Brother Mueller's accusers detail the personal problems they've had
By PATRICK MALONE
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN, June 22, 2007
ST. LOUIS - The results of Brother Bill's twisted psychological experiments are in.
The boys who said William Mueller abused them in their teens contend they've been cheated out of many of life's simple pleasures, and are haunted by Mueller's actions.
In adulthood, life's most intimate moments, those times that husbands and wives cherish, are awkward at best for some of Mueller's accusers. Some have said their faith was rattled or lost. Others are short-tempered with the people who love them most. They've said it's difficult for them to trust anyone, particularly authority figures.
“I don't question my faith in Jesus Christ,” said Matt Giegling, who has filed a lawsuit accusing Mueller of abusing him while he attended St. Mary's High School in St. Louis during the early 1980s. “But I question my faith in priests and the Catholic Church.”
Some Mueller accusers are vacant. They have trouble feeling or expressing emotion.
“It kind of ripped me apart,” said Bryan Bacon, 37, who has filed a lawsuit alleging abuse by Mueller at St. John Vianney High School in St. Louis during the mid-1980s. “I had always been somewhat emotionally vacant, but tried to be a good dad, a good husband. But I was a workaholic. I numbed myself through other outlets. I had to stop and really make myself feel what was going on. One of the things I've had to deal with was that I had just been sort of a shell for all those years.”
Dr. Stephen Peterson, a psychiatrist who Bacon has retained as an expert witness for his lawsuit, said in court documents that a variety of psychological disorders can result from sexual abuse.
“The most common psychiatric disorders experienced by sex abuse victims are post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, illicit drug or alcohol dependency, difficulties experiencing or expressing emotions, and maladaptive sexual habits as well as combinations of these difficulties,” Peterson stated in his report.
Peterson also noted that it's not unusual for years, even decades, to pass before victims of sex abuse report what happened to them.
The Missouri Supreme Court recognized this phenomenon last year when it ruled that the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits over childhood sex abuse does not begin running until a victim understands the damage that the act has done to them. Before the ruling, victims of childhood sex abuse could not file lawsuits after their 31st birthdays.
When the first lawsuits were filed in Pueblo and St. Louis in September 2005, a flood of memories overcame many of Mueller's accusers. Many said they had believed the experiments Mueller subjected them to were legitimate, until they learned of other students who'd been through the same experiments, at times allegedly for Mueller's sexual gratification.
Giegling's brother was visiting from out of town when they read news of the accusations against Mueller in the fall of 2005.
“I read it and I said, ‘We need to talk,’ ” Giegling testified. “Those same things” had happened to him. Feelings of shame, embarrassment and having been violated followed.
“It did not begin until after I learned of the truth,” Giegling testified.
Mueller's accusers have reported that their conditions have worsened in some ways, and improved in others since they realized what happened to them.
Bacon had the epiphany during a counseling session in September 2004 that Mueller's behavior toward him in 1985 was inappropriate.
“It's so new to me,” said Bacon. “As I find out more information about Mueller and his history and what the church knew, it's even more overwhelming. The whole thing at times has been all-consuming.”
Most of Mueller's accusers have sought professional counseling to cope with what they said they've endured.
“The damage is still there. To some degree, it always will be,” Bacon said. “I guess being OK with myself, that's the big goal.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final installment in a six-part investigative series focusing on former Marianist Brother William Mueller. The men who accuse him of abusing them during their teens have said their lives were irreparably changed. Some of Mueller's accusers have filed lawsuits and police reports. The passage of time may have denied them justice.