Friday Fictioneers: Tanner’s Plague

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson. Click photo to go to Rochelle’s prompt page.

“Father” Tanner, had a lovely wife, two wonderful daughters, and a future as church rector. Young, bright, athletic, and handsome; he inspired the congregation’s vibrant teen and Boy Scout groups. Eventually, he was ordained to the priesthood.

However, Tanner’s sexual relationships with teenage boys were discovered. He was defrocked, dismissed, and ordered to therapy, without legal action. Soon “cured,” he was again hired as Sexton and advisor to parish youth groups.

Thirty years, over 450 victims, and 2,500 counts of sexual assault later, Tanner was imprisoned, where at 67, he died of natural causes; shamed and disgraced, but never cured.


Click for link to other stories.

Look both ways.
Be alert for predators where least expected.
Never expect victims to confess.
Mind the gaps, remain skeptical, and verify if you trust.

53 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers: Tanner’s Plague

  1. Well…saw in your comment was true…but of course all too many times it has happened, over hundreds of years. Well done for putting it here. We must never forget and stamp it out.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bill, humans have a lot of answering to do for their acts upon the innocent. Let’s hope somewhere along the way the madness ends. I blame patriarchy first, institutions that allow men to continue evil acts unabated, but I also blame the choices of each individual monster involved in it. Blame doesn’t effect justice 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I need to finish my memoir, don’t I? Why do we think friends, family, and church people are not predatory? For the record, I grew up in the Catholic church around nuns and priests every day for years. Nothing. This guy was Episcopalian.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The myth is that monsters are strangers who hide in the bushes and jump out at their victims. Just the opposite is true. The perpetrators are almost always family members or friends or those in positions of authority over their victims.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. True enough. But, as in this case, they are skilled and talented manipulators. Like I said in the story, he was intelligent (academic scholarship), charming, good looking, friendly. The man was extremely likeable and did a lot of good things. He outsmarted the system for over 30 years. He was a perv, but a likeable one. And OMG! a man of the cloth.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A true horror story. I just realized that my jaw is clamped shut, my neck and shoulders tense, my right foot pumping up and down–s sure sign of great distress. And that you’ve done an excellent job.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Bill,
    Betrayals by those in society that hold positions of trust are particularly heinous. You drive that home with this story, the worse because it’s true.
    pax,
    dora

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Had one boy not told his father, and that father not complained to the justice system, and that justice system not taken action (finally), it would have continued. It went on for more than 30 years.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Stories like this are mind-numbingly horrific. Have you been following the Dr. Larry Nassar story? His abuse of hundreds of Olympic athletes not only went on for close to two decades but was ignored by top officials and the FBI until one of the girls (Rachel Delhollander) went to law school, took a law degree, and began taking legal action on her own!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Bill, this story is a reality for so many people who, years later can’t keep back the tears or pain when they relate the abuse they suffered at the hands of those who in positions of trust. Your story made me cringe but that’s because you did an excellent job telling it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. That is what repressed memories are for. It is important to recover, to have a normal life, to move on.
      The hard part of me is that these people go on for years, 30+ in this case. This guy was caught and had his life turned upside-down–destroyed in many ways. But they thought he was cured and they trusted him again, which was absolutely unnecessary. I don’t get it.

      Like

  6. As I was reading, I realised he was not Catholic, as he was married and had children. Here is that “lovely” proof that it is not only those who have vowed celibacy who are twisted and evil. It has been proven time and again that child molesters cannot be cured. To have had the courage to come forth and then see that it did nothing to protect further victims must have been beyond disheartening.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t recall the details. I was gone from there. But the first disclosure allegedly involved a car accident and the younger brother of my closest friend. I still do not know the truth. I have news clippings from the trial. I had to research to learn of his death in prison.
      I did not intend to start such a discussion with this story.
      The topic came up when I was discussing my 15 year old grandson with my daughter. He needs to feel safe to tell her when something is not right. I was able to provide a real life example that involved me. And no Catholic Priest ever bothered me in all those years as a practicing Catholic. 🙂 Sorry to go on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Don’t apologise. It’s great when a story creates a discussion – whether the subject is uplifting or not.
        It’s so important to let our children know they can safely share truths with us. My late husband was an alter boy who was abused by a Catholic priest. His mother didn’t believe him.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You nailed it, Dale. The man who ended this was the father of a boy who told him, and then subsequently called the police. Teens are easy targets for several reasons. One is that they are just sexually coming out. Second is that they often have difficult relationships with their parents.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. According to the news article I read, many of the sexual assaults occurred in the boys’ homes when the parents were home. WTF? But your point is spot on. Kids need to be able to trust their parents. That is a huge part of the solution.

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  7. Evil seeps in the cracks; when adults don’t believe children; went society won’t believe the possibilities; justice can truly be blind.
    My husband grew up in a very Catholic family/community in a parish where there were preditors in the disguise of teaching brothers. The evil was eventually brought into the hard light of retribution He escaped unscathed and un-scarred; he now wonders about the other kids in his class/church. BTW, he was an alter boy too.
    To say nothing of what such exposure does to small towns/parishes where the church ruled supreme . . .

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m so glad you wrote this. I think this and so many other cases of abuse, especially in a place that preaches about sin and is so obsessed with sexual morals, is the reason why so many people lose their faith and churches are empty.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t know if there is any good research on why so many people walk away from church. Some do because of bad experiences, for sure. But I think most have many other reasons. Thank you for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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