Survivors Project: Ken Kaczmarz's Story

Ken Kaczmarz was molested by a Catholic priest while serving as an altar boy as a child. The abuse happened, he said, between 1981 and 1982 starting at age 10. 

"He would take me into his office and place me on his lap and, um, basically dry hump me until he got himself off," Kaczmarz said. "And he did this numerous times." 

"If I decide now to really think about this, it will take about 5 minutes and I will be back in [name deleted] office, and I will be on his lap," he said. 

In 2002, the Boston Globe broke the story about priests in Boston abusing children. "I knew that at that point I had to come out and do something," he said. 

In 2003, Kaczmarz and another survivor filed a lawsuit against the priest, the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Augustinian Order. Eleven other survivors joined Ken's lawsuit. In 2006, the Archdiocese and the Augustinian Order settled with no admission of guilt. The settlement included: an undisclosed amount of cash, a demand that Augustinians run background checks on future employees and the construction of a memorial to survivors of priest sexual abuse.

The following is Kaczmarz's account in her own words and edited for clarity.


When I was a child, 10 years old, I was serially molested by a Catholic priest. I was a[n] altar boy, and this priest was able to manipulate when I would be there. He would arrange for me to be there early and then he would have access to me. 

He would take me into his office and place me on his lap and, um, basically dry hump me until he got himself off. And he did this numerous times.

If I decide now to really think about this, it will take about 5 minutes, and I will be back in [name deleted] office and I will be on his lap and he will be dry humping me. And I will feel very quickly, his beard against my face and I will very, here we go. And I will, I will feel him. And, and that's there forever.

Most men don't talk about what happened to them as a child until they are in their 30s. When you are 25 years old, you are still trying to figure out who you are, let alone have the courage to admit you were molested or raped as a child.

It's very difficult for a man to go tell the guys at the bar, "Hey, let me tell you about this guy that molested me when I was 10 years old." Guys don't want to talk about that.

What helped me was voicing what happened to me. I knew I had to deal with what happened to me. It was absorbing my life.

I have found that by talking about it helps. It helps a lot.

There are so many people out there whose lives are, have been destroyed over sexual abuse and rape that I feel it is my obligation by being able to talk about this to help those people.

And as soon as you talk and tell somebody what has happened to you – you will have the courage to tell more people about what happened to you. And as soon as you have the courage to talk about what happened, you will then have the ability to heal. And as soon as you have the ability to heal, then you can start putting your life back together.

My personal experience in organized therapy was interesting.

It helped me to talk it through. It helped quite a bit, to kinda piece things together in my head, you know. Why do I do these certain behaviors or have these certain tendencies in my life. And I highly recommend therapy. Like I said, I did it for a while, and it helps.

I have seen what sexual abuse can do to somebody. I have seen, you know, various people handle this differently; anger management issues, alcoholism, drug addiction, um, major issues with authority figures, not being able to hold a job, um, all sorts of issues. Everybody deals with it differently.

The worst way to deal with this is suicide.

I have talked with a mother of somebody who took his life because of the abuse that occurred to him. That was a very difficult day for me and I will remember it forever. And perhaps the conversation I had with her is the reason I am sitting her now is because I know that talking about this helps other.

Everybody has a different journey.

Everybody has a different way of dealing with it.

My journey was one of extreme anger.

I was abused in 1981-82 time frame. I was 10, 11, 12 years old.

I really blocked it out of my head between the time I was 10, 11, 12 and somewhere in the neighborhood of 1992, so 10 years. So in 1992 I was doing something and all of a sudden all of the memories came back.

I knew I needed to do something about it.

I went to the Augustinians and told them what happened. And at that time I was lied to.

They told me I was the only person that's ever accused this person um of, of, of being a pedophile.

I thought about doing something publicly when I was 22. My dad got angry that I was talking about doing something publicly and that made me go into my shell again.

So I didn't really talk to anybody from '92, '93 to clear through 2002. So 10 more years, I just held this in.

I realized that in 2002 when all of these survivors of, of, of – what was on TV was the, the perpetrators in Boston.

When those people started coming out I, you know, it really was was bothering me on a daily basis.

I knew that at that point I had to come out and do something.

I went to my first SNAP meeting. This is where I met another survivor of the same, of [beeped out name].

He was being manipulated by the Catholic Church to stay silent. He was being told that it didn't happen – his situation was being downplayed. Basically him and I are the ones that exposed him and helped many, many other people.

I knew that by filing a lawsuit, that that would do the most, and sure enough it did. Um, a lot of people were helped by it.

The fact that it put me out there… allowed hundreds of other people to, to heal because of the courage that, that I had to be able to talk about this and to, to work with other survivors and victims um, to get them to talk.

I pretty much put it away for a few years and then had the opportunity to start running marathons and Ironmans to be able to raise money for trafficked kids, who most of them are trafficked for sex.

In order to raise that kind of money I have to put myself out there … tell people exactly what can happen to you when you are sexually abused.

In doing that I am able to tug at people's hearts and they donate, um, which is half of the reason I do it. And the other half is, I keep telling my story, and as I tell my story more and more people, um, call me up and email me and they say "me too."

I think it is incredible. I do think it's incredible.

One of the things that upsets me about it is "women have courage to talk." No, no, no everybody has the courage to talk. Men are molested, men are raped. This is not a woman's thing this is a everybody's thing. All survivors, men women—whatever you are, if you were harmed you need to seek help.

If you're not a victim or a survivor and you are watching this and you find yourself in a position where somebody is talking to you about what happened to them, um, give that person the time they need and listen to them and pay attention. Don't be judgmental, don't criticize.

It's important that there's listeners out there because there are an incredible amount of men and women that have been sexually assaulted as children, as adolescents, as teenagers, as adults and as old people.

My journey was one of extreme anger that caused me to tell everybody, and the more I told people, the more I knew I was helping people. And now I realize that the more I talk, the more I help people, so I just keep talking. And I will probably talk about it until the day I die and perhaps I will continue to help people.

Survivors need to understand that this is a piece of you that is there forever. It will not go away.

So they are there forever and, uh, the question is "How do you choose to deal with it?"

You have to figure out how you are going to deal with it and, uh, and, and prepare yourself and arm yourself for the days when it comes at you, you know, be it a memory or be it somebody talking about it. You know arm yourself for those days. And uh, that's what it is all about. 

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