Sunday, November 8, 2015

Danny's Story, Part Two: This Is What Happened When A Child Sexual Abuse Survivor Confronted the Franciscans: Yes, That's You, Former Superior General Brother William Boslet

This is Daniel's story, part two. It chronicles how he was treated by the Franciscans, including former St. Francis Prep teacher and Superior General William Boslet, when he confronted them about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Brother Joe Mussa. I am so proud of Danny for writing his story. He is one of the bravest people I know. He also knows that every time he writes, he helps someone else who has suffered. And that's the point, isn't it?                                      
"I don’t remember exactly how my relationship ended with mussa. There was no defining moment. It just ended, I was tired of being touched, I was embarrassed. I was sick of going to the movies only to be molested time after time after time in a dark room, mind you, full of people unaware of the crime being committed before them. At this point I was terrorized each and every time I got in the car with this man. That's where he would molest me all the time. The same pattern over and over and over. The rubbing on the kneecap then move on to the upper thigh, then force his way to undo my zipper and fondle my genitals. Only once did I wear a pair of shorts in his company after the abuse started. That was like a  field day for this pedophile. He would always make a comment on the long pants I was wearing, suggesting i was probably way too hot and should be wearing shorts. Imagine that, being a 12,13 year old boy who made wardrobe decisions  based on whether or not i was spending his day with a child molester. I would layer clothes with 2 pairs of underpants two jeans extra shorts over underpants over long pants. All my waking moments were consumed somehow with the sexual abuse I was enduring.   How to prevent it, how to avoid it and most importantly how to fucking stop it !! He knew I was becoming more and more defensive and I started to voice my uncomfortability with him and with what he was doing to me. After what had taken place that night we spent in that monastery on our way to the Baseball Hall Of Fame , I drew a line . And when that weekend was over, I started my retreat from mussa. The walls came up. After spending a weekend with a man who would not leave me alone, not just in a sexual way, but in a way that he would hover over me wanting to be sure that I was ok. His guilt making him paranoid because I was now reacting to what he was doing to me.  He knew damn well I was beginning to resent him more and more as time went by .                                                                                                                                 Back at my new neighborhood, I was being schooled on the streets and it was making me aware of what he was doing to me.  And what he was doing was not right . And I was beginning to see some of the bad effects  it had in my young life. It was destroying my social skills, my school grades, my home life everything had been affected by it. It had a huge snowball effect, problems grew larger and larger to the point where I was totally isolated,  which was, in fact, exactly the position that mussa wanted me to be in. From that afternoon in his classroom when  Michelle and I decorated his bulletin board he had seen in me the potential of being a target for his abuse. What motivated him I don't know and I don't care!! What I was learning from the streets at that time was that mussa was doing to me is a crime , and my last visits from him , however they faded out, he felt me resisting more adamantly and standing my ground. I stopped answering his letters and his phone calls. And as hard as it is to admit, it really was painful to have to do it. It's so hard to explain all of emotions that I had to deal with . How one emotion would contradict another. I felt guilty all while feeling angry. I was relieved but at the same time burdened.         
Since mussa wasn't getting what he wanted he finally left me alone and  moved on.  He got the message . The phone calls stopped , no more letters in the mail. Mussa went on to live his life as a prince of the church. Setting himself up as the perfect pedophile would. Teaching high school students. Working the boys locker rooms like a sick pervert that he is. Coaching several high school hockey teams and and i'm sure whatever else he could do in the shadow of Catholic education, to gain access to the boys he was entrusted to care for. He moved on to his next victims.  What mussa left in the wake of our  relationship was a damaged young man. I was traumatized by our friendship. the most eventful thing so far in my short life, being his buddy, was a lie. This man tricked and manipulated and painted me into a corner having me believe I had no way out. My emotions were shattered. The  person who I met that was suppose to be an important role model and authority in my life at the time, to take me under his wing and  treat me in a way like I was his own son. Raising me up above everyone else. Isolating me. Then abuse me for as long as he could get away with it then toss me aside like the morning's trash.I cannot begin to tell you what that dose to a 13 year old boy’s self esteem his feelings and his outlook on life.                                                                
I was emotionally crippled and extremely angry with it all being masked by a false sense of self. I literally changed into someone else in order to protect the little boy that I still was inside my head. Some if the behaviors I conditioned in myself have become a liability over the years. I blame mussa for causing the end of my childhood and directly putting me on a road to self destruction, self loathing self hate and self medication, I blame the friars as well for they could have helped me many years ago when i went to them for help, The help they were offering me was not the help I was looking for. It's not like I wanted to go to the Betty Ford clinic, I asked Brother Grady to send me to a rehab. I did not want to be around the friars. I had good reason to not want to be around them . My experiences with them have been nothing but bad. I was told I had to take what they were offering me. Like I was going to them as a beggar, them seemingly having the authority over my life and any decisions. Their way or the highway. They did nothing of what I was looking for. The main thing was to have mussa admit what he had done to me and apologize to me. I  AM CONVINCED THAT THEY ARE COMPLETELY AWARE OF WHAT THAT MAN WAS UP TO.. And they decided for the good of the church they were going to keep it quiet, no concern for well being of any of his victims . Even as far back in grammar school . Someone somewhere had to have come to the conclusion that there was trouble in my life. They found it necessary to have a counselor come to my school and remove me from class and pry into my personal life and dig around for something that was the cause and effect of my behavior, Mind you all the while without my parents knowledge let alone their permission. That leads me to believe that they were suspicious  of them being the cause and effect of my troubles, but they were never contacted or were confronted by anyone about anything. It wasn't until I was in my forties that I told my parents about these unauthorized therapy sessions and it was a complete surprise to them and it made them very angry that they did this to me and without their permission or consent. I do remember that when I told this nun about my ongoing relationship with mussa she became very attentive and inquisitive about it. She was prying so much that I remembered that I thought I was getting him in trouble. I wonder what conclusion that that nun arrived to and who she discussed that situation with. Was there a report , a meeting that discussed me? Or did they just sweep it under the rug and look the other way so they could protect the distorted ancient lifestyle and all the riches that are attached to it for the better of the church. That right there is what has motivated me over the years to keep pressing the issue. I did manage in 2001 to report mussa to the Brooklyn DA, where at that point he was removed from teaching and interactions with kids. I just couldn't believe this man was still teaching kids.The man is a fraud -  he is in it for the boys, the young men he can hunt and take advantage of their weakness and find a vulnerable boy to help as if he is a good man when in fact he is a man who’s only intention is to molest and control them.                                          
Now at almost 50 years old I'm way too exhausted from the tremendous job it is to keep on trying to get through life with all its shortcomings that at times get the best of me, and if mussa and all of his supporters want to still deny me my healing and closure on this matter then I have no other choice than to approach it this way in a no holds barred meat and potatoes way, what he did to me  and what it did to my life. As well as my dealing with the friars. They rejected me and treated me like I was some rotten person who is just out to harm this good man’s reputation. Yea that makes sense. A man who was at once a great friend to me , who bought me all sorts of things and took me to many places , I am so very grateful to him that i want to destroy his life. The MAN DESTROYED MY LIFE BY PUTTING HIS HANDS ON ME SEXUALLY. If I was just not the one who raised his hand and met this Monster, all of the struggles and problems I had in my life would not be an issue. I know things would have been different. I would have problems of course, but nothing in comparison to the mountain of problems that come from surviving sexual abuse from someone you loved, admired, defended and respected. What mussa did to me was put out the fire I had in my life, the fire in my heart. And there is nothing but darkness when the fire is gone. And , if it was true , as I was taught in my Catholic education, that man was made in god's image, well then from that point on my relationship with god was extremely, extremely fractured. I can only imagine how my life would have turned out if I never met this mentor and role model who was really just a wolf in sheep's clothing.                                           
For thirty years I knew  that there would be were others abused by mussa . Around October, 2014 I googled Brother Joe Mussa, as I would from time to time in my quest and belief that someday somewhere other victims would surface. I was vigilant . The container diaries would always come up in the past as it did this time. Container Diaries is a website created about Holy Name and the neighborhood. Container is reference to the to-go quart of Budweiser (container) that you can get at Farrells Bar. When i was growing up that's what the neighborhood centered around. Holy Name  church/school and Farrells Bar. The posting about mussa was brief. Just people’s comments saying what a great teacher he was at Holy Name and how he would referee the basketball and football games in the school yard. Someone even made a comment at how good mussa was at picking out “at risk” kids. That pissed me off to see people praise him when I had these bad memories of him and all the things in a sexual nature that he did to me.       
I have given mussa the chance to come clean with me.  As far back as 1992 I have had encounters with the Catholic church and my desire to heal the wounds that this man has caused in my life, always to be denied and cast off as some degenerate who was looking for a payday. THAT WAS NEVER THE CASE!!! several times I went to the church and asked them for help with a crippling drug addiction. An addiction that I blame mostly on mussa. Now I know that I'm the one who, with my own hands picked up these drugs and with my own hand ingested these drugs. But the age that  started doing these drugs at 13 years old, was a direct result of the sexual abuse that I received from mussa. Its as if i really had no choice at that time in my life. When I started getting high, right out of the gate I was off and running. At 13 I was smoking weed, snorting cocaine and drinking alcohol. And I was doing these things in excess. The drugs made me feel like someone else, a different person then the sexually abused boy that i was now protecting and safeguarding from the cruel world that I live in.…….. 
Along with “Container Diaries” another site popped up titled “Burn and Rot in Hell”.  Googling mussa’s name brought me directly to this posting titled “ This St. Francis Prep Sexual Abuse Survivor Wants You to Know His Story.” 
I read the  story.                                                                                    His story was my own story.
After reading it, I cried like an 11 year old boy would cry. Tears flowing over my cheeks as if a faucet was somehow attached to my eyes. The absolute tremendous force of vindication and relief came over me. Over the last twenty years when I had first told someone what had actually happened to me up until that day that I read that posting on Burn and Rot in Hell, I was always waiting for some other victim of mussa’s to surface. Anytime there was anything about someone molesting some boy in a newspaper I would scan through the article looking for mussa’s name. TV news stories I would wait to hear his name. Waiting and waiting for someone to validate my claims of sexual abuse from a man , a man of God, that went around preying on the youth of our community.
Let me go back to eighth grade. Once my family moved and school had started I found myself gravitating towards the kids who were getting high using drugs. I also was hanging out with the older guys by way of the four guys who coached my Baseball team. For whatever reason these guys liked me and their friends liked me. So I would rotate between  hanging out with the older guys and hanging out with the kids my own age. It was around this time that i was givin my nickname that i would go by for the next 10 years; ZIGGY.                                             
Danny was now Ziggy and that's exactly how I wanted it. I was able to put aside the hurt confused boy and  gain a false sense of self with Ziggy. Now I was this slick kid who would hang out with the older guys, do drugs go to bars, out to the Hamptons take road trips to rock concerts out of state. I hid Danny away . My last year at Holy Name I remember very few things about. That's probably because I wasn't there a lot. To this day I have no idea how I got away with all the time I took off from school. I would cut school a week or two weeks at a time. I would leave the house in the morning go up to Rayray and Mickey's house and ditch school with everyone else who was ditching or just didn't go to school all together. When I did return to school i would bring a note that I had written, but I would forge my mother's signature using one of her cancelled checks and a Light Bright machine.The Light Bright machine would allow me to trace my mother's signature using just the lighted surface so it became transparent enough to see through. And my teacher would take it and accept it as if it was a normal thing to do. At no time did the school notify my parents of all of my absences and at no time did they question the validity of my notes from home. I might speculate that they had some kind of idea of what was going on from those un-authorized counseling sessions i was dragged out of class to go to. I believe they could have helped me then, they had to have known something and they had to have made the decision not to do anything about it.
Again it's only speculation. So my eight year was spent ditching school and getting stoned and getting into all sorts of trouble. This all being the direct result of a relationship I had with a person who was suppose to protect me.                                        
One of the reasons that i started hanging out with the older guys was because they protected me. These guys were all in their 20’s, and there were a lot of them. After a while ,I became their mascot for lack of a better word. I had keys to some of their apartments where i could come and go as I pleased.  
The other reason I was hanging out with these guys was because they gave me drugs. They thought it was funny or cute to see this tiny little kid smoking weed or snorting cocaine. I could go on for pages of some of the crazy things these guys did. But what mattered most to me at that time was being protected so no one would touch me again. And having the ability to gain access to drugs that would make me feel normal for the most part and take all those memories out of my head. The older guys provided me with those things. And there were truly good guys in that group, guys who tried to direct me in the right direction. And try to steer me away from the guys who were feeding me hard narcotics, thing was that I wanted those stronger drugs. I needed them to feel normal. Cocaine was the “non addictive drug” when i was first starting to do it in 1980. At least that's what everyone was saying. Well we all know that's the furthest thing from the truth…...I spent my high school years like some sort of cool breeze kid. I was the one kid out of all the other kids in the neighborhood who the older guys liked and wanted me to hang out with them . School was just some inconvenience I had to deal with for eight hours everyday. I was such a bad student that even if i tried to apply myself I would just get frustrated and give up. Every year I managed to have to go to summer school for two classes every summer even the summer after I graduated. Now I went to Catholic high school, and I had no interest in what the brothers had to say ,. At that point i hated school. hated the whole institution . I was jaded. I couldn't see how important education was. How vital an education was. That's another thing mussa robbed from me. An education. Does this prick realize how much damage he has done all to satisfy some sick perversion? And the ones who protected him are just as culpable and responsible as he is. I even had to go to summer school AFTER I graduated. You can put that on the list as well. Robbed of every summer vacation from school.
After high school my Father got me a job as an ironworker. Dangerous job, yes. Well-paying job, yes. Did I keep the job, NO . My inability to to keep my mouth shut has cost me many jobs. My drug addiction has cost me many jobs, by the time I was 23 years old I had a very bad crack addiction. Whenever I feel threatened I get defensive right away. If  I feel like someone is trying to get over on me or take advantage of me I feel the overwhelming need to stand up for myself and stop any transgressions.                    
My biggest regret in life was the job I lost that my father got me . I was in the local 3 electricians union apprenticeship program. Unfortunately I was ill prepared for the classroom aspect of the job. I picked up the on the job training pretty easily. But the classroom stuff I just could not do. I was crippled from my early school experiences. I was never a good student after the abuse from mussa. I had no faith in the Catholic school education. Me just coasting through my school years did not benefit me whatsoever. I had no studying skills no note taking skills and my attention span was that of a dog. I was so good at picking up my trade that my foreman while I was in the union gave me a job in his side company. His side business was the equivalent of a small business that someone would have. I was running jobs for him and I was barely able to hold it together because of my crack addiction. Again I would lose another job. But I learned my trade, and continued to learn it from guys with more experience than me. Tommy S., my coach from little league and my inductee into the older guys asked if I could take a look at some electrical work that his brother-in-law needed done at his business. At this time my addiction was full blown . I did have a tendency of cleaning up good. But I could only keep up that facade for so long, before it blew up in my face. Tommy's brother in law Marty G. caught me on my bounce back. I did some good work for him and he liked the work I did. With the work came money and money and me didn't last long . I was sleeping in the park before long and when Marty found out he took me into his home with his wife and newborn son.                                                
Marty was the first person that I ever told about what mussa had done to me. Marty was a retired hero detective and is currently a politician. Marty looked out for me and a big way! He ended up putting me on touch with Father John Harvey, a Catholic priest . He had an office in a church on the West Side of Manhattan on 34th street. He was very old, very firm and on his game…..He said to me one of his jobs for the church was taking care of their dirty laundry . Outside and inside the church., he told me he counseled nuns who were raped  or assaulted by priests. Priests who were having sex with anyone from a parishioner or another priest. Whatever it is it came across his desk. I was very intimidated by  him. But i told him what mussa had done to me . And he became very angry and said he was going to make them pay for that. At that time I was drinking and drugging, mostly drugging at that time. I was ready for what would turn-out to be a tune-up (in and out of detox’/rehab).A chance to get off the street and clean up. Well Fr. Harvey told me he was going to have them send me to rehab. I thought that would be great, I wanted to stop. I always wanted to stop…...a few days later I found myself up at Graymore , a large piece of property that the Catholic church owns in Garrison, NY. They have a retirement community of nuns, brothers and priests. Several graveyards and several churches. They hold religious retreats there and there is St. Christophers Inn. At that time strictly a 19 day men's shelter and you could not have drugs in your system, the do urine test when you get there. Alcohol abuse only. No druggies allowed.
Unbeknownst to me until I arrived, it's run by Franciscan friars. The last place I wanted to be was around these men in brown robes wearing sandles. I didn't trust them: case in point. The guy who did my intake was a rather large friar Tuck fella. He got extremely close to me by rolling his chair right up to mine, our faces an inch apart and asked me “when your father's penis entered your mother's vagina would you ever have thought that you would have turned out the the way you did?” First off the question makes no sense whatsoever. I couldn’t counsel with myself at my conception.  I believe he just said it to get his rocks off.  That was what I concluded immediately after backing away from him.
After the 19  days they may “select” you to go to St. Joseph's rehab upstate by the Canadian border, also run by the Franciscan friars. I was having no part of it. Besides they knew about my allegations and were definitely giving me the cold shoulder at Graymore. I did the 19 day stay (tune-up) and went right back to the streets.                                                                 
About this time I was offered a one way Greyhound ticket to Florida.  Hurricane Andrew just destroyed southern Fla. So there was plenty of work for me there. So I traded in the grimy streets of Brooklyn for the white sands of Florida….Not such a good idea if you got a cocaine problem that you're trying to fix. Long story short. I ended up being sentenced to 3 years in a state penitentiary. After 18 months I was released and left Florida immediately.                                                                   
Back to Brooklyn, back in the life. Many failed attempt at cleaning up. Joined the Navy only to be entry leveled discharged because of the level of drugs that were in my system. I also spent a year in Sunny California pretty much working for my Uncle Mike and staying with him and his wife and two little cousins. Mike was an amazing carpenter who made these beautiful door entries and bay windows by milling trees delivered off of trucks. Oh and we smoked a lot of pot. I was on  the marijuana maintenance program. I wasn't smoking crack because i had no idea where to get it. I was living in Moreno Valley…..the armpit of America. Shit I was in Cali and i was living in the desert. After 9 months with uncle Mike I hit the road and headed for the golden sands of Newport Beach working for an electrician who had a lot of famous clientele. I am notorious for cleaning up my act (I cleaned up good) . Get a good job…….do real good at that job. Then destroy it by getting high and not going to work. And I would play this out time and time again. My employer would always take me back , give me multiple chance’s til they just couldn't any more . Six months later I was back in brooklyn sleeping on friends’ couches until they were missing something and I was either gone or asked to leave. Drug addicts will rob you then help you look for whatever they robbed. A year later I would end up back in California for the next 7 years.                                                                  
Again , for all the time I spent out in California , I would repeat the cycle of being completely destitute  eating in soup lines and kitchens. Using drugs, unemployed to  going in a program for a tune up getting my shit together to get a place of my own a good job only to repeat the cycle of starting to use drugs to losing everything. Repeat over and over. My inability to keep a job or apartment was due completely to my addiction . My way of punishing myself stuck in a cycle of insanity. I lived up and down the coast of California. San Francisco , Los Angeles, San Diego . I was always running away from myself. My life consumed by low self esteem  and self doubt caused by a childhood of being a prisoner of my own self. Ziggy it turns out , was a manipulating drug addict who would do just about anything to get his next hit.        People who reached out to help would only have their hand slapped because I was not ready to stop. The messages that I received in my relationship with mussa has had a tremendous effect on the person I had become. Anywhere I turned to find help as far as being a survivor of sexual abuse was met with inexperience. Any counselor I went to in all of the rehab’s I've been in all would respond with answers that would minimize the trauma I experienced. Or some even attempted to make excuses for Mussa. On my second go at Graymore in 2002 , at this time St. Christophers inn had developed into thriving drug and alcohol rehab, my counselor, who was a priest in the Franciscan order . Fr. Jim actually told me that he believes mussa was just trying to relate to me, trying to relive his childhood, because more than likely he was abused as a boy. ……...So get this mussa was trying to play with me as if he was at my age because his childhood was most likely traumatized by some sort of sexual abuse by someone else…...well …...I have no tolerance for the abused to become the abuser. No way in hell would I ever put a innocent child into such a dark and isolated place . Why would someone, if sexually abused want to inject that horror on to someone else, let alone be a serial molester like I believe mussa is. To put dozens of people through that turmoil , send them off into a world of self hatred and doubt. A world of drug addiction and alcoholism.
I found a book titled “Victims No Longer” by Mike Lew ,it's a book on child sexual abuse and surviving such an ordeal and the cause and effects of that abuse.That book gave me a lot of insight on my situation, the way I think and the things I have done to survive in my life that I carry with me every day. There was a section in the book that spoke of confronting your abuser and finding some healing and closure…...way overrated. Confronting my abuser  made things far worse than ever. Now i'm sure there may be some psychobabble bullshit that i was not emotionally prepared for such a confrontation, but frankly I was at the end of my rope. I was in search of help for many years and I was desperate for a solution. My needs were minimized in AA & NA, People would say shit like “ you need to get over it” or “that shit happens to everyone” to the granddaddy of them all “what does that have to do with your drug problem” ….all actually quotes from people in those programs said to me. I needed, as suggested in those programs’ literature, “outside help” and the professionals that I sought out weren't schooled on my plight and I sensed their inexperience on the subject. Or they were more concerned with the method of payment than anything at all I had to say.     
So I took it upon myself to fix myself. I contacted the Head of the Franciscan order in Brooklyn from my tiny apartment in San Clemente , California . On the other end of the line I was received with resistance and attitude by  Brother Thomas Grady. I told him about mussa molesting me while I was a young boy and the devastating effect that had on my life. He became very rude to me and started to, what seemed like , interrogate me on the reasoning and purpose for these allegations. Now you must remember, sexual abuse in the church was still at a whisper at this time. People who went to church didn't want to hear it and people who ran the church adamantly DENIED IT !!!  So you can imagine what kind of predicament I was in and how  much a pioneer I was in coming forward with no desire to be said pioneer. I told Grady  I wasn't looking for anything but closure by this meeting I was trying to have with mussa and grady treated me so badly and had a attitude toward me like I was the predator instead of the victim I truly was. So Grady reluctantly said he would set the meeting up for me at the time I would be home for  Christmas There were two stipulations, first Grady wanted me to go see a psychiatrist  in Los Angeles. One that he would arrange and choose. I’m guessing  he wanted to be sure i was a stable enough person with no bad intent. Not really sure what his reasoning was for me to be evaluated, whatever it was that he was or wasn't looking for, he was satisfied enough with the feedback from the shrink and I was given the ok to have my meeting with mussa. The second stipulation was when i addressed mussa with my accusations i was to begin each claim I had against him with …..Get this now…..”AS I REMEMBER IT” for example…..” As I remember it you put your hands down my pants while I was a passenger sitting next to you in your car “ …...or “As I remember it, you molested me in front of 1700 people at the KISS concert and got away with it”.  I agreed to this all the while knowing I was not going to follow such ridiculous ground rules.                                                                                                          
So that Christmas I went to the Franciscan friars headquarters on Remsen street in downtown Brooklyn. I brought my younger sister with me, Eileen, who at the time was a school teacher. I remember  the days leading up to the meeting having a lot of anxiety and being very nervous. The day of the meeting  Eileen and I were standing around the corner from the Franciscans’ building . I was smoking a cigarette to kill some time and prepare myself mentally to what I was about to do. While we were standing there out of the corner of my eye , mussa walks right by us. Eileen's back was to him so she didn't see him. But i most certainly did. It had been over 20 years since I have seen this man who put my life into such turmoil and confusion. All the worry and reservations that I had in my mind about seeing him had immediately dissipated and left me . I turned to Eileen and said to her  “this is going to be a piece of cake, he just walked by us.” We watched as he walked ahead of us towards the Friar multi-million dollar Brownstone on Remsen st. in the exclusive neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. Some vow of poverty, wouldn't you say? Coincidentally that's also mussa’s current address. Eileen and I followed shortly behind him.   
A few days earlier just after i arrived home , I went to see Grady. I have not met him up to this point, we talked over the phone and when we did speak he wasn't very nice to me to me, and meeting him in person wasn't any different.. He wanted to see me to go over his ground rules and how this meeting was going to be done.
The meeting was  a waste of everyone's time .  We were greeted at the reception desk by Grady and i had introduced my sister Eileen who I told him I wanted her to be with me for moral support and the fact that she is an educator herself.    
We entered a small room with four chairs of which one was occupied by mussa. For the first time in as many years I finally was able to look this man in the eyes and tell him what he did to me and what effect it has had on my life.. …….I spoke of specific events when he molested me , driving his car , the KISS concert, the sex education class we had inside his car while parked in Holy Name school  yard.  Told him how he molested me in dark movie theaters. The slow reaching over to put his hand on my knee and working his way up to my crotch and forcing his hand into my pants by aggressively pulling down my zipper to gain access to my private area. I told him how fucked up that made me feel and how fucked up my life was due to the abuse that I suffered.
mussa looked at me and told me that he was very sorry that I have these memories but as far as he is concerned that never happened what we had was good times together we horsed around went to the movies went to concerts and the Baseball Hall of Fame but never did he ever put his hands on me. I replied to mussa and said  that I understand that he's lying because his boss is sitting right next to him,  but he knows exactly what he had done to me at that point my younger sister Eileen spoke up and told musa that as far as she's concerned, as an educator and a school teacher what he did is one of the most cruelest things someone can do to a child.  When your trusted to nurture and protect someone only to destroy a  child's life that he should be totally ashamed of himself. Again he acted as if we were totally out of our minds on what we accusing him of doing. Eileen and I just got up and left I didn't thank anybody, there was nobody to thank. I was not treated fairly by Brother Grady and even worse by mussa.  Afterward I followed up with Grady and he told me that  it was humanly impossible for mussa to do what I said and done to me. I was scolded for making them take him out of school from his classes and  his coaching and putting him into a therapeutic environment for a few weeks for evaluation.  
Then they came to the conclusion that he just couldn't do this to anybody that was what I was told so here I was 20 years after the fact of being molested and I was being victimized again . I had nothing better to do on my Christmas trip back home then set-up and execute this meeting with these men. The hell with the Rockettes and the Christmas show, I wanted to falsely accuse mussa of violating me 20 + years earlier for my Christmas trip to NYC. The friars did however offer to pay for partial of any counseling or therapy. They offered me something like paying 30% of the cost, which to me at that time was worth nothing to me, I had no money to spend on therapy. But their offer of paying for some portion of therapy told me there that they felt my story had some truth to it,  or they wouldn't have made that offer to me. So I was sent out the doors to continue of life of drug abuse for the next 10-15 years and which I guess they would hope I would just die from it  and go away. But those days are over. And I always knew someday somewhere that someone else would come forward with a similar story as me. Everything I always read about lowlifes that prey on innocent children don’t do it just one time. I even went to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and filed a complaint on him. Even though the statute of limitations had run out, which I believe to be a bunch of bullshit especially when it comes to crimes against children. How was I supposed to get justice and come forward when the whole foundation of the abuse is based on shame and guilt. How do the lawmakers come to the conclusion that a child or an adolescent or a young adult can make such a decision to speak up about the abuse when there is nothing but shame and guilt associated with it all . Even to this day I still have to be very selective to who I tell this story to. Or if I badmouth the church to some old church lady who never misses a Sunday mass, people are so blind and in denial when it comes to these men. And the denial and the legal system is what keeps these men preying and not praying .  After I googled his name about a year ago and the posting came up on Burn and Rot in Hell, I was sent into an emotional reaction both happy and very sad. FINALLY , its been 30 years since I've been waiting for someone else to come forward with same story that I had.  I cried for an hour then I called my sister, and I called up my parents finally I've had some vindication .
With this new information I actually thought the cat was out of the bag. mussa, from what I read in that posting, had finally admitted to these transgressions, the posting even said that mussa and the Franciscans even gave this guy checks. And he stated he had the cancel checks to prove it. The story was identical to mine, i just replaced hockey games with baseball hall of fame and movies . And I could also tell from the dates given in the account that I was a victim before him and also I could tell from the dates that I reported it before he did.
I had a lot of emotions dealing with this information. I was angry that, knowing I existed and had made similar claims , I was never notified by anyone to try and help me. I was angry about the money, and I was especially angry about how i was accused of wrongdoing and malicious intent when I sought help from these Christian men. So I decided to have another confrontation with mussa and I reached out to the current  head of the order .This time I was treated  more kindly and more with the atmosphere of understanding. I didn't have to jump through hoops to get to talk to mussa.  I explained to Brother William Boslet the Superior General at the time of my past history with the order, how me and my sister had a meeting with mussa many years earlier and how dissatisfied and disappointed I was with the way I was treated and handled.  
                                                                                                  Bro. William had me come in first for a meeting with him. So I went to Remsen street to meet with him and he had another Brother, I forgot his name but I'm assuming it's some kind of legal person to  sit in our meeting. And again for the God knows how many time, I told the story of me and brother joe mussa. From the look on both of their faces throughout the telling of my story told me he knew that mussa was a pedophile, and what i was saying he did to me as a child was true.
Brother William then informed me that mussa did not want to meet with me. That made me very angry. I was looking at this from a totally different angle. I actually thought that this man was willing to allow me to heal. I thought that because of the posting on Burn and Rot in Hell that he would of course be willing to meet with me and we would have a spirit of forgiveness. That healing would begin and we could get on with our lives.                                                                                     
I told Bro. William that that was bullshit, I said to him that he was his superior and he should tell mussa there is no option. He must take a meeting with me.                             .

A phone call from Bro. William a few days later informed me the meeting was on. Shortly there after there we were again in the same building the same office and for the most part the same people . Hence Brother William and his associate. It was mussa , my sister Eileen and myself. I sat directly from mussa and looked him squarely in the eyes. I had before me not this image of a man I looked at as a hero and role model that I had instilled in me from my days before the molestation . Nor did I have the man I was so fearful of telling no to and unable to muster courage to make him stop touching me. No,I had before me an aging overweight sad looking man. Somewhat hunched over as if the weight of the world was on him. And that is what I wish on him. That the guilt would crush him over the years. I don't know.
I took from my pocket a copy of the posting about him. I read it out loud for everyone in the room to hear and as much as I could, I kept direct eye contact with mussa. When I  finished reading the blog posting, I turned to brother William and told him that the story I read was identical to my story about my relationship with mussa. I then faced mussa and went over again, specifics of what he had done to me. I told him how he affected my life and how it still affects me today. and to my total disbelief he fucking denied doing anything to me. He remembered the trip to the Baseball hall of fame and he remembered hanging out with me at the mall, the movies and Burger King. Then he mentioned the Kiss concert. I just finished moments ago explaining the vivid memory of the guy standing in front of us watching him trying to get in my pants while I sat on his shoulders. mussa then did something that I found very telling. He raised his hands above his head and said he was not quite sure how he could have gotten into my pants while sitting on his shoulders. He wiggled his hands around and  mimicked the molesting attempt.  In my eyes it was a bizarre thing to do and it only served to make him look guilty. It was akin to OJ trying on the bloody gloves half-heartedly while making it look as if he was struggling to get them on. And that dumb look on his face. mussa had the same look on his pathetic face as well. He again denied me any closure or healing. The man who dedicated his life to helping mankind and to assist the suffering and helpless with love and understanding. A man who glorifies the lord in all he does, that's right , IN ALL HE DOES. A man who vowed to give service to the people of God. He is suppose to help heal the wounded, to bind up those who are bruised and to reclaim the erring. That's from the mission statement of the order of the Franciscan friars. I HAVE NO EXPERIENCE WITH SUCH BEHAVIORS. At this time I knew i was talking to a psycopath. I was again getting nowhere with this man or his colleagues. I looked this shell of the man I knew right into his eyes and asked “Have you ever molested a child before” he said “NO”. Eileen chimed in and basically told him what a vile human he is to not acknowledge my pain and allow me closure. We got out of our seats and we left.  Revictimized again by the men in robes pretending to be what they are not."
That's the last time Danny spoke with the Franciscans. He was offered nothing, not even an apology, for a lifetime of hurt. How do you look in the mirror, Bill Boslet? Are you proud of who you are? Do you wake up in the morning and tell yourself that you are a good man and that you have done the right thing by Danny? 
The movie Spotlight was released last week. Spotlight is the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the Boston Archdiocese.

I can't wait to see it.
                                                                                                                *Please pardon any formatting errors, there seems to be a glitch.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Second Sexual Abuse Survivor Comes Forward About Former St. Francis Prep Teacher Brother Joe Mussa: Grand Theft Childhood

This work is not easy. I cry a lot when I read stories like Daniel's. But when I can help people like Daniel receive one ounce of closure by helping them be heard, I know in my heart this three year journey from when I first started the Saint Francis Prep series of blogs has been worth it.

I first wrote about the child molester Brother Joe Mussa, (who now is retired from Xaverian High School and living in the friary on Remsen Street in Brooklyn) in June, 2013. Here it is: Brother Joe Mussa Sexual Abuse Victim Speaks Out

A few weeks ago, a gentleman commented on this blog. His name is Daniel, and this is his story, in his own words. This is the first part of a two-part blog. 

Danny, this is for you. No one is ever going to shut you up again.

"It was right before Easter 1976, I was in the 5th grade at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in Brooklyn, New York. I was 11 years old. A student from Mr. Joseph Mussa's 8th grade class came down to my classroom and told my teacher that Mr. Mussa needed two volunteers, one boy and one girl, to help him decorate the bulletin board in his classroom . Everyone's hand shot up. Mr Mussa was the coolest teacher in the whole school. He was Joe cool. He ran the intramural hockey and football leagues at the school. If you had Mr. Mussa as a teacher you were considered very, very lucky. A lot of teachers at Holy Name were nuns and a handful of Brothers, for the most part they were all considered to be very strict and mean, quite frankly they were. During my grammar school years there was also a decline in nuns and Brothers being teachers, they seem to be fading out. Now there were some regular people teaching, and they seem to be more easier going and pleasant then the men and women of “ the cloth." You would think it would be the other way around, you know with the GOD thing and all ! So when I was picked as the boy student to go up to Mr. Mussa’s classroom, I was thrilled and the envy of all the other kids in my class. and when my teacher picked the prettiest girl in all of the 5th grade i was thrilled and envied even more. Looking back now all these years later……….I wish I never raised my hand on that day. But at the time it was akin to Charlie finding the golden ticket for a day at the chocolate factory with Mr. Willy Wonka himself. The girl, Michelle, and I spent that afternoon decorating Mr. Mussa's classroom for the upcoming Easter holiday. we joked around and laughed the afternoon away. I was nervous about meeting and interacting with Mr. Mussa , but as I soon realized, he was not like the other teachers at Holy Name, He would pal around with you, put you in a playful headlock and give you a few nuggies on the head, way different than any of the other teachers . He would even told me to call him Joe. Mr. Mussa had noticed me when he would be in the schoolyard refereeing the flag football games. At one game I was picked to be the kid who was in charge of the clock that kept the time for the games . It was a position everyone who wasn't in the game jockeyed fo , and a job Mr. Mussa would assign someone at each game. I would watch the older boys like John C. and Bart P. jump into his station wagon after the games when he would take them down to Burger King for some burgers. I would hear the stories the next day of all the laughs they had and I wanted to be a part of that fun. For the next two months after our afternoon decorating his classroom, Mr.Mussa , or Joe as I was allowed to call him, would hang around the schoolyard after school and throw a football or baseball around, talk sports and would joke around the neighborhood kids who played there after school . I only lived two blocks away from the school and spent lots of time there. One day I received a letter at home from Mr. Mussa. I was surprised. In the letter, from what little I remember, Mr. Mussa told me how happy he was to meet me and how special of a kid that I was. He also said that we were going to be very good friends. I remember how in the beginning of our friendship he would always repeat those same things to me. How special I was, and how we were going to be good buddies. That really made me feel good about myself. There were even a few kids, me being one of them, that Joe was taking a liking to. Kids my own age, kids in my class. we were finally being the ones he would take for burgers or ice cream. He even took me and another classmate home to his parents' house to look at his record album collection. I remember going there specifically so he would show us the clues that were hidden to the “Paul is dead “ rumors about the Beatles' Paul McCartney.  They claimed Paul McCartney was dead and replaced by a lookalike, with hidden clues on album covers and inside album jackets and you could even hear someone saying “Paul is dead“ by playing one of their albums backwards. Mr. Mussa knew and showed us where all these clues were. 

The end of the school year was coming. At that time I got average grades of B’s, C's and D”s. School was a bit of a struggle for me. Summer was coming and I couldn't wait to go the CYO surf club in Coney Island were me and my family spent the summers BBQing and swimming with other families from Holy Name Parish. I was starting to gain confidence in myself. My self esteem was starting to grow. Mr. Mussa had taken a liking to me that made me feel like I was the most special kid in the world. He promised me more trips to Burger King for french fries and hamburgers and to Carvel for ice cream. We had been there several times, mostly with other boys from school, but the last couple of times it was just Mr. Mussa and myself…….Summer arrived and Mr. Mussa sent a couple of more letters to me and then all of the sudden they stopped. Summer went and no sign of Mr. Mussa. I was devastated. I thought I may have done something wrong. Was he mad at me ? These thoughts ran through my mind. My self esteem and confidence which was picking up steam was now dissipating. I was baffled and confused. No Joe Mussa !! Where did he go? He was a fixture at the school, active in sports programs and very much liked among the student body. Sixth grade was beginning soon and I was anxious to see Mr. Mussa if only for one thing, to find out what I did wrong, and why at one moment I was his new little pal and then the next I wasn't .

I spent the summer wondering where he was…… spent the summer waiting for one of those letters that were also like a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory………... . very few kids got personal letters from him, but if you did you felt as part of an elite group. Mr. Mussa was your buddy…..a school teacher went out of his way to see you, you were friends to the envy of your classmates. And he has such a distinctive handwriting that you would be able to tell it was a letter from him without even reading anything on the envelope.. It was that distictive. You could even tell if someone else had a letter from him at a quick glance of it from across a room.. He was already having a bad effect on my life and I only really knew him for two months. It's as if I was raised up past all my peers and put on some sort of pedestal only to be tossed aside and forgotten. The worst part…...I had no idea or explanation as to why. Me and my school mates speculated as to what happened and where he was. Then school started up, and he never showed up. We were told he wouldn't be teaching at Holy Name . He was being replaced, gone. and no one seemed to have a clue as to where he went. Sometime towards the middle of the 6th grade, the girl who lived downstairs in the building I lived in solved the mystery. There he was, a photograph in the Tablet, a Catholic newspaper. There was a picture of him with a few other men in a semi-circle all dressed in brown robes with a headline above the photograph announcing them all as new Christian Brothers in the Franciscan Friars order of the Catholic Church. Mr. Joseph Musa had become Brother Joe. I was disappointed when I saw it. Why would the coolest teacher in the world join a group of men that the students were all frightened of ? The few Brothers that were at Holy Name all had a reputation as being strict hard-nosed men and they did nothing to make you believe otherwise. (From this point forward I will refer to Mr. Mussa as just mussa, the m in lowercase and I will never refer to him as Brother. He is not deserving of respect that I would show any man by referring to them with Mr. , and I will not refer to him as Brother in respect to myself for my own feelings in regards to Brothers in general .) Me and my classmates were in shock over this bit of information , I couldn't understand it. To me mussa had joined a group of mean spirited men who walked around in heavy brown robes with a thick bright white rope tied around their waist, who ruled with an iron fist carrying around a ruler to discipline out of line students with . At least that's the impression we younger kids got from the older ones. During my 8 years at Holy Name, the lay people , as they were referred to as (people who were not members of any religious order) were just starting to gain numbers over the nuns who in turn outnumbered the Brothers in my school. There still were several nuns at holy name and if my memory serves me right, I can only remember there being two Brothers teaching in Holy Name, Brother John and Brother Tom. And in contrast to a student being considered lucky to have mussa as their teacher, you were considered not as fortunate to get either Bro. John or Bro.Tom as your teacher. Their class was rigid and strict. In my eight years there I never had a Brother as my primary teacher. I think maybe once I had a nun as a primary teacher as well as the art teacher and the librarian who were both nuns and whose interactions were limited to an hour each a week.. Then somewhere towards the middle of my 6th year at Holy Name when I came home from school and I received a letter from mussa…...instantly upon seeing the envelope, I recognized his distinctive handwriting and the bright blue ink (he always used a specific bright shade of blue ink) I was nervous and tense about getting his letter. In fact it took several hours before I opened it and read it. Inside the letter mussa told me about where he was for the last year and how he was ordained as a Brother, and what changes that is having in his life. mussa also told me that those changes would not have any effect on our friendship and that his movement were restricted while he was studying to become a Brother and now he had more freedom to come visit his “little buddy” which was what he called me all the time. He use to always sing “oh Danny Boy “ to me all the time , I find it very difficult whenever I hear that song now. I wrote back to him, I had many questions. I put the letter with the others in a shoebox under my bed. I was acquiring quite a collection. And now that he wasn't on any restriction, the letters started coming pretty much on a weekly basis. One of the first things I was worried about was what mussa was going to be wearing. The brown robes and sandals disturbed me. How were we going to go to the movies or to Burger King? I was concerned about being seen in public with a Brother, and what was I to call him? Should I call him Mr. mussa or do I have to call him Brother Joe (I know i said i wouldn't but I had to refer to him as mr. and Brother, but that's really the last time ever!!!!) mussa assured me that his being a Brother would not affect our relationship. As a matter of fact I was told from here on out I was to call him Joe just like before. Never his surname and never refer to him as Brother, I was he little buddy. We were friends. I cannot tell you how important that makes a young kid feel when a teacher at your school who everyone had to address them with respect with now using Brother before his name, where I was allowed to call him Joe. He liked me better than you, it was euphoric . Also mussa told me that when we hung out he would always be wearing street clothes. Him being a Brother was just his job, the robe was his uniform. when he wasn't working he wasn't required to have his uniform on. He compared himself to a policeman. When they were on duty they were required to wear their uniforms. They weren't allowed to wear them when they were off duty and that included traveling to and from work . I only remember seeing him wearing his robe only once, and the sight of him wearing it made me uncomfortable. mussa was big on the Muppets, he took me to the Muppet movies, bought me a Miss Piggy doll and a Kermit the Frog doll. he surprised me with these things and I was really embarrassed about them, so much that I kept them hidden in my closet. We also would take trips to Sam Goody, a record store in Kings Plaza Mall. In total I had 171 record albums that mussa had bought for me over the 2-½ years of my encounter with him. Whatever I wanted he would buy it for me, a boom box, electric toy car, a Kiss make up set that you can make yourself up as any of the members of the band..movies, baseball games, Burger King , McDonalds, Baskin Robbins, Carvel. As I look back that 1st year mussa never touched me in a bad way. He would pat and rub my back affectionately, mess up my hair and squeeze my kneecaps in an attempt to razzle me, it's akin to hitting your funny bone. Then all of the sudden all that changed. mussa would start to put his hand on my knee and then start moving his hand up my thigh rubbing my thigh as if to say “Hey buddy, good to see you." I became very tense and uncomfortable. I really didn't know what he was up to. I was very confused! The last thing I think he would do, is try to go to my private area. but his hand continued up my thigh. At this point I placed both of my hands on my lap, placed in such a manner that blocked the path I was sure now he was taking. He was heading for my penis. God-damn-it, they were right. The rumors were true, the teasing somehow justified. Ever since I started hanging out with mussa, some of the older kids who were in his class in Holy Name or were on the intramural hockey or football teams said that mussa liked little boys. They use to tease me when after that 1st interaction with him, decorating his bulletin board. The older kids would say he was lining me up to be his next boy toy. that's all I thought it was ….teasing, I don't know if I didn't want to believe it or not . At the time I was hearing these “rumors“ I had nothing but good memories of spending time with him. Besides I really wasn't clear of what the meant at that time. But as the year went by I was beginning to understand. In 1976 I was 10 years old. A very little boy, physically and mentally. I was ALWAYS 2nd in line, weather it was lining up in the school yard every morning for class, or my 1st Holy Communion or my as yet to happen at that time, my Confirmation (for which I picked the name Joseph after mussa.) I was always behind Richard R. who held the prestigious honor of being the shortest for our 8 years together at Holy Name. But today as I write this and over the years I would look at young boys that were 10,11,12 even 13 years old and think how can anyone do something like touch these babies the way mussa was starting to touch me. How the fuck could they do such a thing?! I can't remember exactly what had happened that first attempt at molesting me. Whether he succeeded at getting to my penis or not, it really is irrelevant. I do know from that day forward my life was completely changed. I was an 11 year old boy who wasn't even close to puberty. I didn't see my 1st pubic hair until I was 18 years old, (all the boys around me were showing obvious signs of manhood, I really thought that I was physically damaged from the sexual abuse and I'd never see puberty. High school gym was an absolute HORROR for me) just a young kid who’s adolescent years were robbed from me. I was involved in an adult activity that I had no idea what it was about, it was frightening and it was disgusting. It was ugly and it was incomprehensible. I just didn't understand. And most of all I was ashamed ! He romanced me for that first year, groomed me and isolated me. I stood up for him if someone was to say something in regards to him and young boys. mussa would spend the spring of 1977 manipulating me with a false love and gifts, there was never two words said between us when he was attempting to abuse me and when he abused me. It's almost as he wasn't aware of what his right hand was doing. He just would drive the car to wherever we were heading while nonchalantly putting his hand on my knee, making its way up to my crotch and manipulating my zipper on my pants. Mind you , I was trying my best to not allow him to get to my zipper. It was a silent war between us. He would try to go under and over my hand, back and forth I would shift down, he would try to go deeper under my hand. He would then go over, then go over and quickly go under as if to trick me up when I thought he was going one way. And I had so much time invested in our friendship that I didn't know what to do. I was too scared to tell my parents, thinking of how they were starting to be concerned about the things I was bringing home, and I defended him or at least I defended the gifts. I was being molested in his car, in the movies, in the schoolyard. It started happening more and more. And the more he molested me the more things he bought me. Times were a lot different then, I'm sure that if it was going on today, as far as my parents are concerned, they most definitely would have stepped in. People are more educated today, these whispers about shady scoutmasters or camp counselors, teachers, priests or the neighborhood adults who tended to gravitate around the young children. People today are more aware of the characteristics and tell tale signs of potential pedophiles. Also both my parents were the product of the Catholic school system, both my parents attended Holy Name. So I can imagine what they went through, how they viewed these men and women who are drawn to this life of celibacy, vow of poverty. When they were students all of the staff were priests, nuns, and Brothers. And when I made a stink about defending him, (when I did he hadn't touched me yet), so I legitimately defended him. I was afraid that I was going to have to return things back, too. Then when mussa started touching me in an inappropriate way, when he started to force his way into my pants so he could fondle my genitals I then felt responsible, somehow now I was complacent in allowing him to abuse me. He groomed me to feel this way. I mean at the end of the day, I did take the record albums, the cars, the footballs, the baseball gloves, clothes or any movie I wanted to see no matter what the rating of the movies were, no matter how inappropriate they may have been for the minor that I was ( i.e. Kentucky Fried Movie, Saturday Night Fever, Exorcist to name a few).There were 2 parts of my relationships with mussa, 90% of it was great and 10% an absolute fucking horror. I felt like I was a whore, allowing mussa to touch me inappropriately in exchange for gifts and money. Yea he would even give me money every time we got together $10 - $20 bucks after every visit. Hush money I freely accepted in return for my silence. My parents say they gave me a Catholic education that they believed was the best thing for me and for my other siblings it was. They were fortunate enough not to meet the monster that I met in school. I was a small, timid boy in grammar school that was bullied and teased by the bigger kids in class which turned me introverted even more. And problems at home that were developing were a direct result of my friendship with mussa. I became withdrawn , my grades took a nosedive from a struggling point to start out from..My respect for the entire education institution had become jaded, the Catholic church and GOD even deeper ensnared my belief system. The punishing God that was embedded into our young minds was taking his wrath out on me. How else can you explain one of his own doing what mussa was doing to me, to me the protocol was nuns, Brothers priests then GOD !! That summer of 77 I was given a break from the manipulation and abuse from mussa. My parents, brother, and two sisters along with myself all piled into the family wood paneled station wagon , and headed west to California, I hold this trip dear in my heart and have cherished memories of it. The places we saw along the way, camping out every night at some of the coolest campgrounds with these fantastic playgrounds. Falling asleep in the tent and waking up in the back of the station wagon every morning because my Dad would gently carry his sleeping children there so he would get an early start on the road. Seeing such majestic places like the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore, Hoover Dam, the Rocky Mountains the great Salt Lake, the Pacific Ocean, Hollywood, Disney World. Even though I was damaged goods at that point, I had a tremendous sense of relief that I wouldn't have to see mussa for a while. In essence it was my last real childhood memory. I knew when I got home I had to somehow end this relationship. But until then I was going to try to enjoy my trip to California. I remember trying to come up with a way to stop seeing him all together. . The stress that had put on me….how was I going to stop him , I couldn't go to my parents, the last thing was to go to my teachers. Not only was I becoming a troubled student who was getting failing grades and acting out I just didn't trust them. Did not trust the nuns, didn't trust the priest. Was so alone with only my thoughts to rely on, and they told me not to trust anyone.. That trip to California was truly, truly the end of my childhood, my innocent  and youthful spring in my step was now to become a dark scary outlook on people and an even darker outlook on life. I hold dear to my heart that trip. That was the last time I was Danny Cunningham. A little dramatic? You may think so if you have never been through this overwhelming internal tug-of- war that goes on deep inside your gut, deep into your soul a soul that has yet to know the cruelest and sickest parts of human nature. Realizing how cruel and selfish people can be, how blind to someone else's pain . How completely selfish and self centered one person can be towards another human being without any concern for their well being, there mental state. Do you know how difficult it is to hide the pain I was living, to walk around with a knot in your stomach that felt the size of a softball? How hard it was to hide the pain from everyone? No adult should have to go through such turmoil…..let alone a child ,. THE CONFLICT THAT I HAD TO ENDURE WITHIN MYSELF< I WAS LITERALLY INTERNALLY ARGUING INSIDE MY HEAD, ASHAMED AS A FUCKING 11-12 YEAR OLD BOY . 

When I should be playing baseball or trading cards, playing war, fort, or cops and robbers with my friends instead I was stuck in a friendship having been tricked into and for the most part having sex with a full grown man. A child involved in adult activities that that child had no fucking idea what that meant or the damage that it would cause me for the rest of my life. Almost every waking moment at that time my thoughts were consumed with what he was doing to me, in class all of the sudden having images in my head of him touching, in the middle of eating a sandwich a image flashes in my mind, playing at the playground another flashback. Consumed with the worry of people finding out what he was doing, feeling like a cheap streetwalker because I was accepting money and gifts. And the fear of not being able to turn him away when he was touching me, it was done in silence. Two words were never spoken between the two of us. I would have what would be some sort of outer body experience , like I rose above the event and watched from above as if it was someone else he was abusing. 

I was afraid to see him. 

Seventh grade was a nightmare. We returned home from our road trip to California. The end of my childhood. A letter from mussa arrived days after our arrival to Brooklyn . I took that letter and put it aside, not opening it for days. I'm guessing that mussa was catching on that I was trying to distance myself from him. Because his next move was one for the books. He finally reached me on the phone, the house phone, at that time that's all there was. No caller i.d. ,no answering machine. Just a standard ringing phone that had to be answered in order to find out who was calling. This time I found out it was mussa. There was also a strong attachment to mussa. I really, really, really liked this man, you could say I loved him, and believe me he conditioned me that way. It was if I was a ball of clay and was molded into precisely what he wanted and needed to get away with his crimes. And he was brilliant at masking these crimes. When he saw me distancing away from him he sensed my discomfort I guess when I was silently struggling with him trying to keep him from my genitals. He started laying on me a line about all of the touching was necessary that he had a real reason for doing it. He asked “I'm a teacher, right?” and yes he was. “Well I was trying to teach you sex education. What everyone your age should be taught, really I taught." That started to bring my guard down , I wanted a reason why …..a good reason. And even though it didn't explain everything he was doing 100%, at least I felt 60% of it maybe being the reason. And that's all I needed. He had convinced me in my 11 year old mind that he had me ask my mother if it would be ok if he taught me sex education.. That was one of the classes he taught at Nazareth high school which was now where he lived and worked. Along with teaching me sex education which he got the ok from my mother for him to do, he also was going to teach me how to drive, which mussa thought we should keep it between us for the time being……...Now let's look at this perfect execution of manipulating an 11 yr. old boy. The abuse was educational, after all he is a teacher and in order to continue that education he had gotten permission from my mother. IMAGINE THAT ….HE HAD MY MOTHER'S PERMISSION TO PUT HIS HANDS ON ME SEXUALLY. The sex ed class he gave me after he got permission to give it to me took place inside his car in Holy Name school yard. And it was hands on and it involved pornographic photos him showing me his “full grown” genitals and him forcing me into showing mine so we could compare the two. Outstanding, well played mussa! Now you had an even shorter leash on me, and knowing that I wouldn't go to my parents because now he had permission. 

He was crafty……………………………………………………………………………..then came the driving. the classic of all the mussa mind games . His promise of letting me drive his car, to teach me how to drive safely and correctly. Like most pedophiles , mussa knew how to lure me in, how to gain my confidence only to be conned. mussa driving academy consisted of me sitting on his lap, feeling his erection while he controlled the foot panels and me the steering. And this was done in an isolated area down on 2nd Ave and 32nd Street in Sunset Park. We went down there for one, the obvious reason. so I didn't get into an accident, but as I suspected, so he could get away with abusing me. With my hands doing the steering , that freed up mussa's hands to do the abusing, all while I sat on his erection.

My behavior had started to become very bad. I was acting out a lot more . I had all tis confusion and anger going on inside of me. This conflict internally would in turn become the conflict externally. My parents would yell at me at home. I would yell back and storm out of the apartment, cursing and screaming, teachers would discipline me for acting out or spacing out in class and mussa would keep sexually abuse me. I was drifting apart from everyone, I became withdrawn. The problems grew bigger and bigger. I was a little time bomb ready to explode. And from time to time that's exactly what would happen. I once threw chair at a science teacher, was having fights in class, I had become a chronic bed wetter ( which lasted to my mid twenties), my school grades absolutely horrible. The stressors that I was dealing with just withdrew me deeper into depression. I was trapped and I felt as if I had no one to turn to. I was manipulated into believing that. Here’s a funny thing. Around the time that mussa started to abuse me every week or every other week I would be taken out of class to go and talk to this nun in a tiny office on the 1st. floor. Don't remember her name, she was some sort of counselor. she would ask personal things about my family what I did outside school. Thing is, my parents never knew anything about these meetings with this nun. Had no idea I was taken out of class on a weekly basis. No letters to them informing them of their intentions, no phone call asking for their permission to pry into their son's mind. They took it upon themselves to take a look at me in a prying and personal matter. And at no time were my parents notified or brought up to speed on what they were doing and the results of these sessions that were very exhausting for me. I remember discussing mussa with this nun, what did she think about a former teacher from this school still returning to the school to spend time with a student that was never in one of his classes. I know that if I was told to evaluate a student's behavior and try to find some signs of why he would be acting out, what is it that could be causing him to be withdrawn and struggling with his schoolwork, I may take a harder look at a relationship he appears to be having with a past school employee where there was never any academic connection with said student.. What conclusion did she come up with? I'm sure I was discussed by my teachers prior to these sessions. They must of had some concern for me to bring in someone who was never at the school before, bring them in to see me My name wasn't just pulled out of a fucking hat to see this lady. I'm sure she had to report to her superiors on what conclusions she came to. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THAT, would love to see what came of it. My guess is they went on a fishing expedition and threw a net and dragged up something they thought was rotten and threw it back in. Threw it back in with no concern for any future regard for it and the damage it may cause later on. The only concern for the reputation of the institution as a whole . A true collateral damage in the wake of one of their own . Now this is only speculation on my part, then again I am the person who went through this experience first hand and am sure I'm not too far off the mark. The faculty and staff had to have had a reason to pull me from academic classes for an hour a week or bi-weekly, whichever it was is not relevant as much as why they did it is , I'm sure my teacher and principal were involved and had discussed me, had decided not to inform my parents of this decision and take action on their own, and then come to some conclusion. And I'm sure if they felt the problem was at home they would have had someone take a closer look into it, But maybe they found the problem was in-house and decided to turn a blind eye to it. Again , speculation. But I lived through it and it is my speculation. AND IT'S THE FIRST OF MANY DECEPTIVE LOW BALL BULLSHIT THAT I WOULD DEAL WITH WHEN DEALING WITH THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

The summer of 1978 had brought tremendous changes in my life. Changes that may not have been the best thing for me in the long run. But they were definitely what I needed for the short term solution for the problems I was going through in my young life, the pain and turmoil I experienced every day of my life, fantasizing of swinging a bat to mussa's head and ending my life. I should have been dreaming of girls, instead I was dreaming of assault. My parents had purchased a house down the block from where we were living at the time. 9 ½ blocks away. From one parish into another parish. From a very close-knit Catholic proper neighborhood into a more diverse mixed rougher area than the one in which we were currently residing. We lived in Brooklyn to start off with, so rough was pretty much the norm. But it was definitely more colorful living down at the bottom of the hill in Windsor Terrace. It might as well been a hundred miles from up the hill.. ……..

My neighborhood was cut off by the Prospect Expressway to the north and Prospect Park to the south. At the top of the hill there is 9th. Ave, and the bottom of the hill there's Greenwood Ave. This is my neighborhood, my boundaries. Windsor Terrace is of course much larger. This is the area I spent my childhood/adolescent years in. This included the apartment we lived in for the first 13 years in my life on the Circle and the house my parents bought down the hill on east 7th Street. Down the hill had a much more diverse group of kids in it. It was a little more the wild, wild west in comparison. Prospect Ave was a tiny business strip at that time. There was a butcher, deli, candy store named Blondie's, a luncheonette called Angie's, a plumber, Kingsbrook Printers where I had a small job at as well as a job delivering pizzas at Laura's Pizzeria.

Prior to us moving down the hill, I was on a baseball team for the Holy Name Father's Guild. I was lousy at sports, but my coaches were pretty cool younger guys. The coach , Tommy S., took a liking to me and sensing I was a bad player sort of made me his assistant. So here I was carrying a clipboard for another coach. But this dude was a lot more a ladies man. Where mussa would surround himself with young boys, Tommy S. would have pretty girls surrounding him. While mussa was into Helen Reddy, Barry Manilow and the Muppets, Tommy S. was at the other end with Led Zeppelin, The Who and smoking weed. When he and his assistant coaches, Ritney, Chris with the lazy eye, and Sidney, needed to take a pot break somewhere in the middle of the game, I would take over for all of them.Well when my family moved down the hill unbeknownst to me these guys all hung out there. I started hanging out with them, and I started to understand that what was happening to me because of mussa was wrong, Up until this point I was very uncomfortable with what mussa was doing to me. I felt very confused and scared by his actions, but I wasn't aware that what he was doing to me was against the law and I was becoming aware of it more and more, especially hanging out with these older dudes. That was giving me an education in itself.

And that goes as well for all the kids at or around my age that were in this neighborhood. They were drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes and weed. They were way ahead of where I came from. It was at this time that Slats gave me my nickname “Ziggy” and i was reborn. I was almost like another person. Danny was put away and I let Ziggy take over. That summer I saw mussa a handful of times, as I was gaining new friends, bad kids. With my new friends I was shutting down from the lifelong friends I had in Holy Name. I was resenting everything about the school, students and faculty, the church, priest nuns and of course Brothers... But this didn't happen overnight. mussa still forced his company on me, as well as bribe me to be his friend. That summer we did two things…well he tricked me into these things ,,,one was floor seats to a Kiss concert, there was no way I was saying no to that especially after he surprised me with the tickets. The second was a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Two very damaging points in our dysfunctional friendship we supposedly had. The KISS concert, at that time I lived and breathed KISS, they were the greatest band in the world to me at the time, Had all their albums to that point and now had tickets a feet from the stage. There are two things I remember very clearly about that show. The first was when the band came up through the floor, two on one side, two on the other, with an announcer saying over the P.A. “You want the best, you got the best, the greatest rock-n-roll band in the world, KISS!" Pyrotechnics were going off, their fist raised above their heads. It was so cool. The second thing I remember was the look from the guy who was sitting in front of us, or rather standing in front of us. The look on his face when he saw mussa putting his hand in my pants while he had me sitting on his shoulders. The guy was probably 18 to 20 years old. He didn't do anything to stop it for whatever reason, but he was horrified at what he was seeing…….that's my memory of that show. The guys exploding on to the stage and then me being molested in front of 17,000 people. The trip to Cooperstown to the Baseball Hall of Fame was a very traumatic experience for me that I just as soon not remember. I know that someone else was on that trip with us but I blocked a lot of it out that i have no idea who that person was. And the biggest thing that I remember about the trip was a dark creepy building that looked like something out of the 18th century. It was some monastery between Brooklyn and Cooperstown, NY. Don't know where it was, all I know was that was where mussa forced his way into the shower with me offering to wash me. Him grabbing my genitals and massaging them. And then him grabbing my hand and having me touch his penis in some warped attempt to jerk him off…...I was so frightened, trying to pull away from him. Don't remember how it ended, the shower that is. I know after when it was bedtime that he got into bed with me. I was horrified, being in this large damp building with all these monks walking around in their brown robes, not knowing where I was, blaming myself for putting myself in this situation. I remember him tickling me and me not wanting him to, as if he was trying to inject humor into this assault on me . Then I remember having a sort of out of body experience, as if I was watching someone else in the bed with mussa, someone else being violated by a grown man. And that is all the memory I have of that. Couldn't tell you where this other kid was during this. 

Since I had spent 7 years attending Holy Name my parents thought I should spend my last year there and graduate with all my classmates who I spent the last 8 years with. My younger sibling went to a different Catholic school. When we moved.. we moved into a different parish. At this point I was totally damaged goods. When I got home from that trip to Cooperstown, I now trust no one, every teacher, every storekeeper, priest or relative was treated as a potential abuser."

That's all Danny has to say for now. Part Two of his story is coming soon, detailing his attempts as an adult to get closure for himself, confronting the Franciscans and Brother Joe Mussa.

I only have one thing to say: FUCK YOU, FRANCISCANS.

By the way, I am receiving email after email after email from people telling me what bad shape Saint Francis Prep is in financially, and that teacher morale is at an all-time low. If you read my previous blog about Joe Mussa, you will see that when that victim complained about Mussa to then St. Francis Prep principal Richard McCann, Mussa was transferred to another school. That school was Xaverian High School, and he taught there for years.

St. Francis Prep and the Franciscans are culpable in perpetuating these horrors over decades. Please continue to donate your hard-earned dollars elsewhere, until they apologize to ALL THE VICTIMS, and make drastic policy changes in how they handle allegations of child sexual abuse and harassment.

If you think I can help you, please contact me through my personal website,