A.L. – Chain of Sexual Abuse in the Legion of Christ

Editor?s Note: As of March 05, 2010 there has been no response from the Legion to the below letter:

Portstewart
BT55 7JJ
N. Ireland

14th December 2009

Dear Alvaro Corcuera,

I have been following very closely recent developments in the Legion of Christ regarding Marcial Maciel over the past few months, indeed years.

Recently former LC and Maciel victim,  Juan Jose Vaca, told me about your recent phone call with him. This has prompted me to write to you directly.

I was a Legionary for five years – two years in Dublin and three in Salamanca. In 2001 I made a complaint to Assistant Superior General, Fr. Luis Garza Medina, about the sexual misconduct of Fr. Eoghan Devlin LC (no longer a priest). I made this complaint with the assistance of the vicar general of my Diocese – Down and Connor.

The Legion?s response at this time to my detailed complaint of sexual abuse was inadequate and hurtful. The Legion of Christ simply asked Fr. Eoghan Devlin if what I said was true. Of course, he denied this, and the Legion simply believed him and asked me how could I come up with such a story.

I retreated into myself and continued to try and heal through counseling, provided by Faoiseamh, an Irish Charity for those abused by Clergy. This charity is funded by CORI – Conference of Religious in Ireland, and by some Catholic dioceses.

The fact that Fr. Eoghan Devlin LC – in spite of my serious complaint against him – was still allowed to exercise authority as a superior in Medellin, Colombia, S.A., as director of the senior and junior school there, as the head of the Regnum Christi juvenile section made me sick. I worried so much that he would continue to hurt other trusting young men.

In 2005 this led me to report my complaint again, but this time to the Irish Police. I was encouraged and assisted to do so by the Child Protection Services of the Dublin Archdiocese. This was a very big decision for me to make – the prospect of going to court, of having to tell publicly what happened to me etc. was very frightening. Nevertheless, I decided that I could not live with the fear that Eoghan Devlin would continue to abuse – that he got off with it.

Again the Legion of Christ’s response was inadequate. Fr. Luis Garza Medina phoned me within 24 hours of knowing that I had made my complaint to the police, and he told me on the phone that the Legion had never had a complaint of sexual abuse brought to them before my complaint, and that the Legion of Christ did not know how to behave appropriately.

I do not believe for one moment that the Legion of Christ had not had any complaints about sexual abuse brought to them. I know that Fr. Luis Medina Garza told me a bare-faced lie.

Further correspondence from the Legion by roving ombudsman,  Fr. Raymond Cosgrave, was also misleading and deceptive: the Legion invited me to speak with an independent person for the purposes of information gathering. The Legion mentioned the name of the person as Johanna Merry but failed to point out that Johanna Merry is usually referred to as Dr. Johanna Merry and is a psychologist. It also failed to mention that it was paying Dr. Merry.

When I found out this information, my mistrust of the Legion prompted me to reject these requests. Why would the Legion employ a psychologist for the purposes of information gathering and not disclose that this person is a psychologist? Why not, for example, appoint a notary or solicitor to gather the information? I had already provided the Legion with very detailed information; I was satisfied that they had more than enough information on which to act. Was the Legion trying to evaluate me psychologically without me knowing?

I had made the same detailed complaint to the police and local health services. Why did I need to make it again, in person, to the Legion when the Legion had rejected my complaint, when the Director General of the Legion, Fr. Marcial Maciel – a known child abuser – was still in charge of the Legion?

The Legion of Christ also rejected my many requests in my correspondence with you. I requested that you send me a copy of your protocol regarding your process upon receiving complaints about sexual abuse. By 2005 I know for a fact there were other cases of similar complaints. I felt that my correspondence to the Legion of Christ was unanswered and ignored.

I learned that in Medellin, Colombia, where Fr. Eoghan Devlin LC was then assigned, a letter had been sent by the directors of the male and female schools to all the families of the schools that they were not to believe any false rumours that were circulating, and that they should only accept the truth from the directors themselves. I know that Eoghan was removed from his ministry because of the police investigation, and I know that this fact was known to some families in Medellin. Families were told by the Legion that Eoghan had left to go home to visit his family, that there was illness in his family in Ireland.

The Legion and RC members in Colombia told lies about this situation to the families of the children in their care. Your duty was to make everyone know about my allegations so that other victims might have the courage to come forward, and for the Legion to offer full support to them.

I wonder why you covered up with lies the truth about Eoghan Devlin to the families in Medellin.

I learned that Eoghan left the priesthood and the Legion of Christ and, even though the department of public prosecution deemed that there was not enough evidence,  actually this was a relief for me. I found some closure in knowing that Eoghan was no longer working with children, nor could he be protected by the Legion.

Nevertheless I was worried that once again he lived in the same country as me – would I bump into him? Would he look for me? I learnt also that he was receiving a substantial monthly payment from the Legion of Christ. This angered me.

Going to the police and thereby removing Eoghan from ministry and taking him away from children really meant a lot to me. This helped me heal. It is unfortunate that I had to go the police in order for this to happen. I hoped that my initial complaint in 2001 would have done this. Indeed, if you had acted properly at that time, this part of my healing would have taken place sooner.

In my detailed complaint I made known my concerns about inter-generational abuse in the Legion. I will reiterate my concerns to you now, upon learning of a possible new generation of abusers in your institute.

In your phone call to Juan Jose Vaca you ask his forgiveness from Juan for the abuses perpetrated by Fr. Marcial against him and the others. You have not said this directly, but you imply that you acknowledge that Maciel sexually abused him and the others as children and young adults. If you believe this – I can only presume so as you have never said this – then you will share my concerns.

Here is how I see the chain of abuse:
Marcial Maciel sexually abused Fr. William (Guillermo) Izquierdo, who would later be Novice Master in Dublin,  when William  was a minor seminarian. Other victims of abuse are witnesses to this – they have told me this directly, first hand.
Guillermo Izquierdo went on to sexually abuse one of his Irish novices,  P. M.K, who also told me this first hand.
Guillermo Izquierdo was also sexually inappropriate with I. C., whom he asked to strip naked in his bedroom and wait on his kneeler for Fr. William to inspect him. This was given as a penance in confession. Again I.C. was brave enough to tell about this directly.

It turns out I.C. was with Eoghan Devlin in the Dublin novitiate under Fr. William (Guillermo) Izquierdo.

That is to say that Eoghan Devlin made his novitiate under a known sexual abuser, in an environment where sexual abuse of minors took place.

I am convinced that Eoghan Devlin was one of Fr. Izquierdo’s victims. This explains to me how he copied the abuse that Maciel subjected his victims to. Eoghan once mentioned to me that serial sex abuser Fr. Maciel treated Eoghan specially when he visited the LC in Dublin; which might lead us to believe that Fr. Maciel abused Eoghan as well…

Another Irish-born LC priest from our same generation has recently – months ago – been accused of posing highly sexually inappropriate questions to children and adolescents he worked with in the Instituto Irlandés in Mexico City. These detailed questions about sexual fantasy, about the size of the children’s penises etc. are an echo of the questions that Eoghan Devlin asked me in his process of preparing me – grooming me – for abuse. As I stated in my detailed complaint, Eoghan asked me questions such as these.

This recently accused Irish LC priest was a novice with me under Fr. Eoghan Devlin Novice Master.

This latest news re another possible sexual abuser from my generation has greatly upset me and caused me considerable anxiety.

I want you to know that my life has been interrupted greatly since I joined and subsequently left the Legion. I am still at counseling, still have nightmares, am still trying to understand the effects of sexual abuse on me and all my relationships.

I turned to other ex-legionaries for help and support, and found over and over again so many hurt people. The website www.exlegionaries.com was a great help and resource to me. When the Legion of Christ sued ReGAIN, INC in August 2007 to shut that discussion board down and send it into cyber oblivion, it was another blow. It is a great shame that you denied so many people a means to heal. In the light of recent developments and acknowledgment of Maciel’s plagiarism, I would hope you allow that  discussion board to be restored as it was originally and repay the legal costs to those affected.

I am angry, and it is so unfair that my life is still on hold. What do I have to do to heal? What do I need to change my life and live again? When will the Legion and Fr. Eoghan be a closed chapter in my past?

  • As a victim, I believe that the following will help me greatly:A sincere and detailed apology. An apology which acknowledges and names the wrongs done to me by the Legion. This must include an admission that I was abused and that my reporting of this abuse was mistreated by the Legion.
  • I believe that you should make a substantial financial contribution to the organisations that have paid for my counseling over the years. I have been fortunate enough in that I have received high quality and very helpful counseling for free since 2001. I am angered that the resources of charitable people and organisations are being used by me when I feel you should be paying for this.
  • I believe you should make financial restitution for the effect my abuse and the Legion’s response to my complaints have had on me and continue to have on me.

Alvaro, I too was a Legionary of Christ. I blindly and devotedly followed Our Founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel.  I believed his every word and held him to be a living Saint. I ate the scraps off his plate when I served him as guest waiter. I cried thinking about what sacrifices he made in his life.

I would have died for the Legion.

Like you, I have learned a different story about Fr. Marcial Maciel. I learned about his excessively luxurious lifestyle, about his sexual abuse, about his disregard for anyone around him, his drug use, his lying, his not writing his famous Letter and Psalter (Cartas, Salterio),  etc., and so much more.

Please believe me when I tell you that finding out the truth was a terribly painful experience for me. My whole world collapsed.

I do not want any of this pain any longer – I want you in the name of the Legion to respond adequately to my complaint of abuse and help me forget about the Legion and forget about what happened.

Give me resolution.

Hopefully,

A.L.

A.L.’s original testimony on Regain Website may be found here

(Article reviewed and edited by co-editor on February 20, 2020)

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