An Albuquerque man’s terrifying experience with a pedophile priest
Raped: Memories Of A Catholic Altar BoyDennis Domrzalski and Larry Monte Jr.
(Logan Square Press · $14.95)
Violence is a popular theme in American media, be it news, film or literature. Scores of people routinely die in PG-13 movies. Sexual violence, however, is nearly unspeakable.
That’s what is remarkable about Raped: Memories of a Catholic Altar Boy by former Alibi editor Dennis Domrzalski and Larry Monte Jr. It doesn’t look away.
The book follows the two years Monte was ferried around New Mexico and molested in cheap motel rooms by a priest, and how it affected his life decades ago and to this day. The authors pull no punches. Domrzalski and Monte use brutal terms to relay what happened to the teenaged Monte. I have a strong stomach, but reading this book made me physically ill at times. The scenes could be prurient if they weren’t the excruciating truth.
Monte describes in graphic detail the assaults perpetrated by the family priest—who was deranged, sometimes giving mass immediately following the assaults or saying the rosary on the way to the motel. The priest, who had been kicked out of a seminary back east for molesting children, developed ways of keeping Monte compliant. He would, for example, threaten to take Monte’s younger siblings on the weekend getaways. He once took Monte to a retreat for pedophile priests, as if to show him off to the others.
Domrzalski and Monte use brutal terms to relay what happened … I have a strong stomach … this book made me physically ill.
Raped also follows Monte long after the abuse, when he finds he’s unable to simply “move on.” He feels betrayed by the church that once inspired him to become a priest himself. It’s also no easy task to speak out about the Catholic Church, a powerful institution with an army of followers ready to defend it. Monte eventually won a lawsuit that exposed his assailant, but only after years of despair, alcohol and suicide attempts. You can’t help but commend Monte for telling his story.
Monte offers statistics regarding sexual abuse. Chapters often begin by quoting a priest who warned church authorities about abusive clergy (his concerns apparently went unheeded). Monte’s wife and therapist make appearances to offer their insights.
The writing style itself is repetitive, scattered, even frantic. In another autobiographical piece, this could come off as annoying or amateurish. But it works here. This is the story of a man who obviously suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. The narrative reveals the inner workings of a mind that is forced to relive what happened, over and over and over again. The pain never recedes and the anxiety he suffers is abundantly clear in the writing—especially when he describes the priest, who is, for lack of a better word, a monster; a man who tells his victim that God wants these horrific things to happen. It is, quite frankly, is just awful to read about. But this is a book that needed to be written.