Monday, March 12, 2007
Information for abuse victims
As the producer of tonight's "360" special with Thomas Roberts, I want to pass along a couple of sources of information for people who may be suffering sexual abuse and looking for a way out:

Posted By MaryAnne Fox, CNN Producer: 8:16 PM ET
  64 Comments
Thanks for the article. You are not alone, there are many of us who have been victims of sexual abuse. I am now 45 years old and it has taken over 30 years to ever speak about it with anyone.

Though in my case the abuse was not from a priest but rather from a childhood "friend" who was older than me.

I never thaught of it as abuse until a year ago when the thoughts from the past abuse began to come up inexplicably in the middle of the night. I was paralized with fear, anger, and deep sadness all at once when I learned that a perpetrator can even be a few years older than the victim during childhood.

After months of agony and crying myself to sleep almost every night, I finally opened up to my parents and some friends. I immediately felt some degree of relief, but the thoughts still hunt me to this day.

I have never confronted my "friend" as I moved out of my state. However, I wish one day I can muster the courage to do it because I know of at least one more person he abused. And I am sure his life has also been affected as mine is to this day.
Posted By Anonymous H. M. Alvarez, Vero Beach, FL : 12:04 AM ET
that's a great information specially for the victims thank you for that Ms. MaryAnne, tonight show is very delicate thank you to Mr. Thomas Roberts his very brave for sharing his experience but I hope that he has still faith to GOD.

regards to all staff and crew of AC360 and to Mr. Anderson Cooper!
Posted By Anonymous Jemillex Bacerdo Chicago, IL. : 12:11 AM ET
I lack the words to describe my respect for this program: as a survivor of clerical sexual abuse myself, I tend to catch anything on this topic.
I've never seen a program that rang so true, that was so powerful, that touched on the shared experiences of survivors.
I've done a few shows myself, and I know the courage the guys had to summon to talk of their experiences. They have given all of us a gift of compassion and resolve, and in the process, will find their own healing.
One hell of a job, folks. You tiptoed through the minefield with alacrity. I thank you.
Posted By Anonymous Scott Abraham, Seattle, WA : 12:59 AM ET
I just wanted to say that although I have never experienced anything close to what Thomas Roberts went through; I can only say that this puts a needed face on the problem that has been going on for years.

This will show people who have gone through such a horrific crime that there will always be people out there that will support them.

Thomas is a great person and anchor for CNN and I am glad he put his story out there for all to hear. If just one person comes forward after seeing this, he did the right thing.
Posted By Anonymous Matt, DeWitt, MI : 1:01 AM ET
I am sickened by this story. The worst part is that Fr. Jeff is under house arrest and will not even be on the sex offenders list. I commend Thomas and Mike for their courage. I am a 1990 graduate of John Carroll High School.
Posted By Anonymous Nancy Bickel Weigle, Danville, PA : 1:15 AM ET
Tonight's show on sexual abuse is a serious subject - however, tonight's show was more fitting of the National Enquirer rather than CNN -- the "theatrics" (visual and verbal) brought the show down to a tabloid level - not serious, balanced, unbiased reporting that I look to CNN for.
Posted By Anonymous Jim, New York, New York : 1:16 AM ET
These priests molest people. Society rejects the truth. People speak out. Some in society come to terms with it. It reminds me of the Bush Adminstration molesting the firefighters and first responders on 9/11 telling them it is a-okay to breath the air around the site. Weak. Let's expose these acts of abuse as well as those by the Catholic Church. They are both disgusting and need to be forced upon the American people by those that care about the victims. Amen to that.
Posted By Anonymous Edward, Hillcrest, IL : 1:16 AM ET
I want to salute Thomas Roberts for his amazing courage and poise in coming forward on national television with his story. As an adult surviver of incest I too live with this trauma everyday. It is through stories like this that I gain the strength to live with an eye on the furture and not in my past. Thank You Anderson Cooper for once again bringing a difficult story to the world with sensitivity and compassion.
Posted By Anonymous Beth, Albany New York : 1:19 AM ET
I think it's SICK that these supposed "Men of God" hide behind a collar. Vengence will be reaped on Judgement Day.
Posted By Anonymous Denise, Brady, TX : 1:20 AM ET
I was disappointed with slant that the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Catholic Church were somehow unsympathetic to victims of sexual abuse by priests, and do nothing. When the fact of the matter is the Church has quite srict guidelines and background checks for the ordained and all who work with children. The Church has a zero tolerance for abuse, and has been a leader in identifying and dealing with clergy abusers from the past as well as the present. Ever here of VIRTUS?
Posted By Anonymous Jacob Warner, Norfolk, Virginia : 1:20 AM ET
Regarding Thomas Roberts and the other gentleman that came forward about the molestation by the priest; Thank you for your courage, you are great men no doube you willl help many people.
Posted By Anonymous DW Gray, Rancho Palos Verdes, Ca. : 1:20 AM ET
I don't understand how or why the catholic church stands so strongly behind the priests that molest children and yet preach the word of God, hypocrysy personified. Living a life with the ghosts of molestation is a heartbreaking and painful road and I pray that all overcome the pain and find peace and happinesss in their lives.
Posted By Anonymous Gail, Saskatoon, Canada : 1:21 AM ET
I am so angry and disappointed by how our justice system handled Thomas Roberts' case. He and all abuse victims deserve proper justice and the state of Maryland has let them down tremendously. I admire Thomas Roberts and Mr. Golds for coming forward, because even though justice was not served in this case, I hope it will allow other sexually abused victims to stand up for the justice they deserve.
Posted By Anonymous Jenny Barnes, Keller, Texas : 1:23 AM ET
I knew Father Jeff Toohey and I owe those two boys you interviewed an apology for my unconditional (and so tragically unwarranted) support of Father Jeff during those times. I, like many others, should have had a more open mind. I have learned a valuable lesson about unqualified loyalty in the face of someone else's heartache.
Posted By Anonymous MLCollier Springboro, OH : 1:23 AM ET
I'm 59 years old and experienced an encounter with a scout master when I was 15, I'm glad I had the where with all to recognize something was wrong, I never went back to the scouts. I never talked about it for years but I have since, mentioned it to some close friends. I feel for these people who have suffered the "nth" degree of degradation. Death to all the offenders, there's no place on this planet for any of them and we can't justify their place in our socities.
Posted By Anonymous Gene Handshumaker, Everett, Wa : 1:24 AM ET
I thank Thomas for his strength in what he has brought to the world to see. I have told my story to the church which is a mirror image of his. I to have no recourse for I am now 51 years old and my life has yet to begin. As I told the representatives of the church "It is a sentence that we will serve for the rest of our lives" The longer the injustice has prevailed the greater the severity of the crime. I live in Ohio an my State has denied me my right as they are attempting to do to Thomas. The church will prevail no doubt but, It has lost many along the way. May they all rot in Hell.
Posted By Anonymous Tom,Cleveland, OH : 1:30 AM ET
A point NEVER made in priest abuse stories is that these priests 1) warn children that they will go to hell for same-sex activity, and then 2) make a child engage in same-sex activity. That priest has made a hell of such a child's mind, heart and soul. That's a double reason why the Church has blood on its hands, therefore. Please, ignore that major point no longer.
Patricia, New York City
Posted By Anonymous Patricia Horan, New York City, NY : 1:30 AM ET
I never usually watch "CNN- Communist News Network", but I was flipping through and came across Sins of the Father on 360. Even though I don't think CNN is fair and balanced at times, you did an awesome job on this story! Thanks for exposing the largest grossing non-profit organization in the US- the Catholic Church! You were definitely "fair and balanced" on this one!!!
Posted By Anonymous Kathy, Newport Beach, CA : 1:31 AM ET
After watching 'Sins of the Father', it is so disappointing to see CNN air this show during the holy time of Lent. Just a week before, many were watching 'The Lost Tomb of Jesus' questioning the life of Christ on the Discovery Channel. It is a growing trend every year that Christians have to endure negative reporting during this Lenten season. What happened to Thomas Roberts is shameful and no one should endure that type of abuse but it does not justify reporting issues that use a sensationalist journalistic style to convey this message. In any organization or group, religious or not, be it Catholic, Protestant or other, there will unfortunately be some who abuse their positions. I had a friend in a Protestant church who's preacher abused many. But we dont hear from other denominations. It has been one sided. Many have focused on the Catholic Church for their attacks. I did attend Catholic school during my younger years and it was a true blessing. In my High School years, my sister past away tragically and holy miracles happened within my family after her death that are unexplainable in today's age. I do hope in the future reporters show a bit of respect for others who hold Christianity dear to them. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing but as Pope John Paul said it best, " The question confronting the Church today is not any longer whether the man in the street can grasp a religious message, but how to employ the communications media so as to let him have the full impact of the Gospel message. Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought."
Posted By Anonymous Anthony, Orange County, CA : 1:34 AM ET
I watched the program "Sins of the Father" tonight with interest. It is good that finally this kind of crime is being exposed. But 10 yrs. ago my son, who happens to be mentally ill and someone who never had more than a parking ticket on his 35 yr. record was falsely accused by a child of sexually molesting her. His life has been hell every since. This child could have been molested by either her mother or sisters "johns", by one of three uncles who all have served time for violent crimes and one uncle for pedaphilia. But my poor son is in prison now for being two weeks late in registering a change of address and for a crime he never committed in the first place. We have some evidence that this girl lies but because of poor legal representation, my son took an alford plea and so, even if the girl ever recants, I've been told there is no hope his record will ever be cleared. This is the other side of the ugly coin.
Posted By Anonymous Patricia W. Baltimore,Md. : 1:41 AM ET
I just want to thank Thomas Roberts for having the courage to do this phenomenal special...I just don't think he has any idea of how many lives he just saved by choosing to go public.... Sincerely, Karin Chesley
Body/Mind/Spirit Therapist
Posted By Anonymous Karin Chesley, Palm Beach Gardens, FL : 1:44 AM ET
Thank you for posting these helpful links. As the parent of a child that was raped by a family acquaintance at the age of 15 I wish that she had been given the benefit of such anonymous help. She remained silent for over 5 years. Ultimately silence became the victor. With a single shot silence was assured forever. She was 21 years old.

Thank you for choosing to become a part of the solution.

Mr. Thomas has done a very brave thing by coming forward. There is no doubt in my mind that CNN has provided information and awareness that will save lives.
Posted By Anonymous Jayne Hanson, Walker, MN : 1:47 AM ET
Any negative feedback regarding Thomas Robert's story is obviously from people that don't have a clue what real courage is all about. For those idiots that suggest this story would some how benefit Thomas Roberts already successful career need their heads examined. It is heroic of Roberts to use his public persona to shine the light on this dark secret that the Catholic church wants to keep covered up, those kind of secrets can kill children. God bless Mr Roberts and his family.
Posted By Anonymous Lucy Bonnici Caledon East Ont. Canada : 1:51 AM ET
I would like to commend CNN for airing this 'needed to be seen' program and extend my profound sorrow to Thomas Roberts and send him my admiration for coming forward with his story. It was evident how difficult it was for him, but he was steadfast and made himself get through it. The final blow, the joke called a sentence that was given this child abuser was difficult for me to take. Please let Mr. Roberts know I will be willing to sign any sort of petition or whatever is needed that he deems appropriate to see that this does not happen to one more child.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Green, Bellingham, WA : 1:56 AM ET
Wayne Fr PEI,
I watch AC 360 habitually and tonights show was captivating. Thomas Roberts, your a tough and courageous man for doing what you done and your actions are looked upon with great admiration. Thoughts and prayers go to you and your family. Take care.
Posted By Anonymous Wayne, PEI Canada : 1:59 AM ET
Because "Church and State separate." This gives religious organizations much leway for abuse on children. In my case when I tried to report a crime against a child the police department would'nt go and investigate. This crime took place @ a mega religious church/school.
Posted By Anonymous Lynn Yacko Glendale Arizona : 2:05 AM ET
Thank you for running the program tonight on abuse. It needs to be exposed - laws need to be changed AND ENFORCED.
Posted By Anonymous Karen Wilkinson, Rohnert Park, CA : 2:30 AM ET
Your show only continues to show how one of the biggest, well-funded corporations, The Catholic Church, deals with it's darker side...
they put their best PR people on it, hire great lobbyist and keep doing business as usual, obviously, no matter the cost....
the Christian way?
dan in s.c.
Posted By Anonymous Dan, Charleston SC : 4:18 AM ET
I watched your special tonight with Thomas Roberts. I am very disappointed with many of your viewers comments. Many have stated that they doubt the validity of Thomas Roberts claims. I am 36 years old and was also molested at the age of 11. As a young man, I was confused and embarrassed. The man that molested me was not from the church but the older son of family friends. Much like Thomas Roberts feelings of being ashamed and numb, it is something you never forget. There must be a Federal law that punishes molesters and pedifiles with the strictest laws to deter this behavior. These predators are altering / ruining many lives.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, San Diego CA : 4:23 AM ET
I share your tears and heartache Thomas for the abuse you have endured, as I too have endured similar abuse as a child. Your story will have a tremendous impact on the lives of others. The Truth will be your salvation and healing. Keep fighting for the sake of others... that too will be your gift and will change the course of yours and many lives in the process. Thank you for sharing your difficult story. I pray for your happiness in life.
Posted By Anonymous Robin Richardson, Santa Rosa, Calif : 4:30 AM ET
Tonights program gave an ounce of insight to a wide spread problem. In targeting the church however I'm concerned that it may be limiting the expansiveness of this problem by focusing on just the church. Read for instance the armed forces criminal court opinions and see how many service members there are who are offenders,I feel that too much is left out. The root of this problem is being missed or overlooked. Many offenders were once victims themselves.They come from every background and yes they are both hetersexual and homosexual,and can appear to have it completely together.They can be highly intelligent and absoltely likeable and even lovable.These victims/abusers have learned to bury much of their own abuse as your show revealed and they deal with their actions in much the same way.Often burying their guilt and hiding their shame. An abusers greatest weapon is a childs trust and loving nature. It's that nature that keeps a child often imprisioned along with fear,and the repercussions of telling. Not every victim is an abuser,nor has every abuser been victimized as even the internet used in a wrong manner can turn any individual over time into an abuser.Teens and children unsupervised being the easiest prey to these abuses as they can privately or secretly become entrapped with ideas and habits that are so wrong and detrimental to not only themsevles but society as well.Sexual abuse is becoming so rampant not only because of the home computer but because times have changed this generations ideas and values mostly I believe.That too is where and why I think it's becoming more rampant.Children nowadays have little fear of adults and are becoming more independant at earlier ages.When they get themselves into a situation such as this,if they do not have very open communication with adults then they will not be inclined to reveal the trouble to an adult especially when it is an adult who has taken advantage of their innocence and trust in the first place.I do not truly believe that perpertators can really comprhend the extensive damage that they do to their victims because many have learned so well to bury so much of their own torment that they cannot even comprehend the extent of the trouble they've placed upon a child.I think that in their minds they place adult ideas on children as they cannot comprehend what a normal childhood is as there's being wiped out, they do not trust adults themselves and this inadequacy to relate to adults leads to anger towards them that is released in the safest manner that they can experience so that they can feel that theyr'e in control of their lives.The thought is not for the victim but for their need for power,control and adequacy or importance.This is the sickness.The root of destruction all around.Destuction to self and the most innocent.It is imperitive that the focus to counsel these children,victims both quickly,extensively and given a huge amount of care,in every way is the key to eradicating some of these problems.Every victim is a potential adult abuser and should not be ignored. They need and deserve the very best of care to overcome the abuse and to lead fairly normal lives that will not end with them becoming victimizers themselves.
Posted By Anonymous Von,Fort Walton Beach Florida : 4:33 AM ET
I am sickened by the actions of Father Jeff. As a neighbor who once lived across the alley way from the back of his house on Cottage Lane, we often suspected that something wasn't "quite right" about the endless stream of young men coming in and out his back door. To now know that our worst suspicions were in fact true so many years later, deeply saddens me. Father Jeff was a well-respected neighbor. His sister a nun, we as neighbors simply thought of him and his family as "good Catholics." It was nice knowing we had a "man of faith" living in our neighborhood. In that time and era, it was unfathomable that any abuse such as he inflicted upon his victims was taking place. When I think back to how many times I simply waved "hello" to him and the boys leaving his home as I drove by (a smile and friendly gester coming from Father Jeff himself)...unaware of the harm he likely just perpetrated in the home. What guilt I feel for not acting on my own intuition that a priest shouldn't be entertaining so many young men in his own home. My heart and prayers go out to ALL his victims.
Posted By Anonymous Maddie, Doylestown, PA : 4:35 AM ET
After finding out Thomas was gay a few months ago when he came out at a gay journalists convention in Miami, before this special report was aired tonight, I expected him to at least officially come out of the closet as a gay man to CNN viewers and I was so disappointed and a bit infuriated that he did not or that there was no mention of his sexuality. Not that his sexuality has anything to do with this case, but it just made it seem like the other victim, who was mentioned as gay, should be the "gay" one and Thomas can pretend to be the "straight" one or assumed hetero one when he is gay as well. I just felt it betrayed all of us gay men who thought this was a perfect opportunity to show that gay men can overcome this sort of dreadful experience and all the stuff we have to grow up with. Being that Thomas is very, for lack of a better word, "straight acting" and the other victim was a bit "gayer", it made it seem like Thomas was better than him or far superior than him. And still many CNN viewers are unaware of Thomas being gay since it did not make the major news media back then and I thought it would be nice to see a gay man who is out and proud to be gay and just admit it, if anything to break stereotypes about gay men as well. I guess CNN is not ready for an out gay man to anchor on their network just yet. Very disappointing.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, Minneapolis, MN : 4:43 AM ET
I also want to add that there seemed to be a deliberate cover up on behalf of Roberts or CNN to make it seem like, unlike the other gay victim, Roberts went to see this priest for counseling because of his family's "divorce" and not for his emerging gay feelings as a child, even though it was reported in the press that that was the principal reason his family sought counseling for Roberts, for his gay orientation. It's upsetting and insulting that there was no mention of it.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, Minneapolis, MN : 5:14 AM ET
Thank you Thomas Roberts and Anderson Cooper. More should be done to alert parents about the rampant pedophilia among priests. Pedophiles deserve the toughest sentences and no institution should be allowed to protect and promote pedophilia. Naive parents should be alerted.
Posted By Anonymous Cristina Kinman, Miami, Florida : 7:09 AM ET
Bravo to you Thomas Roberts for your bravity in coming forward with your experience of sexual abuse and also to the other young man, Michael Bowels, who showed the same courage in revealing his violation.

I too suffered sexual abuse as a child [mine was from neighbours and it continued for a number of years].
I know what it feels like to carry this haunting secret inside and how it affects every moment of every day and night for the rest of our lives.

I also know how difficult it is to speak of this violation to others because it means admitting it to ourselves as well - I was only able to do this myself a couple of years ago.
I want to thank both of you men for your courage in coming forth and revealing this Pedophile who hides behind the name of God and uses this hallowed position to sieze his innocent-trusting prey - and as we've learned, he is only one of a great many 'men of the cloth' who sexual assult children and continue to get away with it.
These predators are sheltered and protected by the elders of their religion, who then become accomplices to this most horrific of crimes. Yet as we've seen time and time again even the 'so called' justice system also fails us all in the end.
But only in speaking out can these predators be exposed and the laws be changed. You are both heroes for your courage in coming forward.
And Anderson Cooper you too are to be commended for bringing this story out for the world to see.
I pray it will have the impact that it should and that the all victims will someday soon have the justice and protection that they/we all deserve.
Posted By Anonymous Kacey Ward, Vancouver, CANADA : 7:45 AM ET
What ever happened to plain old news ~ the kind in which journalists would report the facts and let people draw conclusions from a fair and balanced report. Anderson Cooper's support of current legislation before Congress at the close of "Sins of the Father" implies to the viewing public that the legislation is just and that the Catholic Church's objection to it is unfounded and implicitly directed against the victims of abuse. He forgets that the Catholic Church is NOT solely the bishops who lead it NOR is it comprised only of the priests who have committed heinous crimes. Rather, it is made up of many faithful and innocent people. Why not do a story on the pros and cons of the legislation and let people decide? It would be a milestone in modern jounalism!
Posted By Anonymous Faithful Catholic, Laurel, Maryland : 8:37 AM ET
Thomas is lucky he is not the norm. Many victims, most victims do not overcome the damage. Judges should be held accountable for sealing records, probating peodiphiles, adding shame to shame... and getting by with their revictimization. Sexual abuse kills more than just the human being at times. It kills inspiration, lifespan, normal existance. Many victims become suicide statistics, prostitutes, sex addicts, child porn addicts, drug and alcohol addicts, drop outs, under achievers, sexual preditors themselves, prison inmates.... If you realize this, how can you give someone 18 months for sexually abusing a minor?
Posted By Anonymous Angela Kortz Funke, Esq., : 2:48 PM ET
As a childhood sexual abuse survivor who has done all her work around it through years of in depth therapy, fully understanding the confusion that comes with destroyed trust and boundaries in such a situation, I still have this troubling question - why Thomas kept going back to Jeff's house voluntarily, especially staying overnight, in Jeff's room, for 3 years? Was his concern for being kicked out of elite Calvert Hall worth 3 years of the "awful" experiences he describes enduring in Anderson's show last night?
To make matters much more conflicted for me given my own abuse history - I know Jeff very well. He is a truly magnificent human being. Truly magnificent. I agree that he crossed a line that should absolutely have never have been crossed between adult/child and esp. between counselor/client or chaplain/student. I also know that Jeff cared very deeply for Thomas and considered their relationship just that, a relationship - not some repeated horrible predator/trapped victim dynamic as this story is being described.
Perhaps we should all be careful of immediately jumping on the witch hunt bandwagon which is currently such a hot topic against the Catholic church and see that this might ALSO be another very sad example of the horrible impacts of homophobia and its pervasive, damaging effects - on both gay priests and young men who question their sexuality.
Finally, I hope Thomas can find forgiveness in his heart, fully understanding that's not easy to do and that it must happen in his own time. What I know about forgiveness is that the one able to honestly give it gets the greatest gift by doing so, true liberation from the abuse and the trauma. I wish that, and peace, for both of these good men.
Posted By Anonymous Suzanne, Nyack, NY : 3:08 PM ET
I just want to say that may God bless Thomas Roberts for coming forward with his story. He had great curage, even though it was painful for him. I think that he will be a blessing to others who are experiencing the same thing. My God bless Anderson Cooper for doing a wonderful job interiewing him.
Posted By Anonymous Penny Farria Missouri City Tx. : 3:21 PM ET
Thank You! What a wonderful story!!! I think this is an inspiration to a lot of victims, and we need more people to take that first step and publicly acknowledge that this has happen to them and that it is not ok! And it just shocks me to no end, that this is going on in this community and all the church wants to do is keep it on the hush�hush!

I am glad that there are individuals who are not letting these sick people get away with this! I am proud of you all!!
Posted By Anonymous Logan Kendick, San Diego Calif. : 3:47 PM ET
This was the most informative show I have seen on priest abuse. It was heartbreaking to see what these men went through and are still suffering from.

We have so many priests here in Delaware who have just now been "outed" who were molesting 30 years ago! Why did it take so long?

Thank you for this story. I'm sure there were many people watching who felt relief to know they are not alone in their suffering.
Posted By Anonymous Kara, New Castle, DE : 3:49 PM ET
Thank you Mr.Roberts,Anderson & Charlie for this story. Thank you for the respect in delivering it. Thank you for helping other victims.

Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne R. Laval Quebec : 3:51 PM ET
Mr. Roberts, your courage and strength are to be admired. Your ability to so articutately tell your story left me in tears. How amazing to be able to take this incredible act of abuse and turn it around to help others. I am so sorry for what happened to you and I pray for your full emotional and spiritual recovery. I have no doubt your story touched the hearts of so many other victims who for many reasons are unable to seek justice. Shame on the Catholic Church and the Justice System for their repeated stand to tolerate abuses far more damaging then they will ever allow themselves to understand. Please take care of yourself and allow yourself the healing that is needed. Thank you for being a powerful voice for the numerous victims to ashamed to ever say a word. Hold your head high knowing you have nothing to be ashamed of.
Posted By Anonymous Colleen, Chicago, IL : 4:27 PM ET
Why is it that we Catholics put our Church and its priests so high up on pedestals that we can't, or won't, see the truth? Thanks Thomas Roberts for having the courage to expose Fr. Jeff and tell your story to the world. Thanks also for bringing to light how our beloved, human, Catholic Church institution lacks the ability to face its own sinfulness. Mea maxima culpa.
Posted By Anonymous Sheila Diodene, New Orleans LA : 4:39 PM ET
I too was taken back that no mention of Roberts being gay was mentioned... while abuse is abuse -- he talked about being unable to move right or left with the information to others... could this be a case of another Gay male struggle to deal with being Gay himself..... was not part of his struggle the "Gay Struggle" he missed a huge chance to say I am "GAY" and that is ok..... where was the possitive Gay message
Posted By Anonymous David, NYC : 4:44 PM ET
I commend Thomas Roberts for having the courage to come forward. I lived in silence for twenty years after being abused by an uncle. Anderson Cooper handled the matter very responsibly and respectfully. Thank you to both of you for doing this story.
Posted By Anonymous Rick, Cincinnati, OH : 4:44 PM ET
Thomas Roberts-
Kudos to you for having the courage to step forward and confront your abuser. Shame on the court system and the Vatican for not disciplining him appropriately. You have to know that your coming forward has helped other people with the same secret. I truly believe that God has a purpose for all of us, and this is yours. Please continue your fight to change the laws. Be proud of who you are and how far you have come in this life. God will never give you more than you can handle.
Posted By Anonymous Michelle Smith, Britt, Iowa : 4:49 PM ET
I thought that that 'expose' of abuse by a priest of Thomas Roberts was ridiculous. All of that repetition and somber music was a patently obvious attempt to create dismay, shock and revulsion in the hapless viewer. I'm sure that the local Boy Scout leader guilty of the same acts would not even be mentioned, and surely not exposed to such homophobic hate as was this priest. I understand that Roberts is a self-acknowledged homosexual, and might easily have been of that pursuasion when he was seduced. The concept that homosexual seduction is the worst possible crime is evidence of acute homophobia, much like is prevalent in Islamic cultures, where young boys have been hanged for this 'offense' It's anybody's guess how many false claims have been made against priests to take advantage of the 'jackpot'. The Church can't afford to defend each case, and settles for millions. That the cause of this rampant homosexuality in the Church is due to it's own hypocrisy, seems to have escaped everyone. By repressing sexuality, this strongest of all drives has to function in the dark and in secret, resulting in these 'pedophile' priests.
Posted By Anonymous Michael Shaw, Kellogg, ID : 4:55 PM ET
It was very courageous for Thomas Roberts to talk publicly about his ordeal. I am amazed at the resilience of the human spirit and Thomas embodies that and more. I would like to wish him both healing and inner peace.
Posted By Anonymous Nancy, St. Louis MO : 5:03 PM ET
very funny that the catholic diocese of wilmington, de. aired a commercial during this program to tell us all about the value of a catholic education. i laughed out loud.
Posted By Anonymous margaret, newark, delawaqre : 5:06 PM ET
Mr Roberts should be very very proud of himself. It takes great courage and emotional strength to be able just to speak of the horrors he endoured all those years. I wish him a lifetime of good mental health and happiness. I hope he will able to live life to the fullest not just exist in the pain.
Posted By Anonymous Heather, Murrieta, Ca : 5:28 PM ET
Thomas Roberts' story is an unbelievable one. I cannot even imagine the pain and suffering he has been through. What is even more unbelievable is the pain and suffering that the church has inflicted upon him in their blatant effort to not hold their priests responsible.
I am an intern reporter at a local new station in my town and I cannot fathom putting myself in front of the camera and telling the entire world something that is so secret, so dark... I commend Thomas Roberts in his fight against Father Jeff and the state of Maryland. For him to come forward shows how strong he is as a person. Even through all his pain he chose to step up and hold accountable this man who has ruined so many lives.
Posted By Anonymous Mallory Walters, Memphis, TN. : 5:40 PM ET
As a devout Catholic wife and mother, I am outraged that Thomas Roberts' predatory rapist is still a Catholic priest, and that rapist is further enabled by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Thomas Roberts has my complete support in exposing the predatory habits of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Congratulations to Anderson Cooper for the fine job he did on exposing a sexual predator and the predator's enablers, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Let us all clean "over and out" the Catholic Church!
Posted By Anonymous Stephanie Town, Landenberg, PA : 5:46 PM ET
I sobbed at the abuse Thomas Roberts shared so bravely on your program last evening. He was abused by his abuser and the state of Maryland. The constituants of Maryland should be ashamed of their elected officials and demand new leadership. Hasn't Thomas gone through enough?
Posted By Anonymous Kathy, Indiana, PA : 5:57 PM ET
I debated about whether or not to add my comments about last night's "Sins of the Father' special report because I didn't want to submit more of the same sentiments as others had already provided. However, to my surprise, there wasn't a deluge of them, so here I am.

At the opening of the report, Anderson provides the appropriate warning about the contents of the show, some of it explicit and raw, and suggested that it might not be appropriate for children.

Children? What about the rest of the viewing audience?

I believe that Thomas' story was one that needed telling. The more that unconscionable behavior of certain adults toward kids are kept in the minds of the public-at-large, then hopefully, the more mindful parents and other adults entrusted with the safety and well-being of children will continue to be of the world around them where a child's carefree existence can be interrupted or taken altogether.

That being said, I fail to understand what the value to the overall purpose of the piece were Thomas' obviously painful recollections, in detail, about the specific acts Fr. Toohey did to him. My understanding was that it was meant to be one man's story of priestly abuse, the years of suffering, shame and pain he lived with after the abuse stopped, bringing his abuser to justice, and his efforts to try and change the laws of the state of Maryland as they pertain to the statue of limitations that exist for the reporting of acts of molestation and sexual abuse by priests.

If 360's intention was to present Thomas' story in a cutting-edge manner, replete with slick graphics, repetitious replays of key sound bites and gut-wrenching, �put-the-viewers-in-the-room with Thomas� moments as he suffers yet again with the horrible sexual acts inflicted on him by a trusted counselor, then mission accomplished. However, I didn't need Thomas' detailed accounts of what he went through. I was watching the piece with a person who had been through similar incidents as a child at the hands of a parent's business associate and who wasn't believed when she tried to tell the very people she should have been able to trust.

I feel that the majority of the piece could have been kept intact and still been as edgy, powerful and resonant, sans the 'sensational' elements. If, as a journalist, Thomas Roberts felt that adding these horrific details would serve as a way to step up the debate of how these acts continue to be handled in the government and the Catholic Church, then I respect his belief. If Anderson and Charlie Moore, the show's senior producer, felt this same way, then again, nothing but respect. However, the gray area for me on the logic of including these few minutes in the piece is the shock value aspect. Is this the new face of American journalism? At what point do edgy and provocative give way to sensationalistic and tabloidesque?

Isn't what Thomas had to endure shocking enough? Surely even adults who haven't been subjected to this humiliation have a good enough imagination to envision what he went through without having it spelled out in agonizing detail?

In the words of Anderson a few nights ago, I don't want to seem like an old fuddy-duddy (at age 37, no less), but I would have preferred a little less in-your-face reporting and a little more faith in my ability to imagine the worst (and the best) in human experience.
Posted By Anonymous Carolyn, Washington, DC : 6:00 PM ET
I applaud Thomas Roberts for his courage to tell his story. I am Catholic and attended Catholic schools from grade school through high school. I understood where he was coming from.

It seems so unfair that the Catholic archdiocese is so powerful and the pirests who are prosecuted receive a light sentencing.
Posted By Anonymous Barbara, Medford, OR : 6:25 PM ET
Congratulations Thomas for working through the abuse and coming out the other side into the light. You've learned how to make lemonade out of the lemons that life handed you and your experience will help others through that difficult dark journey.
Laws that are currently in place to hold abusers accountable are flawed because they have time limits. If an abuser is not discovered for a specified number of years, he (or she) is literally scott-free in many states.
The laws do not take into account the fact that children and adolescents are too immature, both intellectually and emotionally, to fully grasp the concept of sexuality. They are incapable of understanding, until much later, that what was done to them was a crime.
All these children know is their emotions - and that they hurt and feel shameful. The sexual predator counts on this; tending to pick the most sexually innocent victims he or she can get access to.
In addition to changing legislation to remove the statutes of limitations (can you imagine the IRS forgiving a hefty tax payment you "forgot" to pay 20 years ago?), we need to educate our kids better.
Children as young as two years old can be taught to identify "good" and "bad" touching, even if they don't fully understand the sexual undertones. Self-esteem is important too. We need to teach children that their bodies were created by God and there can be nothing dirty or shameful about something created by God. Fostering strong self-esteem and the "it takes a village to raise a child" attitude in the community is the best defense against sexual predators.
Congratulations again, Thomas. There is healing at the end of the journey, and you are on your way there.
Posted By Anonymous Julie San Diego, CA : 6:31 PM ET
In all of the reporting over the years about child abuse by priests, I do not recall such candor on the part of the abused as that expressed by Tom Roberts. Thank you for pulling few punches in this report.
Posted By Anonymous Gary Peterson, Minneapolis MN : 6:36 PM ET
I was saddened as I watched Thomas Roberts shared about his abuse by the priest. Yet I appreciated his courage to tell his story. I want him to know that Our Father in heaven is a just God and anyone who does evil(priest or not) will pay have to answer to Him. Justice is in God's hand.
Posted By Anonymous Beverley , Hackensack, NJ : 6:40 PM ET
After viewing this program, I cannot understand comments from people like Jim in New York or Anthony in Orange County. Obviously, they have never dealt with child molestation or talked with the victims of such crimes that impact the victims physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Thousands of victims still suffer and yet we as a society refuse to speak out and address the problem once and for all.

Five years ago, my brother Dan found out about the local priest abusing children and went to face the priest himself and see if these were rumors or the truth. The next day, my brother and an intern that worked for our family were murdered by this priest who later took his own life when the trust was coming out. Since then, our family has been on a mission to change the church in order that this can never happen again, protect innocent children, and support victims. The program last night and the courage of those two men to come out and discuss, is a step that we must all take seriously. I encourage all viewers to take action locally and for CNN to continue taking on this issue to demand reform within the church.
Posted By Anonymous Tom O'Connell, Cross Plains, WI : 7:05 PM ET
I applaud CNN for doing this story and Thomas Roberts for his courage in coming out on national television. I am not a Roman Catholic but a Protestant. However, I was also sexually abused at the hands of "Christian" leaders--in this case teachers in the Christian high school to which my parents sent me to help me stay away from the dangers of "secular" society.

I think what really resonated with me most of all was Mr. Roberts' chilling question as to where was the justice in the very short sentence given to the priest who abused him and sent him on a twenty year odyssey of guilt, shame, confusion, despair, and even an attempt at suicide. I can relate to that. The abuse in my case occurred when I was 15-18 years old, but at 45 years old I still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, I still require weekly therapy with a psychiatrist, I still struggle with self-hatred and bouts of suicidal despair. The adults who sexually abuse children steal from them hours of illicit pleasure. The cost to those kids is often a lifetime of psychological trauma. It seems so unfair that our justice system draws arbitrary lines after which these crimes are supposedly no longer crimes. The violation lives on inside of our souls.
Posted By Anonymous Dawn DeVries, Richmond, Virginia : 7:07 PM ET
I sent both of my children to a Catholic grade school. I even taught in a Catholic school for a brief period of time. I left the Catholic church about 10 years ago for the simple fact the church is a "we talk the talk, we do not walk the walk" organization. That much is evident in the case of Father Jeff.

The abuser (Father Jeff) is still an ordained priest, he served a ridiculously miniscule sentence of 10 months in prison and was released into house arrest for another 8 months for reasons concerning his own safety. What?!

And yet we have two grown men who were abused as young boys (by the priest they were taught to respect), they have spent most of their lives trying to overcome the fall-out from this abuse, have suffered incredibly, and then are abused again by the judicial system of the state of Maryland.

Hmmmm, apparently no one in the church or the state of Maryland sees the incredible hypocrisy here????
Posted By Anonymous Melissa, Pulaski, PA : 7:31 PM ET
To add to the support group information posted on this blog, there is a group which helps support victims of sexual abuse whose abusers are members of the Catholic Order, the Legion of Christ; it is called ReGAIN.
Posted By Anonymous Glenn Favreau, Washington, DC : 7:35 PM ET
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