Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Your questions about sex abuse report
People ask us all the time: "Why don't you guys follow up on more of the stories you do." We should. We agree. So here goes...

In the last 24 hours, we've had an overwhelming response to last night's special report on our colleague from Headline News, Thomas Roberts. Many of you watched the report, which revealed Thomas' personal account of the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a Roman Catholic priest, and we had more than one million page views of Thomas' story on CNN.com. Thousands of you e-mailed us.

So the follow-up? Thomas Roberts will appear live on "360" tonight to answer some of your questions. Many of you commended Thomas for his courage in speaking out. And many of you had questions about Thomas' story that we did not answer. Here is what some of you had to say:

Betty Ann of Nacodoches, Texas asked, "Is Thomas Roberts still a Catholic?"

Nicky of Calgary, Alberta, asked: "Why aren't parents teaching their children about inappropriate touching and encouraging them to discuss when it happens?"

Jacob of Norfolk, Virginia, was disappointed in our presentation of the Catholic Church: "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?"

Hunter of Charlotte, North Carolina, wondered why a young man between the ages of 14 and 17 could not defend himself and stop this from happening.

Kay of Long Beach, California, thanked Roberts: "Mr. Roberts you a model of COURAGE. Demonstrating your ability to conquer fear and dispair by publicly speaking about your private pain and the scars you were left to deal with gives me hope that I too can some day reveal the events that robbed me of my innocence so many years ago. Thank you."

Thomas of Baldwin, Michigan, asked: "Why tell the story now?" (I can answer this one: We asked Thomas to tell the story now. This project did not begin with Thomas coming to us. Instead, a year ago we heard that Thomas was testifying before Maryland state legislature to press them to change the state's statute of limitations laws. It piqued our interest and we began shooting his story then. In the meantime, Anderson and the show have been to countless countries shooting pieces for "360"; we realized so much time had passed that the convicted abuser, Father Jeff Tooey, had actually been released from jail and that other abuse victims were back in front of the Maryland Legislature testifying on that same issue: changing the statute of limitations.)

So tonight, we'll put some of your questions to Thomas.
Posted By David Doss, "360" Executive Producer: 7:15 PM ET
Hi. What has Roberts learned that might be useful to others-- parents of potential victims, other adult survivors, etc., about warning signs someone is being abused and also how to cope with being a survivor? What and who has helped him come to terms and cope? How does it still affect him? Are there any positive things that have come from this (such as wanting to help others)?

Also, please give several resources and, if you can, post information (on the TV screen) in bullets about warning signs (what you might see in kids who are being abused), predator profiles, tips for keeping kids safe, tips for coming to terms with abuse, etc.
Posted By Anonymous Norah, West Chester, PA : 7:37 PM ET
Thank you to Thomas Roberts for his courage and willingness to come forward. Also, thank you to CNN for continuing to take an interest in a story that exploded on the scene in 2002, but continues to need to be told.

As a Catholic who made a commitment to help change the Church after the scope of the clergy sexual abuse crisis was revealed in Boston in 2002, I can tell you how difficult the experience has been for Catholics who are seeking social justice. That, of course, does not at all compare to the suffering experienced by survivors of clergy sexual abuse, which is lifelong.

I believe it is imperative for all Catholics to come forward and seek positive change within the Church. That change has not been forthcoming. As such, I also believe it is imperative for Catholics to support legislation to extend the statute of legislation for civil and criminal penalties for those who perpetrate crimes of sexual abuse against children. We have had some success in the past 12 months in Massachusetts. Other states, including Maryland, can succeed too.

Thomas, will you continue in your worthy and just fight to create stronger laws? CNN, will you continue to cover this important story?
Posted By Anonymous Suzanne, Boston, MA : 7:38 PM ET
David - I was shocked by some of the comments in the first blog about this story. I am surprised by the amount of people who just don't believe it. If it didn't happen to them, then Thomas Roberts must be lying. How hypocritical is that?!
Posted By Anonymous Nicki, Calgary, Alberta : 7:40 PM ET
I wonder if part of the problem of abuse these gentlemen suffered is maybe the guilt they suffered because they found it physically enjoyable? I just don't understant why they kept letting it happen at their age. Maybe it was dealing with their own conflicts about their sexuality that caused them such pain.
Posted By Anonymous Tony Boarman, Owensboro, KY : 8:07 PM ET
As I was waking up this morning, I felt a sense of deep sadness, and loss. Not quite awake, I tried to think of what had happened yesterday to make me feel this way. Then I remembered what it was. I had watched Anderson Cooper�s report, the night before, on sexual abuse by a priest. The report was powerful, sensitive, and yet clear in what it was communicating. I feel such appreciation for Thomas Roberts, and hope he is able to know that while his openness must have been brutally difficult for him, it is a monumental contribution to our society as a whole and certainly will touch many people in a helpful way. I do not see how legislators could possibly overlook the facts so clearly set out, and not be moved to action. Besides that, there is nothing more respectable than letting the truth be known - who can put a value on that?

I wish there were something I could do to lift the burden that was so wrongly put on Thomas and Michael and so many others. I, too, went to Catholic school and felt grateful for the high quality education. I know just what the environment was like - or seemed to be - it was defined and seen as holy and safe. Yet, students were being victimized in that very environment!
I hope and pray that Thomas and Michael, and all the other young people who were taken advantage of and betrayed, can know fully that there is no part of this for which they are, or ever were, responsible.
I feel that I could personally punish that despicable non-priest, even though I�m normally a very tolerant and peaceful person. Of course, that�s just anger talking, but surely it�s only right to wish for justice.

I am a practicing Catholic, but stopped routinely putting money in the collection basket years ago and only give money to specific, documented causes. The church has (in a much, much smaller way) betrayed all of us, by spending our money to protect, hide and defend these terrible abusers, and I will not support that. For that matter, the Church has made itself yet another victim of the abuser-priests because it has reacted in a self-destructive way. How did the church hierarchy lose the word of God - the words of Jesus who told us to care for those who aren�t as strong as we are, to treat His children and with love and compassion? By this, the church has done much harm to good clergy and good parishioners, though this harm is miniscule as compared to the harm to innocent school children. Like many Catholics, I have much difficulty reconciling this with the faith that I have valued - and wonder if/how I can be a Catholic without being under the church hierarchy, for whom I have no respect at all. When Pope John Paul died and people said he should be canonized, I said (unpopularly) that even he was part of the problem - he himself let the Church down because he could have and should have addressed it and failed to do so.

By sheer luck, I have never been abused, and have never written anything about any television or news show. But this CNN program caused me to feel much passion and sorrow.
Most of all, I wish and hope that Michael and Thomas, and so many others, had not suffered as they did, and I deeply hope that their suffering is less and less every day.
Posted By Anonymous Cathy , Naples, Florida : 8:11 PM ET
Im sure one you wont answer, do you think that you being gay has anything to do with the fact that you didn't question this abuse earlier?

What I mean is that as a gay young man, Im sure you were questioning yourself in that regards, then this came along. Did you think that it was a way to explore your sexuality?
Posted By Anonymous Eric Thomas, Boston, MA : 8:13 PM ET
Some of your bloggers are sorely misinformed. First, teaching children to defend themselves is great BUT children also are taught to trust certain people in their lives. Not too many years ago, it was pretty much a given that we can always trust a priest - a priest stood in the place of God.
Also, the children who are victimized are chosen - very skillfully - by their abusers, because they are children who are going through trauma or difficulty of some kind, and are alone and isolated from parents or other adults who they might otherwise talk to or depend on.
One other thing, sure a boy can defend himself physically, but this abuse was so much more pervasive than physical - it was (often is) a mind game of control, trust, instilling shame in a young person without the maturity or coping skills to reject it.
The blogger that defended the Church - it's ridiculous, and almost laughable if it weren't so pitiful, to say that the Church has a zero tolerance. Look at the facts!! (I am Catholic, too, and am proud of my faith but embarrassed and disgusted by this chapter in the church's history.)

I'm just so angry to read that some people are anything but appalled and sorrowful about what these people suffered as children, through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN!!! (Of course, thank God we have the right to free speech and free thought.)
Posted By Anonymous Carol, Naples, Florida : 8:20 PM ET
The young man Roberts was molested. Why did you have to go into the details of molestation. Strikes me of sensationalism and titillation for some of your viewers.
Posted By Anonymous Jim, Suffern, NY : 8:26 PM ET
I do understand when sexual abuse happens to prepubescent boys, because they are psychologically unable to comprehend what is going on. The abuser has the ultimate power over them. However, Mr. Thomas was 14 when the abuse started. Why couldn't he have walked away?
Posted By Anonymous Sam, Chicago, IL : 8:32 PM ET
I attended the same high school as Thomas, Calvert Hall College H.S. in Baltimore. The priest who abused Thomas had far too many opportunities to be close with young men in potentially intimate situations.

In the 10th grade, all students had to spend a full school day in "retreat", with Father Jeff Toohey being the only adult present. At this time, students would open up about their problems, and, if things got emotional, they would retreat to a private room with the priest on a one-to-one basis.

At that time, the 12th grade students assigned to monitor the retreat would stay with the 10th graders.

It can never really be known how many victims of priest pedophilia there are. But what is most confusing is the way the Calvert Hall community stood by Toohey for years after his initial charges in 1993. This is a reflection of the hypocracy and blatant moral contradictions not only within the Catholic church, but in the parochial school system as well.
Posted By Anonymous Derrick Credito, Towson, MD : 8:54 PM ET
No matter how many people question whether or not "a gay young man" could have stopped this abuse at the time, the fact remains that a person that Thomas Roberts trusted with his innermost feelings took complete and utter advantage of him. People like that seem to enjoy holding power over those not as well equiped or assertive; besides the fact that if a small part of Thomas accepted the fact that Fr. Jeff had been abusing him, then he wasn't yet strong enough to deal with it. I know first-hand what kind of power people can demonstrate (abusive parent(s), superior at work, etc), and there is no way to stop it if you are psychologically beaten down by that other person. We must stop blaming people for the abuse they suffer, no matter what their sexual orientation might happen to be! I just hope that Thomas is surrounded by friends and family that love him and will stop at nothing to bring him into some sort of real and lasting peace. God bless you for doing something so very difficult.
Posted By Anonymous Jameson, Boston, MA : 8:55 PM ET
While I am certainly no apologist for the priest's indefensible behavior, it is incomprehensible to me that boys 17 and older, and quite intelligent, would not speak out earlier if the priest's conduct was as offensive to them then as they now describe it. As a result, it makes Thomas and the other gentleman less than ideal spokespersons, and I suspect that, in part, may be the reason the legislation that they supported before the Maryland legislature was not passed.
Posted By Anonymous Robert Cole Braxton, Petersburg, VA : 8:57 PM ET
I heard your story about Thomas Roberts and I can completely relate. I was abused by my grand father and have worked to get over that. In watching the broadcast it appears he has a ring on his left hand. How did he get over it? I would really like to know if there are any support groups.

Thomas, I wish you the best and a happy life.

Posted By Anonymous Joe, Dana Point Southern California : 9:00 PM ET
actually this is not a new story for the others about priest doing sexual abuse. the News here is Mr. Thomas Roberts try to change the law regarding to this crime!which is a very difficult thing to do and this will not benefit him only but the future thank you again and goodluck to him!

regards to all staff and crew of AC360 and to Mr. Anderson Cooper!
Posted By Anonymous Jemillex Bacerdo Chicago, IL. : 9:03 PM ET
Not that it isn't a story worth telling....but how about telling the whole story...the larger story ? This issue is pandemic to our whole sensationalistic sex-hyped culture. How about a story about teachers and sex abuse ?....Coaches and sex buse ? ...This sad issue in other religions?... When will CNN be balanced enough to tell about Jewish rabbis and sex abuse ? Protestant clergmen and sex abuse? Sexual problems with Islamic clerics and their congregants ?... Once again, your anti-Catholic bias is showing. There are 57,000 Catholic priests in this country, 97% of whom are good, holy and faithful men of God. When will THAT story be told ?
Posted By Anonymous Jonathan of Simpson, PA : 9:18 PM ET
After watching the report last night, I came away having the utmost respect for Mr. Roberts. To come forward at this time of his life and career is incredibly brave. It was difficult watching and hearing him describe the actual abuse. His torment is still so obvious. But he's an amazing person.
I do have a question: What do you suppose it is about the priesthood that attracts these pedophiles? Because that's what they are. How many children's lives do you think could have been damaged by acts like these and why does the Church always seem to want to ignore this or downplay it. If the Vatican was serious about stopping these crimes and really punishing these priests, they have the power to do it.But they don't. I think society as a whole needs to reevaulate why we put so much faith in institutions like these, even after knowing the truth. What does that say about the power religion has over certain people? I think it's very unsettling. I was raised Catholic but I don't think I'd ever return to it. Too much hypocrisy. Religion was originally intended to be a way to control the masses and it still is today.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie Darby, Denham Springs, LA : 9:33 PM ET
Speaking as a gay man myself, I can assure everyone that when I was a youth questioning my sexuality, the last thing I would have wanted was the attention of a manipulative child abuser.

Child sex abusers zero in on those children who are most susceptible to their manipulative advances and that is usually children and youth from broken homes, those questioning their sexuality, or those who have no one else to confide in. Child sex abusers who hold powerful positions over children, use their power to get what they want through psychological manipulation.

No one should ever blame the victim of this crime, and that is what it is...a crime.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 10:01 PM ET
Your anti-Catholic bias is GLOWING throughout this report. I doubt you will post my comment! When will CNN tell the complete sex abuse story? Where is the balance? How about Protestant clergmen, Jewish Rabbis,politicians and families affected by sex abuse? I will stop viewing your station because of your bias! I was sexually abused as a child, from a member of my own family, and I KNOW there is far more sexual abuse going on in other venues; stop hitting on the Catholic Church, and get a life! We need honest, unbiased journalism, and cut out the sensationalism! How about a sexual abuse story on Islamic clerics, Jewish rabbis, politicians etc. Do you have the guts to broadcast these stories in the same manner as you are crucifing the Catholic Church? Once you begin broadcasting unbiased journalism, I will gladly view your broadcasts, until then you are cut out of my life!
Posted By Anonymous Theresa, Tehachapi, CA : 11:02 PM ET
I was so excited for this report a week in advance but couldn�t understand why. I suppose I likened the story to that same vein of drama that Law & Order embodies. After watching �Sin of the Father,� however, I felt disgusted with my own eagerness. Thomas Roberts� story was not at all fictional and that is what I needed to discern from this. When AC360 was over and I turned off the television I was still crying. I cannot adequately put into words how disgusted I am with Father Toohey and everyone who rallied behind him. Likewise, it�d take a lifetime for me to explain why Roberts� story was so important to hear and how grateful I am that he told it.
Posted By Anonymous Kayli, Tulsa OK : 11:11 PM ET
I saw this comment on the blog and felt the urge to respond:

While I am certainly no apologist for the priest's indefensible behavior, it is incomprehensible to me that boys 17 and older, and quite intelligent, would not speak out earlier if the priest's conduct was as offensive to them then as they now describe it. As a result, it makes Thomas and the other gentleman less than ideal spokespersons, and I suspect that, in part, may be the reason the legislation that they supported before the Maryland legislature was not passed.

Posted By Robert Cole Braxton, Petersburg, VA : 7:57 PM ET

While it may be hard to understand, this abuse went on for many years, before they were 17. I would think, especially for Thomas, after seeing what happened to Michael, to not come forward.

Thomas and Michael went through something very few of us can understand and in their minds, it was better for them to keep it quite.

I too don't understand how legislators can look past what happened to them and go on. This is not just 2 isolated cases; this is growing and growing. Something needs to happen to protect these children. Obviously, the Catholic Church is having difficulty dealing with this proble. When they got abused as a child, who can they go to that would believe them?

Both said that the community rallied around the Father, so how would they feel comfortable? They didn't have a voice as children being abused, it would take them a long time to feel that they had one.

We all need to see that there is a problem and need to do anything we can to help solve it. I myself am not Catholic, but everyone on my father's side is and I just think it will take outside influence to make the necessary changes to PROTECT the children
Posted By Anonymous Matt, Lansing Michigan : 11:12 PM ET
Does Tom Roberts feel he is now gay because of what the priest did to him? Or, without the abuse does he feel he may have been predisposed towards homosexuality?
Posted By Anonymous Jerry Forman, Berkeley, CA : 11:55 PM ET
It's an absolute joke for any one to defend this cahtholic priest. The judge who handed down the sentence must be investigated. The Catholic is a joke in this matter.
Posted By Anonymous Nick White Atlanta : 11:57 PM ET
I was just watching CNN (Tuesday, March 13, 2007, 7:45 pm Union City, CA) I apologize for not knowing the show or the gentlemen's name, but title of the segment was "Sin of the Father" and this was the web address I grabbed.

My questions comes from his statement that he didn't think his family would support him if he told the he'd been abused. I'd like to know what made him think that, I am a grandmother of twin girls and we, (myself and their parents)are educating them about appropriate touching, but I'd like to know what would make a child think that he wouldn't be taken seriously in this kind of situation. I so much appreciate the courage it takes to openly discuss this....
Posted By Anonymous Janet Glace, Union City, CA : 11:59 PM ET
Until I retired, I was a therapist who worked with children who had been abused and/or neglected. Thomas is a real hero who hopefully opened the eyes of people to the needs of victims and the effects that perpetrators have. Thank you so much for such honest and helpful information.
Posted By Anonymous Mary in Memphis, TN : 12:06 AM ET
Thanks Thomas for speaking up on Anderson Cooper's show. I can't believe some of these comments. They want to blame the victim. How sad. How sad.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Middletown, Oh : 12:08 AM ET
I just watched the interview with Thoms Roberts, and I have to say that CNN hit a low with me tonight. What possessed you to read that question from that moronic woman who wanted to know why he kept going to Tooey's house?????? She says she's a victim herself, so HOW could she even THINK to ask that question. She's obviously profoundly deranged. He was 14 years old! He tried to commit suicide over it-what more do you think you need to know??? How dare she even begin to imply that he contributed to this at all. But let's be fair: do you think this woman instigated her own abuse? It's like asking a rape victim if she was dressed in a provocative way prior to being raped. You know, I can tolerate ignorance, but not blatant insensitivity and stupidity.
This Tooey guy deserves to rot in Hell along with all the other molesters and rapists. But the fact that CNN chose to read this ridiculous question will probably give it credibility in some people's minds and I think it could prove counterproductive. I get the whole "360" thing, but this was an angle best left out of it. Mr. Roberts handled it excellently.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie Darby, Denham Springs, LA : 12:25 AM ET
Dear Anderson,
Your interview with Thomas Roberts is one of the finest works that I have seen on CNN. Your questions and your interview with Thomas were honest and forthwright without being sensationalistic. To Thomas I say thank you for being brave and sharing a heart wrenching story. Society always rushes to protect the adult who is abusing his/her power, but it is the child that we must learn to protect first and foremost.
Posted By Anonymous Linda Stormes, New York, NY : 12:26 AM ET
I truly enjoyed the show. I commend and thank Thomas for his courage in telling us his story. I'm sure it took a great deal of strength but I'm sure your strength has helped others who have had to suffer the same experience.

I can't believe some of the comments here! One suggests sensationalism! Another wonders why tell the story now after so many years! It must be difficult to live with such a lack of compassion and understanding for others who have had to live through such pain.

Two old cliches comes to mind as I read these cold comments, "Walk a mile in my shoes." and "Not everything is always as it seems." The last I feel a good description of the Catholic Church.
Posted By Anonymous Pat M. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada : 12:40 AM ET
Thomas Roberts, thank you for appearing with Anderson Tuesday night. You are one of the most articulate men I know. Each time you share your story you get stronger and more support. You get a piece of your selfworth back. Here's a pat on the back for you!
Posted By Anonymous Mary, Elizabethtown, KY : 12:49 AM ET
To all who watched AC360 tonight,regarding the "Suzannes" of the world who dare to ask why Thomas Roberts kept going back: As a practicing clinical psychologist, I can tell you that most people on the outside looking in cannot begin to grasp the unspeakable power of the pedophile's pathology - the emotional seduction, the preying on a child's vulnerability, the paralysis of fear, turmoil & confusion, the private hell of a trapped child's isolation and shame, who sees no way out and feels there is nowhere to turn. Thomas Roberts was a vulnerable, powerless child in tremendous pain - this pedophile groomed that relationship & fostered an emotional dependency to build an emotional steel trap, well before the sexual abuse began. To suggest that a victimized child could exercise free will to enact a simple solution ("just don't go back") to the excruciatingly painful and deep-seated complexities of an abusive relationship like this one grossly underestimates the nature and extent of the abuser's power. Thomas Roberts was emotionally trapped (as well as physically and sexually) and a victimized child cannot apply a logical, rational adult solution under those heinous circumstances. It is NEVER the child's fault for "going back" & it is ALWAYS the responsibility of the adult offender who perpetrates the abuse on every level.
Thomas Roberts had his entire adolescence stolen from him through no fault of his own; his life was not about applying rational solutions to the irrational chaos of abuse, it was about a child trying to survive a living hell. Until the public is educated about the dynamics of abuse of power, there will always be the "suzannes" who question the child's motives, instead of expressing rightful outrage at the adult's role in seducing the child back time and time again.
I APPLAUD Anderson Cooper & Thomas Roberts for the unfathomable courage it has taken to tell this story, up front and out loud (where it should be told), to the American public. In so doing, both of you have given a voice to countless silent others, to face it, to feel it, to survive, to be fully alive. Both of you are true heroes in my eyes, and many, many of us thank you for it.
Posted By Anonymous Michele, Miami Beach, FL : 1:08 AM ET
To Thomas Roberts, never before have I commented in response to anything aired on national telvision, but am strongly compelled to do just that, after absorbing your long dilema seen on CNN last night. I highly commend you for your courage to face fear, and become victorious, rather than harbor the past horrors indefinitely. Facing fears head on in life removes barriers of pain later on. Please continue your fight in judicial forums in ways that you can, for you will help others become more aware of such injustices. Human beings like you create public awareness for the good of others not so fortunate. I was raised a devout, conservative Catholic in the 1960's, before the "modernization" of the church transpired in 1963. Though not a victim of any priest, I was verbally and physically abused before I was 10 years old, most likely from a family member, and again before 21 years old. Sadly, and to this day, the exact details, and WHO did this are locked away deep inside me, now all relatives are dead. This has haunted me all my life, and damaged my life in countless ways. And now i'm in my late 50's. But know that I also truly relate to all your emotions....
Posted By Anonymous Rick Tyler, Los Angeles, California : 1:27 AM ET
People should not be questioning Thomas Roberts' abuse. Children who are abused obviously live in fear and shame. The Catholic Church has proven time and time again to think it is above the law. I am glad that Thomas now has a good life and he proves that faith first lies within yourself. Just looking at his eyes during the program last night was painful and I indeed shed tears. It is our responsibility to support and care for children and not turn against them. The laws must be changed and people have to keep fighting in order to bring change. There was no justice served in these cases and obviously the system supported the abuser not the abused.
Walk proud Thomas, for the man you have become is wonderful.
Good luck to you.
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada : 2:01 AM ET
I thought Thomas did a tremendous job handling that question about why he didn't speak out - it makes me sick to hear people blame the child and the family, etc because it apparently makes them feel too vulnerable to empathize with the situation. Blaming the child does nothing to help the situation because the child is not the one who's the problem in this scenario - it's the sicko perverts who prey on our innocent children and get away with little more than some light jail time.

The punishment for child molestation ought to be life without possibility of parole - not because of who they are or because their urges are incurable but because it is a terrible, terrible crime!
Posted By Anonymous Erika, Toronto : 2:08 AM ET
Anyone who would ask why he would tell his story now, or why couldn't he protect himself?, or how come parents don't talk about inappropriate touch with their children? has never experienced sexual abuse. The child is a victim who is so overwhelmed with what is happening and who is told to respect his/her elder and does not feel that they have any way out. They are scared and often threatened to a degree that the child does not trust anyone and truly believes that the threat will be followed through with. It is not as easy as these questions ask and unless you have experienced it yourself, you would not understand. You may be able to empathize but you cannot fully understand. I applaud him for his courage and persistence to help others who have been victims to this horrible crime that affects so many.
Posted By Anonymous Susan, Peoria, AZ : 2:32 AM ET
Mr. Roberts was very courageous to come forth and tell his story. I was deeply moved by it. I can barely imagine how hard it must have been for him. I know his story will have a very positive impact on many people. CNN and Mr. Roberts deserve kudos for their responsible reporting of this story.
Posted By Anonymous Brad Morse, North Bend, Oregon : 2:54 AM ET
I was just watching Mr. Roberts speak with Anderson on 360 and talking about the "Suzanne's" of this world. I could feel the power in Mr. Robert's voice and how upset it makes him feel and I want to say that I too want to "SCREAM at the "Suzanne's of the world"

I am a pastor's kid and am a fraternal twin. My sister and I were both sexually abused by a man in our Methodist church for 3 years. We were 6-9 years of age. He asked my parents if he could take "the twins for ice cream" after church on Sundays. Needless to say, we never had ice cream. I too struggle with churches, not only the Catholic church, and their approaches to children of sexual abuse. To me, it is similar to the "don't ask, don't tell" mentality of the military. Please don't bother us with any of your problems because that is a dirty place that we don't know how or want to deal with. I too have not lost my faith.

My sister and I have been in therapy for many years. We have both had very difficult marriages and have worked very hard to overcome what we were victims of. Remember, the victim does not choose the perpetrator, the perpetrator chooses his/her victims. Male/female, young/old anyone who decides that they are going to take control over another person's physical being and violate that, is a criminal. It has nothing to do with the person, enjoying it, or asking for it, or not understanding their own sexuality.

Please do not continue to look at the victims in this and think that it is their fault in anyway! The abuser is ill and needs help.. that is the fact. Most believe that the abuser cannot truly ever recover and needs to be kept away from any tempting situation.

Mr. Roberts was 14, his parents were divorcing, he was in turmoil and he was taken advantage of in a time of weakness, when he was most vulnerable. Don't try to understand him, he didn't commit the crime!
Posted By Anonymous Susan, Peoria, AZ : 2:59 AM ET
Mr Roberts, I watched "Sins of the Father" last night and your interview with Anderson Copper tonite and felt compelled to write. You are a very brave man- thank you for telling your story to us. I was glad to hear you have not lost your faith as it appears to me that God has a very special and important plan for your life as an advocate and survivor of sexual abuse.
You gave hope and empowerment to thousands of victims tonite. Thanks for sharing your story.
Posted By Anonymous Jeri W, Dickinson, ND : 3:05 AM ET
I am sorry to put this so bluntly, but I cannot cast Mr. Roberts as a wholly unwilling victim in this case. Young people in their early teens are sexual beings, and the fact that they can be sexually exploited by adults does not negate the possibility that they might feel desire for those same adults. When I was eighteen I went to a party one night and a thirteen-year-old boy sat on my lap and sang 'Tainted Love' into my ear--CLEARLY he was trying to seduce me and CLEARLY he knew just what he was doing. I've never been attracted to young guys, so I told him to stop. But the occasion was instructive--at least to me. Was the young Mr. Roberts exploited by that adult priest? No doubt. But the fact that Mr. Roberts kept returning, year after year, to the scene of exploitation tells me that he derived some degree of satisfaction from these encounters.
Posted By Anonymous Alan, New York City, NY : 3:12 AM ET
Quite a story, and hooray for Thomas Roberts for having what it takes to come out about something so personally damaging. I know whereof he speaks; I'm a 67-year old Navy retiree now, and between the ages of 8 and 10 went through a similar experience with a guy in our little village in northern New Jersey, a well-known local and war veteran. And Thomas is right: once you commit, you are from then on, different; an outsider. What you did makes you different from every other person. It's like you are now on the outside of a transparent wall; you can see other people, but no longer have the right to interact with them. You have done something unspeakable and un forgivable. Good for Thomas that he had great family support to help him on his trip toward recovery; rarely is that the case. Preditors, such as Toohey, look for the needy kids, those who are unloved and uncared for. The throw-away kids, the easy marks against whom these felons can practice their depravity without fear. I know that I wasn't the only victim of my guy back in the 1940's, but I have not been able to find any evidence that he was caught. If so, that's too bad. But Toohey got his (not nearly enough, I agree), and thanks to the coming forward of Thomas, and Michael Goles, and so many others, hopefully laws will be changed, and more of these criminals will see the jail time they so richly deserve.
Posted By Anonymous Jim Langan, Lakewood, WA : 3:23 AM ET
I was deeply struck by Mr. Roberts statement that he was "his own twin". I know of what he speaks having been molested by a foster brother for three years, beginning at the age of nine. I often referred to myself by another name. Everyone just thought I was being weird. In fact, it was the tool I used to survive those years until I could get out of that house of torture.

I soon will be 62. It took me nearly 40 years to come to grips with what happened to me those many years ago. Even today, I sometimes become resentful because that person stole from me the opportunity for me to decide who I would become as a person. The rape played a role in every relationship, every decision I made in life. And even today, it is part of my daily life. I sure do understand Mr. Robert's hesitancy to ever talk about his experience.

Unlike Mr.Roberts I had many wonderful Catholic priests in my life as a teen. They were the ultimate role models for me when I found myself living alone as teen and attending high school. I think we have to keep in mind that molestation of children takes place in many life situations and not just in the Catholic Church.

I think that we need desperately as a nation to confront this crime against children and bring it out of the closet. The statistics say that we must open up a national dialogue. Possibly Mr. Roberts will see fit to do even more now that he has revealed the terrible secret.
Posted By Anonymous Clay Wood, Schroon Lake, NY : 3:59 AM ET
The crime was committed when Thomas was a minor and it still counts as a crime.

If Thomas needs a petition signed from supporters in his fight to have his bills passed in order to have Maryland's State statue of limitation changed, I am in for it. Something needs to be done.
Posted By Anonymous Ratna, New York, NY : 5:43 AM ET
Thank you to Thomas for sharing his moving, poignant story and for being willing to open up about being abused. I have admiration for his courage, but also am saddened that the lingering effects of his parents' divorce and the abuse have manifested in Thomas believing himself to be gay. I pray that someday Thomas will realize that believing he is gay is only continuing to give power to the priest who abused him. This priest severely misrepresented God to Thomas. There is a loving Heavenly Father who wants to fully heal Thomas from all the pain from his past. I pray that Thomas receives a full healing from God from all the hurt and shame he has experienced.
Posted By Anonymous Sam, Milwaukee, WI : 8:39 AM ET
Must you constantly kick Christianity (specifically Catholicism ) every Easter season?
Posted By Anonymous Joe Mess B'More : 10:17 AM ET
It is uncomprehensible to me how anyone can blame a child for the actions of a pedophile! Do people think that this priest lured Mr. Roberts into a room and jumped his bones immediately upon entering? Child molestation by someone that is known to the child is something that is insidious and subtle at the beginning. The child is lured into a sense of well being, with just tiny things at first that he may find not quite right, but this may be the only person in this child's life who finds him of any value. These molesters are very skilled at finding the child with low self esteem, or family issues, or the needy child. By the time it becomes full blown molestation, the child is firmly convinced it is their fault, and even if they were to tell, they would not be believed. After all, how many children are molested by their "father, step father, grandfather, uncle, family friend", and when they do tell someone, are told, that wonderful man could never do such a thing! Unless you have someone else to back you up, you are not believed! Face it, 20 years ago, before all of these church scandals erupted, how many of you would believe that your priest could molest little boys? And, if you think that a 14 year old boy is mature enough to understand how he was being set up for this, or to stop it, then obviously you don't know many 14 year old boys. As much as they would like you to believe they are grown up, it's not even close. Come on people, get a clue, maybe read up on child molesters, it could be your child that could be next, no matter how well you try to protect them, as these monsters are that good.
Posted By Anonymous Monique Mellon, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada : 10:17 AM ET
I have so much respect for Thomas Roberts. This must have been extremely hard for him, but he is doing more good than he will possibly ever know. His response last night to the lady that asked why he didn't run away was the best explanation that I have ever heard for victims staying in an abusive relationship. If the laws, churches and society were doing what they should to protect innocent lives, victims would not be so terrified to come forward.

I commend you Thomas Roberts - you are so brave and inspirational. Thank you for telling your story and thank you Anderson Cooper for one of the best pieces I've seen on your show or any other. God bless.
Posted By Anonymous Erin, Atlanta GA : 10:25 AM ET
I commend Thomas Roberts for telling his story. The viewers who question him now highlight the difficulty for victims to come forward. If you did not grow up in a catholic family that went to church, and were raised to beleive that Priests were infallible men of the church, it is hard to understand the power they had in the family and community. If this had happened to me, i can't imagine going to my parents or friends at a young age. I feel sorry for Thomas Roberts parents, the trust they gave to the Priest to watch over thier son, to be betrayed in such a terrible way must be overwhelming. I hope this story helps a lot of people.
Posted By Anonymous Ellen Martin, Phoenix Arizona : 10:35 AM ET
As a survior of abuse, I can understand and feel his pain as well as draw strength from his story. As a child or as a person who is emotional imature it is hard to deal with abuse adn it is eveh harder to walk away. I told my abuser that if he ever came near me again I would cut him. Lets say that did not stop him from copping a feel when ever he could or making comments that were off color.
Posted By Anonymous Dee Quitman, Ga : 10:59 AM ET
Wow! What a great report as usual by Anderon! But my heart goes out to Thomas. What a brave person. Please relay to him how insperational he is to so many people.
Posted By Anonymous Jane, Cookeville, TN : 11:06 AM ET
Consider that these lawsuit settlements are in the million and billions of dollars. At the same time the Catholic church has missionaries, charities, and parishes around the United States and world where they are begging for money to provide food and shelter for the indigent. It is offensive as a catholic to see millions of dollars paid out to people who deserve justice, at the same time the offering plate is passed in mass.

Just a thought
Tell the survivors to hang tough.
Posted By Anonymous Kate, hebron, ky : 11:27 AM ET
A behind the scenes look at "Anderson Cooper 360°" and the stories it covers, written by Anderson Cooper and the show's correspondents and producers.

• 01/29/2006 - 02/05/2006
• 02/05/2006 - 02/12/2006
• 02/12/2006 - 02/19/2006
• 02/19/2006 - 02/26/2006
• 02/26/2006 - 03/05/2006
• 03/05/2006 - 03/12/2006
• 03/12/2006 - 03/19/2006
• 03/19/2006 - 03/26/2006
• 03/26/2006 - 04/02/2006
• 04/02/2006 - 04/09/2006
• 04/09/2006 - 04/16/2006
• 04/16/2006 - 04/23/2006
• 04/23/2006 - 04/30/2006
• 04/30/2006 - 05/07/2006
• 05/07/2006 - 05/14/2006
• 05/14/2006 - 05/21/2006
• 05/21/2006 - 05/28/2006
• 05/28/2006 - 06/04/2006
• 06/04/2006 - 06/11/2006
• 06/11/2006 - 06/18/2006
• 06/18/2006 - 06/25/2006
• 06/25/2006 - 07/02/2006
• 07/02/2006 - 07/09/2006
• 07/09/2006 - 07/16/2006
• 07/16/2006 - 07/23/2006
• 07/23/2006 - 07/30/2006
• 07/30/2006 - 08/06/2006
• 08/06/2006 - 08/13/2006
• 08/13/2006 - 08/20/2006
• 08/20/2006 - 08/27/2006
• 08/27/2006 - 09/03/2006
• 09/03/2006 - 09/10/2006
• 09/10/2006 - 09/17/2006
• 09/17/2006 - 09/24/2006
• 09/24/2006 - 10/01/2006
• 10/01/2006 - 10/08/2006
• 10/08/2006 - 10/15/2006
• 10/15/2006 - 10/22/2006
• 10/22/2006 - 10/29/2006
• 10/29/2006 - 11/05/2006
• 11/05/2006 - 11/12/2006
• 11/12/2006 - 11/19/2006
• 11/19/2006 - 11/26/2006
• 11/26/2006 - 12/03/2006
• 12/03/2006 - 12/10/2006
• 12/10/2006 - 12/17/2006
• 12/17/2006 - 12/24/2006
• 12/24/2006 - 12/31/2006
• 12/31/2006 - 01/07/2007
• 01/07/2007 - 01/14/2007
• 01/14/2007 - 01/21/2007
• 01/21/2007 - 01/28/2007
• 01/28/2007 - 02/04/2007
• 02/04/2007 - 02/11/2007
• 02/11/2007 - 02/18/2007
• 02/18/2007 - 02/25/2007
• 02/25/2007 - 03/04/2007
• 03/04/2007 - 03/11/2007
• 03/11/2007 - 03/18/2007
• 03/18/2007 - 03/25/2007
• 03/25/2007 - 04/01/2007
• 04/01/2007 - 04/08/2007
• 04/08/2007 - 04/15/2007
• 04/15/2007 - 04/22/2007
• 04/22/2007 - 04/29/2007
• 04/29/2007 - 05/06/2007
• 05/06/2007 - 05/13/2007
• 05/13/2007 - 05/20/2007
• 05/20/2007 - 05/27/2007
• 05/27/2007 - 06/03/2007
• 06/03/2007 - 06/10/2007
• 06/10/2007 - 06/17/2007
• 06/17/2007 - 06/24/2007
• 06/24/2007 - 07/01/2007
• 07/01/2007 - 07/08/2007
• 07/08/2007 - 07/15/2007
• 07/15/2007 - 07/22/2007
• 07/22/2007 - 07/29/2007
• 07/29/2007 - 08/05/2007
• 08/05/2007 - 08/12/2007
• 08/12/2007 - 08/19/2007
• 08/19/2007 - 08/26/2007
• 08/26/2007 - 09/02/2007
• 09/02/2007 - 09/09/2007
• 09/09/2007 - 09/16/2007
• 09/16/2007 - 09/23/2007
• 09/23/2007 - 09/30/2007
• 09/30/2007 - 10/07/2007
• 10/07/2007 - 10/14/2007
• 10/14/2007 - 10/21/2007
• 10/21/2007 - 10/28/2007
• 10/28/2007 - 11/04/2007
• 11/04/2007 - 11/11/2007
• 11/11/2007 - 11/18/2007
• 11/18/2007 - 11/25/2007
• 11/25/2007 - 12/02/2007
• 12/02/2007 - 12/09/2007
• 12/09/2007 - 12/16/2007
• 12/16/2007 - 12/23/2007
• 12/23/2007 - 12/30/2007
• 12/30/2007 - 01/06/2008

    What's this?
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.