This is my sworn testimony before the Ohio House Judiciary Hearing on November 22, 2005 to support Ohio SB-17, dealing with changing the statute of limitations and opening the one year look back for all victims of clergy sexual, regardless of denomination. I had to tell the story in this format so as to combat the flood of tears and to be understandable to the committee. It was the first time I told this story in a public arena. I pray that it heals and gives you strength, hope and courage to tell your story someday so that all of us can learn and benefit.
First allow me to sincerely thank you, Mr. Chairman and all of Judiciary Hearing Committee, ladies and gentleman, distinguished colleagues, survivors and all of your families for allowing others, including myself to speak before you today.
If you will, allow me to take you back in time. The year is 1969 and it’s a gorgeous summer day. The am radio is propped up in the window of the back screen porch belting out some of the current top hit tunes:
Aquarius Fifth Dimension
Sugar, Sugar Archies
I Can’t get Next To You Temptations
Honky Tonk Woman Rolling Stones
Build Me Up Buttercup Foundations
Dizzy Tommy Roe
Hot Fun In The Summertime Sly & the Family Stone
Everyday People Sly & the Family Stone
Get Together Youngbloods
One Three Dog Night
Crystal Blue Persuasion Tommy James & the Shondells
Crimson & Clover Tommy James & the Shondells
I’ll Never Fall In Love Again Tom Jones
Get Back Beatles
In the Ghetto Elvis Presley
Hurt So Bad The Letterman
These Eyes The Guess Who
This was supposed to be the summer of love. This summer was going to be unforgettable.
Donald, 13 years old, was bouncing a tennis ball against the side of a garage playing catch by himself because his big brothers and sister were out doing other things. But that’s ok - this was a kid who had not only the whole yard but the world to himself. It was a time for innocence. This was the summer of his youth. The words to the Archie’s song “Sugar, Sugar” drifted from the back screen porch. This was the summer of his innocence. Sadly, it was to be the last.
Donald had his first crush that summer too. Her name was Kim. Kim thought Donald was cute. She liked to go for walks. They’d hold hands, talk and listen to each other. Donald liked holding hands with Kim - and vice versa. Holding hands! Remember how scary and special that felt all at the same time?
They haven’t kissed yet but maybe, just maybe they will this summer.
The local priest gets out of the car, yells to Donald in the back and waves as he approaches the front steps and rings the doorbell. Donald waves back and smiles. This is the priest that helps with CYO, the local Catholic Youth Organization at the nearby parish where him, his brother Mike and all of his friends, play basketball. He is a priest, friend, mentor, chaperone and Shepard that graces this family with his presence at numerous meals and watches the Bears football on Sundays with Donald’s Dad, John. His name is Father Ted Feely.
Soon Donald’s Mother calls out the back door for him to come inside. When he gets inside his Mother and Father Ted are sharing a cup of coffee. She tells him,
“Father Ted has stopped by to see if you would be interested in going to the Wisconsin Dells for a week?” Donald cannot believe his ears – Wisconsin Dells? That was like the Disneyland of the Midwest at that time. The answer took all of a microsecond and it was a resounding “Yes”! His mother stated that it would be ok as long as it wasn’t a financial burden on Father Ted who had insisted that all expenses be covered by him.
The next day Father Ted arrived early to pick up Donald and headed off for the long drive to the Dells. Just before Donald left, his Mother hugged and kissed him. She whispered in Donald’s ear, “You make sure this lasts the whole week, be good and I love you” slipping him a $20 bill. She also told him to listen to Father Ted and to obey him. He assured her that he would indeed make it last and that he would listen to Father Ted. Obey him? When didn’t Donald or Mike obey Father? They always did. This was the first and longest time that Donald was to be away from his Mother. Up to this point, it was the most money he had ever been entrusted with. Bread was twenty cents a loaf, gas was thirty cents per gallon and a new car cost $2,000. For a family of seven, this was an obscene amount of money.
On the five hour ride up to the Dells, Father asked Donald lots of questions, about his friends, brothers, school, sports and life. He also spoke to him about entering the priesthood and what a fine priest he would make. Donald told him he already had aspirations of becoming a priest because his cousin, Father Russell was a priest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Father Russell had spoken to Donald many times about the priesthood and had planted that seed years ago. Father Russell was a true friend and knew Donald would be a good leader and Shepard.
Donald noticed Father Ted chain smoked Camels, one right after another. Father Ted offered him a cigarette and he refused telling him that he had asthma since he was two years old. Donald just rolled down the window and let the fresh air in to help eliminate the smoke in the car. Father Ted swore as he spoke. Donald had never heard him speak this way before. He said words like “shit”, “fuck” and even a few “God Damns” when people cut him off on the highway. Donald knew that was the ultimate sin – a mortal sin – taking God’s name in vain. He told Donald that it was alright for him to swear when they were together and that it would be “their secret”. Again, he asked Donald if he wanted to try a smoke. He refused a second time and told Father “No, thanks”.
The first thing they did was have lunch upon arriving in downtown Wisconsin Dells. It was relaxed and Father told “dirty jokes” over lunch at the diner across the street from their hotel, the Top Hat. Donald found this kind of strange because Father had never done this before in front of his parents over Sunday dinners. Donald thought Father Ted was acting like “one of the guys” when he and his buddies would go to the local hamburger stand and tell stories and laugh the afternoon away, while meeting other friends.
After lunch, Father Ted told Donald that he needed to take his daily nap. He informed Donald that if he didn’t get his afternoon rest, he would get “mean”.
The priest told Donald he could explore all of downtown if he so desired. He also informed him not to “talk to any strangers.” Donald laughed and told Father Ted he knew all about not talking to strangers – and running the other way. They parted and as Donald looked down the street there were antique shops, curio and souvenir shops, novelties and the local drug store and of course, pinball arcades! It was the biggest, coolest arcade he had ever seen. Father Ted had given him $40 with no instructions other than to “enjoy himself” and return in time for dinner. Wow - $40!
John, Donald’s Dad, had prohibited him from foolishly wasting money on anything as ignorant as pinball. Father Ted knew this to be the case because John had expressed this to him in one of many of their Sunday after dinner chats. Donald walked into the arcade and gazed in awe at all the pinball machines the same way a compulsive gambler might search out the best slot machine at Bally’s in Vegas or Atlantic City. He saw on every machine “three games for a quarter” and thought to himself I have died and gone to pinball heaven. Donald quietly played pinball with other teenagers and by himself for over four hours without so much as stopping to go to the bathroom. He thought to himself that it was alright to talk to kids his own age - they weren’t “strangers.” He also thought to himself that everything was truly right in the world – his world, this world.
Four hours later and exactly $40 lighter (he knew better than to spend any of his $20 on pinball), he walked into the Top Hat motel. He asked the clerk as to which room Father Ted was in and the clerk replied, “Your Dad is on the second floor in room 210.” Donald chuckled to himself that Father Ted had probably told the clerk that he was his son. Why would he do such a thing? As he approached the room the door was slightly ajar, television blaring and knocked hard on the door. Father Ted yelled for him to enter and as to why in the “fuck” he was knocking on the door. He walked in the room and it was a large television viewing area, small table for eating, refrigerator, etc. Donald continued walking straight ahead and noticed the large king size bed and bathroom. “Hey – Father, where am I supposed to sleep?” he asked. Father Ted told him he was sleeping right there in the bed. Donald asked as to where Father was sleeping. He pointed at the bed and stated, “Right there.” He explained that one big bed was cheaper than two bedrooms and Donald never gave it another thought.
The rest of the night Father Ted took Donald on amusement rides, horseback riding, eating all the wrong things, cotton candy, Cokes, burgers and elephant ears. They laughed and had a good time. Father Ted even convinced Donald to try one of his Camel cigarettes but it was alright because it was “their secret.” The world was abuzz for Donald in this playground of the Midwest. Before returning to the motel that night, Father Ted stopped at the liquor store and bought a fifth of Ballentine’s scotch and a six pack of Budweiser. Donald thought this was weird because Father didn’t like beer. He was strictly a scotch drinker and wine on Sunday masses. Getting back inside the room around 10:30 P.M. he sat down and poured himself a scotch on the rocks. He instructed Donald that the beer was his all his and he could have as many as he wanted. Again he told him that it was “their secret.” After the third of fourth beer, Donald stated he was going to bed and staggered right to the bedroom, put on his pajamas and went to bed. It had been an exceptional day being a grown up.
When Donald awoke at 2:00 A.M., it wasn’t because of an asthma attack. Father Ted already had him in a choke hold with his left arm, was deep inside of him and was masturbating him with his right hand. Donald fought for his life – he fought as hard as he possibly could. But Father Ted was stronger and just whispered in his ear, “Don’t worry – it’ll be over soon.” Donald cried, and cried and cried because it hurt so much. Where was Jesus now? Why would he allow this to happen to him? And for a moment, it was as if Donald was floating high above the bed looking down at this evil, sick embrace by this monster, this priest, this – stranger. He heard his Mom and Dad’s voice and Father Ted’s voice repeating, “Don’t talk to strangers, don’t ever talk to strangers.” After Father Ted came inside of Donald, he withdrew and whispered in his ear, “I knew you were different than the others, I could tell.” This was the summer of love, the summer of fun. Not anymore.
Donald immediately got out of bed when Father Ted relaxed his death grip on him and ran to the bathroom barely making it. A flood of feces, blood and semen rushed out of him. He thought, “Oh my God – I’m dying.” He then turned, dropped to his knees and vomited choking on some of it. He knew for sure he was dying. Donald washed himself with soap and a washcloth and exited the bathroom. He went straight to the living room and lay on the couch not understanding what had just happened. Father Ted never asked if he was alright. He just went back to sleep in his big, comfortable bed. Donald was far from being “alright”.
The next morning Donald was in the shower and rivulets of bright red blood were running down his leg, spinning down the drain. Father Ted opened the bathroom door. “Hey, do you need any help in there?” he asked. Donald looked up from shampooing his hair and saw a naked man – correction – a naked erect man through the clear shower curtain, standing in the doorway masturbating. He yelled, “Get the fuck out of here before I kill you!!” Father Ted replied, “Ok, Ok, I’m sorry – I’ll leave you alone.” But he didn’t. Father Ted continued stroking his erection in the doorway while watching Donald shower. When he was finished he moaned, wiped himself exited the doorway and closed the door. Donald thought to himself, “My God, my God – please don’t leave me.” Protect me – please.
Nothing was spoken between the two and there was a dead silence between them. At breakfast, Donald ordered eggs, bacon, toast and juice. Father Ted ordered oatmeal. Donald asked Father Ted why he didn’t order eggs. Father told him, “The egg whites remind me of cum.” Donald thought to himself, “Oh my God – that’s what must have come out of me last night.” Egg whites, semen, ejaculate sperm or as Father had eloquently put it “cum.” Donald really hated this person sitting across from him. He was evil. He was a monster.
After breakfast, Father Ted told Donald he was tired and was going back to the motel to rest. He then gave Donald $100. A hundred dollar bill - something he had never held before that moment. He told him to stop back to the motel just before evening dinner and unleashed him on the Wisconsin Dells once again.
Donald walked around the Dells and felt different than everyone else. He felt independent and alone all at the same time. He asked himself who could he call, who could he tell what happened less than eight hours ago alone in that room with the monster? The answer was nobody. He didn’t want anyone to know that this priest, this monster with his huge dick had raped him. Had in a sense - fucked him. Donald just knew that he had to stay as far away from Father Ted the entire week. Donald went to the arcade and played pinball all day long. He gave money to other kids. He didn’t want this money. Because it was his money,
The monster’s money.
The second night Donald stayed on the couch and refused to go in to the bedroom. He drank coffee and fought to stay awake to protect himself. He held a shoe in his hand just in case the monster came back. Donald eventually fell asleep with his head on the armrest and awoke to a creaking sound. It was the monster coming at him in the dark, naked with his huge, erect penis just inches from his face. Donald bolted upright and yelled, “Get the fuck away from me or I’ll kill you!!!” And you want to know something – he meant every word. Father Ted stated he was just “checking on him” and retreated back to his bedroom. Donald told himself that he must stay awake tonight and every night.
The next morning, another $100 another set of instructions when to return. This went on for five days until the return back to Rockford, Illinois. Rockford seemed so far away. Father Ted told Donald that what happened between them was their secret and that if he told his parents anything – it would destroy them. He also told Donald that it would destroy his family as he knew it to be. He also told him nobody would believe his story because everybody loved Father Ted, their local Shepard.
Upon returning home Donald’s Mother, Hilda asked him if he behaved himself and had a good time. He smiled and assured her he did indeed. It was good to be home away from the monster. Father Ted was gone for the moment but Donald was never ever safe again.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, how would you feel if some you trusted one hundred percent, unconditionally came in to your home and brutally raped and choked your son, daughter or grandchild and changed the course of their life forever? There has to be some recourse by which all survivors of sexual abuse can seek justice. I pray you will search deep in your hearts, your souls and make a just and fair decision on Ohio SB - 17. Donald the teenage boy thanks all of you and Donald’s wife Lorrie, who couldn’t make this journey – my wife, my partner, my soul mate and my best friend - thanks you from the bottom of her heart for listening to this story. The story from the summer of 1969.
Respectfully submitted today on behalf of the following:
Lorrie and our beautiful son Joe Bondick,
My sister Ann Field,
My brothers John, Mike (who was also attacked by Fr. Ted Feely), Tony and especially for my Father, John Stanley “Brown Eyes” Bondick,
Who never knew of my abuse and died June 22, 1997.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King, Jr.