40 Years Later, He's Still Haunted by Priest's Touch

By Steve Israel
Times Herald-Record [New York]
Downloaded May 30, 2003

The boy had a stomachache.

So in 1963, David Schultz went to see the nurse at a local camp. While she was spooning out Pepto-Bismol, a kindly priest walked into the room and asked David if he'd like to visit his family. Off they went to the priest's log cabin in the woods.

The family was the priest's cats. While David sat on the wood floor and played with the animals, the priest told the 7-year-old boy why his stomach ached: tight pants.

He told David to take off his pants. The priest fondled him.

A few days later, David's stomach again hurt. Again, he went to the nurse's office. Again, the priest took the boy to his cabin.

The priest raped the boy.

"Father, stop," David said in his small voice. "You're hurting me."

The priest didn't stop.

"This will be our secret," the priest said.

The next day, David felt worse than ever.

Again, he walked to the nurse's office. Again, the priest was waiting. Again, the priest raped David.

David told the priest to stop. That he would tell his mother what happened.

The priest's pale face turned red.

He grabbed a cat and snapped its neck. He hung it.

"This is what will happen to you if you tell," the priest told David. "I know where you live and where you go to school."

That priest not only killed a cat, he killed David Schultz's life.

David was so afraid the priest would find him, he ran straight home from school every day. Even though he was a big Cincinnati Reds fan with a new Johnny Bench glove, he wouldn't stay outside long enough to use it.

He stood in the shower for an hour at a time, scrubbing and scrubbing to make himself clean.

The priest even haunted David when he was sleeping. Night after night, David woke up screaming. He was sure he had seen the priest's piercing blue eyes in the window.

David was so scared and ashamed, he didn't tell anyone about the priest for more than 30 years. Not the therapists he had to see. Not his parents. Not his brother. He never even learned the priest's name.

All of which is "absolutely" common for children who've been terrified by sexual abuse, says Jim Potter, an Orange County clinical social worker who is an expert in the subject.

Then, eight years ago, when David was 39, he told a psychiatrist.

Two years ago, when his older brother, Noel, was visiting him in Florida, David stuttered out his tale of terror. A priest had raped him in camp, he said. "Father" had killed a cat - and threatened to do the same to him.

David, then 45, was still afraid that the priest would find him and his parents. They live together in a senior citizens complex in Florida.

Noel Schultz felt his stomach turn. He didn't know what to do.

But he did know he was his brother's keeper.

He had to do something to help David. He had to overcome his guilt for not seeing that something was wrong with his brother. Sure, David got straight As in school at SUNY Buffalo. And yes, he remembered everyone's birthday. But David only held a job for one year of his life.

Noel thought he would call the Catholic Church. But he began reading about cover-ups of sexual abuse by priests. He learned that many of the victims had emotional problems, like his brother. That they were so angry, confused or hurt, they couldn't function.

He also learned that the church had often ignored complaints of the abuse. He did not trust the church - even though the Archdiocese now says that anyone with information about this or a similar incident should tell the district attorney or the Archdiocese.

So he called lawyers, psychologists and cops, looking for justice and treatment.

He discovered that the statute of limitations to prosecute had expired more than 20 years ago. Then, as news of the abuse scandal grew, the Archdiocese of New York sent a list of priests who had been accused of sexual abuse to the Westchester district attorney's office. David printed a letter detailing the abuse by "father." Noel sent it to the Westchester and Orange County district attorneys.

David was sexually abused so long ago, nothing could be done. That makes him like thousands of other victims across the country, according to David Cerulli, the co-director of the New York City chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests, or SNAP.

But Noel won't give up.

Tuesday, he drives to Albany to join other victims and families of sexual abuse who want to change the statute of limitations laws.

He'll meet with legislators. He'll speak at a public hearing. He'll march in a rally. He'll talk about what happened to David and explain why his brother isn't strong enough to speak for himself.

He'll say that the priest killed David's life.

David, now 48, is so depressed he cannot work. He wakes up at 11 a.m. every day. He eats lunch with his parents, watches a movie or a game show and goes shopping with them. Then he eats dinner, watches TV and goes to sleep in a room where the shelves are lined with medications and knickknacks like a plaster rabbit and a Cincinnati Reds bobblehead doll.

David cringes when he hears a raised voice. He's still afraid the priest will find him.

Noel is afraid of what will happen to David after his parents - ages 87 and 90 - die.

So he tries to help David - and other victims of sexual abuse. He refuses to bury the past.

Two weeks ago, on a gray spring day more than 40 years after David was abused, Noel drove to the wooded land where David went to camp.

Noel walks up a hill, past the long building that once was the site of the nurse's office. He sees a log cabin where his brother may have been raped.

He pulls out his cell phone and dials David - 1,000 miles away in Florida.

"It's very pretty there, isn't it," says David, as Noel walks past blooming yellow daffodils and budding trees.

"Yes, David, it is," Noel says. But his head is shaking "no."

Because David Schultz is only 95 percent certain of the identity of the priest, the priest's name can't be printed.

But the priest spent summers at David's camp. He worked with boys. When David saw a recent picture of the priest, he ran to the bathroom and got sick.


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