A former priest in Mississippi who has confessed to molesting a 13-year-old boy in the 1970s while on a mission trip in Ireland won’t be prosecuted, despite admitting to the sexual abuse in a series of letters to the teen’s mother and a videotaped interview.
The letters, which were obtained by the Clarion Ledger, detail a correspondence between the teen’s mother and the Rev. Paul Madden that began in 1995 after the Catholic Diocese of Jackson gave the woman his address in Peru, where he started working in 2002 for the Diocese of Chimbote, according to church officials in Mississippi.
“I’m sure this letter will come as a surprise to you,” the boy’s mother wrote in October 1995. “I need some answers and you are one person who can respond with them.”
The woman, now 90, asked that she and her son not be identified. She told the newspaper that she first reported her son’s abuse to diocese officials in 1993, but never went to police.
“Paul, why did you do it? Why?” the letter continued. “I’m sure my son was not the only one abused in your twisted life. I have a lot of rage I need to get out. I have a lot of rage directed at you for the injustice done to my son and my family.”
In a handwritten response, Madden told the woman in November 1995 that he was “sorry for the hurt, rage and pain” she was experiencing, but stopped short of admitting the abuse outright.
“The diocese has assured me that they have offered you therapy and that you have accepted that offer,” Madden replied. “They have also reached out to your son [redacted] emotionally, spiritually and financially. While these efforts do not take away from your pain they may be a small step on that journey. I can only assure you that I will continue to pray for you that you may continue the process of recovery.”
Several months later, the boy’s mother said she wanted Madden to show “some remorse” by offering a personal apology, which Madden provided more than six years later in June 2002.
“Until the day that I die I will continue to seek God’s forgiveness for my actions against your son,” Madden wrote, according to the Clarion Ledger. “I will continue to try my best to make up for my evil actions by making every efford [sic] to perform good deeds. This is a cross that I bear in a small efford [sic] to try to make up for my misdeeds.”
The boy’s mother did not respond to Madden’s letter. He was among clergy members identified in a list released by the Diocese of Jackson last week as those “credibly accused” of sexual abuse, but he won’t be prosecuted in Mississippi since the abuse occurred overseas, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office told the newspaper.
Madden, who has since retired in Peru, could not be reached for comment, according to the report. In 2015, GlobalPost tracked him down to Puerto Huarmey, a tiny fishing village in central Peru, where the church’s second-in-command said he was surprised to learn of Madden’s past.
Vicar General Juan Roger Rodriguez Ruiz later told the outlet that Madden was “one of the family” at the Diocese of Chimbote.
“His case was already judged,” said Ruiz, adding that the statute of limitations in the case had passed, which is why he was welcome at the diocese.
Madden, for his part, flatly admitted to the abuse, saying “something happened” while he was intoxicated.
“Something happened, I was drunk,” Madden told GlobalPost in 2015. “And I had never drank before in my life, it was the first time ever. And I woke up in the middle of the night, and yeah, something happened.”
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