RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An abuse survivor is speaking out after several priests with ties to Richmond were named in an abuse investigation by the Maryland Attorney General.
In April, the Maryland Attorney General released the findings of a four-year investigation into sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The investigation documented abuse of at least 600 children by 156 priests, deacons and other leaders within the Baltimore archdiocese between the 1940s and the early 2000s.
The four priests named in the investigation include Fathers John Bostwick, Francis Bourbon, Charles Jeffries Burton and Henry (John) O’Toole, all of whom served in the Richmond area at some point.
8News spoke with abuse survivor, Becky Iani, who said she was abused by Father William Reinecke between the ages of 8 and 12 years old.
Reinecke was one of several priests credibly accused by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington in 2019. He was not named in the Maryland abuse report.
Iani said she was groomed by Reinecke and then abused in her home and in the church.
“It’s almost like they have a playbook…I was made to feel special. And then he made my parents feel comfortable,” Iani. said. “I was taught as a young child that priests are sent by God. I mean, they are God’s representatives here on Earth. So wouldn’t you feel comfortable with God?”
Although 600 abuse victims were documented in the Maryland Attorney General’s report, there are believed to be many more.
Iani hopes that reports like the one from the Maryland Attorney General opens people’s eyes how to common abuse can be.
“The public and the parishioners in the pews…they like to think that, you know, there’s only a few priests. And I think it opens their eyes to the scope of the problem,” Iani said. “And I think that’s good because it makes them more aware, it makes them more vigilant about being careful with their children. How many other people have been victimized by these perpetrators that we may never know about?”
The Catholic Diocese of Richmond issued this statement on the matter:
The Diocese of Richmond was already aware of allegations made against Frs. John Bostwick, Francis C. Bourbon, S.J., and Charles Jeffries Burton, S.J. Please visit the Catholic Diocese of Richmond clergy list.
The diocese was not aware of any complaints made against Fr. Henry (John) O’Toole, until recently, as a result of the Maryland Attorney General report.
For all those who suffer from the pain of past abuse inflicted upon them by someone in authority, we continue to pray God will give them calm, courage, peace, and consolation.The Catholic Diocese of Richmond
The Maryland Attorney General’s full report can be found online.
If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse, resources are available from the “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” on the organization’s website.