A sexual abuse survivor speaks out

March 5, 2010
By

John Ruch

‘Brother Tony’ in prison for JP crimes

“I’m a 38-year-old person, and my life has been riddled with drug abuse and crime directly related to what happened to me as a kid,” said Scott Kimball in his Southie accent, talking on the phone from his new home in New Hampshire. “It seems like my past somehow always becomes my future.”

What happened to Kimball is that, at age 13, he was sent to Jamaica Plain’s Nazareth Child Care Center and met Brother Edward Anthony Holmes.

“Brother Tony” was a child rapist who is now in prison for sexually molesting three children. Those abuse survivors include Kimball, who told his story of pain, crime and quest for redemption for the first time publicly to the Gazette.

Holmes pleaded guilty in 2008 to raping Kimball. Since then, Kimball and his attorney—the famous abuse-survivor advocate Mitchell Garabedian—have been seeking a financial settlement and apology from Roman Catholic Church organizations involved in the operation of the now defunct Nazareth: the Archdiocese of Boston, which ran the facility, and the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, where Holmes was a lay brother.

There was no response of any kind, Garabedian said, until last week, when the Boston Archdiocese finally reached out a few days after being contacted about the case by the Gazette.

“This is the first time I’ve heard from the Archdiocese on this matter,” Garabedian said of a standard sexual abuse investigation questionnaire he said he received last week. “I just think this was sent in response to [the Gazette’s] call.”

Archdiocese spokesperson Kelly Lynch said she could not comment on anything specific about Kimball’s case due to privacy and legal concerns.

“We continue to hold in our thoughts and prayers any victims of former Sacred Heart Brother Edward Holmes,” Lynch wrote in a statement to the Gazette. “We encourage any such persons in need of assistance to contact our Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach.”

“In terms of the legal process,” Lynch added, “the Archdiocese reiterates its commitment to conducting discussions with individual survivors in a respectful way to achieve a resolution of the pending claims.”

Joseph Cavanagh Jr., an attorney representing the Congregation based in Fairhaven, Mass., said the religious order never supervised Holmes directly and was unaware of his sexual crimes until long after they happened.

“We wish we knew what he was doing” so he could have been stopped, Cavanagh told the Gazette. “From our point of view…certainly [Congregation officials] feel very badly as a result of anyone who went through anything like that.”

Holmes preyed on at least two other young boys at Nazareth—whose site is now the Showa Boston Institute for Language and Culture on Moss Hill—in the 1970s and ’80s, both of whom he repeatedly raped for years. Holmes was convicted in those cases in 2006 and earned a five-year prison sentence. Those survivors remain anonymous. Garabedian said he has won settlements for other survivors of abuse at Nazareth.

“Mr. Kimball should be proud of coming forward and revealing to the world the horrible acts committed by Brother Holmes and the painful emotions [he suffered] as a result,” Garabedian said. “Mr. Kimball is speaking out for many sexual abuse victims who do not yet have the strength to speak out for themselves.”

Kimball said he hopes for some type of acknowledgement from church officials. But most of all, he hopes to save those children who are at risk today.

“If you’re a kid and somebody is doing this, you need to let somebody know. Call the police. Tell your mother,” said Kimball, who kept the abuse secret for
years. “What happens to your life is unfathomable. It infects your personality.

“You end up locked up. You end up on drugs. You end up meeting people that you didn’t want to meet. You end up with a life you didn’t want to have.”

Anyone who believes a child may be a victim of sexual abuse or other abuse or neglect can contact the state’s 24-hour Child At Risk Hotline at 1-800-792-5200.

Kimball’s story

“I’m not saying my life would’ve been perfect. I grew up in the projects of South Boston,” said Kimball. That life included domestic troubles for his parents bad enough that the Department of Social Services sent him for brief stays at Nazareth.

But Kimball’s life changed dramatically on his second stint at Nazareth in 1983, where he met Holmes, a resident counselor.

Kimball recalled Holmes as “quiet, soft-spoken. But when you screwed up, he was stern and loud. If you swore, everything would stop, and he’d scream at the top of his lungs.”

Holmes—who was already six years into his prolonged molestation of another boy—had what he called a “playroom” for the children at Nazareth.

“He had one of the first computers,” Kimball said. “Late at night, he’d let kids who were behaving themselves play video games on his computer. That’s where it all started for me.”

“He’d come up behind me and gyrate his penis against my back,” Kimball said of Holmes.

Holmes didn’t get farther than that type of molestation at Nazareth, Kimball said, because the boy soon left to stay with his grandmother in Southie. But then Kimball decided to be polite.

“I called [Holmes] up…to apologize to him,” Kimball said. “I was a troublemaker in there.”

The apology got him an invitation to the Milton house where Holmes lived communally with other lay brothers. The confused and attention-hungry boy accepted, taking the train out to Holmes’s area.

Holmes orchestrated sex with Kimball multiples times over roughly two years in the living room of the house. Holmes also offered backrubs and gifts of money and cigarettes. Kimball was 13 years old when it began.

“I’m from South Boston and I’m supposed to be straight,” Kimball said, recalling his mindset at the time, which was already filling with pain and confusion. “I found myself in conflict with my sexuality.” It would be many years before he could realize that Holmes “used his authority to his advantage and exploited me.”

The sexual abuse ended when Kimball was 15 years old and Holmes abruptly moved, roughly when Nazareth shut down in 1985.

Kimball was left with a lesson: “I learned that by being nice to gay men, I could get what I want,” he said. Then he paused and said he knew the next part would be difficult for many people to hear.

At around age 16, “I found myself hanging out at the Greyhound bus station, turning tricks,” he said. “There are a lot of different reasons why I did it. At the beginning, it was [for] attention.”

“Meantime, I have a girlfriend, and she asks me where I’m getting money. Now I’m lying, conning and conniving,” he said.

Kimball still didn’t fully understand the impact of the sexual abuse, but he had not forgotten what Holmes had done. One night when he was around 18 or 19, Kimball was drinking heavily with one of his brothers and “blurted out” the truth. The two of them headed to Showa’s campus, intending to “raise hell” and smash out a few windows of the hated former Nazareth center. Security guards chased them off.

Five years into his street life, Kimball was arrested for prostitution. His name was in the newspaper. “Now I’m getting shunned by family and friends,” he recalled.

He tried to get a job, but had no work history and began lying on applications. When he did get jobs, he would quickly lose them because of “problems with authority figures.” And on top of that, he began to “run into people I turned tricks with.”

“[I was] trying to fix my life, but I found myself behind the eight ball,” he said. Shame filled him to the point of paranoia: “I don’t trust anybody. I [felt] like everybody could read my mind.”

He tried a “geographical cure”—moving to Florida. That didn’t work, either. He began a life of “petty crime,” including stealing cars. That got him in trouble with the law. So did a domestic violence incident that came when his partner unknowingly hit a sore spot.

“I assaulted my girlfriend because she called me a faggot,” he said.

Booze and cocaine became Kimball’s self-medicated treatments for his growing inner torment. “Throughout my life, I’ve been on drugs, pretty much,” he said.

In 2006, now in his 30s, Kimball was sitting in a Boston jail cell on a drug charge when he opened up a newspaper and read an article about Holmes’ arrest for molesting children.

He had never even suspected that Holmes had abused anyone else. “I thought because…I was special,” Kimball said. “He told me he loved me. He was telling other kids the same thing.”

Reading the article, he was consumed by shame and guilt. Soon Kimball found himself filing his own criminal complaint with the very prosecutors who had just put him away.

He said Suffolk County prosecutors believed that Holmes had molested him at Nazareth, but decided there was not enough evidence to convict. The case for statutory child rape in the Milton house was stronger, and Norfolk County prosecutors took on the case.

As the case dragged on, Kimball got in trouble again on a drug charge. “I was on the run in North Carolina” when Holmes decided to plead guilty, Kimball said.

At Holmes’s court hearing, Kimball was himself in handcuffs when he recited a victim’s impact statement he had written and memorized so he could deliver it directly. It was the first time he had laid eyes on Holmes since the abuse.

“I was looking for an apology,” Kimball said. “I was looking for a look [that said], ‘Scott, I set the stage for your life and for what has become of you.’ And I didn’t get it. He didn’t say a word.”

“There were a lot of different feelings every other minute,” Kimball said of the court experience. One of those thoughts was, “You told me you cared about me. And look what you did. “ Another thought was, “You’re so lucky they’ve got me in cuffs right now.”

Holmes pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory child rape, according to court records and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office. Holmes was sentenced to five years, but in such a way that it essentially added two years to his previous five-year sentence for his other crimes.

“I know he’s having a really hard time in there,” Kimball said of Holmes. “I feel OK with the sentence because I’ve been in jail and I know how [fellow prisoners] treat those people… Most of those guys [in prison] have been in foster homes as kids.”

While reading about Holmes’s arrest was a revelation, Kimball said, his chaotic life remained something of a mystery to himself until Garabedian had him do a mini-autobiography and a psychological evaluation. “All the dots started connecting,” Kimball said, describing how he suddenly realized that even something like not being able to hold down a job tied into the abuse.

He also has an extensive psychologist’s report on himself. “To see it on paper, this 30-page report…to see [the psychologist] breaking down how much damage was done—it was mind-blowing,” he said.

“I usually drink or do drugs after I read this stuff,” he said. “I tried to kill myself a couple times by overdosing, ironically on antidepressants.”

“There’s no such thing as closure,” Kimball said. But an apology from someone—anyone involved—would be nice, he added. Especially nice, he said, would have been an acknowledgment from Holmes that “I’m not an object of fantasy. I’m a person.”

Kimball served his time on his drug charge. His partly estranged sister in New Hampshire agreed to help him out. He moved there recently and managed to get on Social Security. He lives alone.

“I go to therapy,” he said. “I’m seeing a woman. We break up every other day.”

“I’m just trying to find my way through life.”

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