nieces to read this, but I believe that they should know the truth. Unlike the family who have remained silent about this, I cannot, probably because I know how destructive the abuse can be to victims. And I believe that the cycle of abuse must end. To simply look on and not do anything, that is unnacceptable.
Like others in my family, perhaps I should not have been as forgiving of my brother in law's machinations but I was naive. Even with some knowledge, I believed that my brother in law's abuses were a "once-in-a-lifetime" incident, but I was really ignorant. Why, even though I had suffered worse at the hands of several men, did I not see it coming? It probably has something to do with the fact that no one else in my family talked about it. That is the dialectic of abuse. My sister? She too was a victim, who should know, today, just who it is that she married, but who didnt have the knowledge of what was happening to her, at the time.
So that is the secret: that your father sexually abused your mother, by nature breaking his vows, and the law, and got away with it. But the allegations by that woman who claimed he abused her when she was 9 years old cannot be overlooked. Even though, once again, the church kept the secret, we should not. It is the only way to protect others.
I am not sure what the church should or should not have done, but it does not appear that they were totally honest with the Maine Court authorities, and maybe even had a hand in sending him out of state so as to wash their hands of him?
Was the Portland, Bangor, etc., Diocese aware Father Hallee had committed a crime against an 9 year old? Who knows, it doesnt sound like Ms. Angell's parents were aware. But the Portland and Maine dioceses had to have known about the 1976-1977 incident—were they not the ones who forced him out of the priesthood, helped pay for his housing and the new education when he was driven out of town? And then who sent him out of Maine, and wasn't that a crime? The courts may not have known about Father Hallee's tryst with my sister, but the Bangor and Portland Diocese certainly did, but is that what they told authorities? Probably not.
I want my nieces to know that they can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I do not want you to dwell on these issues, but this was the only way I knew how to reach out to you, and I do believe you need to know. And what if you are not aware of this history? I hope that you are not angry at me, but understsand that you will certainly have feelings. But what if I did not share this with you? Would others have been abused, your own children? I can not take that chance and I hope you understand why I was honest with you.
For the record, the case against your father is called Angell vs. Hallee, and seems to have been settled, in April 2014, according to the Bangor Daily News web journalist, Judy Harrison. According to that article, listed below, it seems that your father and Ms. Angell settled out of court, but I do not know what that means. I feel bad for Ms. Angell's suffering, and I want her to know that I beleive her. I stand by her, and she can also reach me, if she wants.
To the Maine courts, giving the victim of sexual abuse only two years to notify their abusers, after having reached the age of 18, is preposeterous. I was abused by staff at a boy's home, at the age of 14-15, and it took me until 1993—two decades later—to deal with it, and even then I didnt know how to do it properly because of what I was to discover when I launched my own investigation, asking for information files from the group home. I hope that the State of Maine will change this, because certainly, you are not protecting Maine citizens, and seems that you are only serving to protect the perpetrator(s). If you were really concerned with all Maine citizens, you will change that, as other states have.
You can read the full news article from the BDN at: http://bangordailynews.com/2014/04/09/news/state/maine-high-court-to-decide-if-lawsuit-claiming-abuse-by-ex-priest-living-out-of-state-may-go-forward/?ref=comments