Probably anyone who I have met since I left Maristas in 1984 knows that it is not a long stretch for me to be vocal about the pedophile that we had to suffer as a teacher back then.
Throughout the years my attitude towards all those events has been changing constantly, maybe evolving, just like I did. A good chunk of that process is in a text that I wrote about seven years ago with which I intended to do (well, I wanted someone to do) some kind of “spoken word” show, but in the end the text has served to quite other purpose.
It has already been read by a lot of people, and it is in some way the “visiting card” I have been using to spread around the story of the sexual abuses I witnessed and specially the victims. In some cases it was a way for them to face the facts, choose who they want to talk to, and eventually talk about what they witnessed. Or maybe not. Leaving everything as it was has been the main option for 40 years now. That is an easy wagon to jump in.
From time to time I have been visiting the Maristas Guadalajara website and I don’t exactly know why. I don’t have any relation to them, and I have never been to any alumnii meeting, or to the yearly school “party” (which is June 6, the Maristas too have a D Day to commemorate, how delightful). In one of those visits to the website I found that a UK entity gave the school the “Keeping Children Safe” certification. At first I laughed loud because black humor I still have plenty, you see, but then I got quite angry, so I contacted them. And with contacting a so called “group for protection of the underage” Maristas Ibérica (he Spanish wide Maristas institution) and “Keeping Children Safe” starts a chain of events that is not over yet.
First contact with “Protection of the minor” by Maristas Ibérica. There were emails back and forth until October of the same year.
A few days after the first contact the person in charge of this group told me that they wanted to meet me in person mostly (but not only) to apologize on behalf of the institution for the damage caused. I told him that he is not the one to apologize neither I am the one to forgive. The god damn Judeo-Christian trap of guilt and remission-through-forgiveness of the victim is still well alive in certain places.
The plan of this group seems to be (always according to their own words, and I am quoting now):
– Talk to Brother Antonio Tejedor
– Investigate both in Guadalajara and in other places where this brother has passed.
I even sent to them class photos to provide some context. The head of the group told me that they would show the photos to their “brother.” I took that as a (very dark) joke, because what a sick idea it is to show photos of their alleged victims to a rapist unless you are a police officer and you are in an interrogation room. But what do I know.
By mid-October and after asking them insistently (and them ignoring me) they told me that their investigation was stuck until they could have access to at least one victim that would contact them.
He mailed me a letter from the Group for me to share it in a WhatsApp group formed by former students. This group is a mixture of different flavors of Catholic extremists, militants and supporters of different far right organizations, and a lot of very silent people that leave this extremists do their extremist thing. Needless to say, most if not all of them are witnesses like I was of the SYSTEMATIC sexual abuse many of our school mates endured. When I shared this letter I offered them the chance to talk to a specialized “Marist Brother” rather than talking to me about this, given that I was some kind of church burner extremist to their eyes. I shared the letter and left the group because it was a bit too much for my taste to be exposed to all the filth they constantly share, but I don’t think the letter inspired them great confidence.
Mail to Keeping The Children Safe.
Sarah Blackmore, CEO of Keeping Children Safe sent me an email full of commitment, flamboyant words, and very long phrases; she asked me for permission to share my message, and if I wanted to remain anonymous; It made very clear that of course these things are taken with all seriousness. I have contacted five times since then (both the CEO and the organization itself) and I am still waiting for a follow up.
On October 28, I give my testimony to an investigator from the Office of the Ombudsman who works on the independent commission in charge of preparing a report on complaints of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and the role of public authorities. This mission has been entrusted to it by the Spanish Parliament.
Something very interesting is that periodically this working group shares information with the Vatican, which in turn contacts the dioceses and religious orders to investigate the cases.
The newspaper El País publishes a report of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church where finally Antonio Tejedor Mingo aka El Morsa is mentioned by name. My full name (and mug) is there too, together with my testimony, together with the testimony of one of his victims, in this case under an alias.
The very same day the director of the school released a public letter with the following text:
I am writing to inform you about a news piece that has been published in the newspaper El País today in the morning, in which a Marista brother is accused of sexual abuse of minors in the 80s in our center. Since we have had knowledge, we have opened an investigation to clarify the events that occurred. In our institution, when we have knowledge of such a case, precautionary measures are taken and people subject to an investigation are separated from any activity with minors.
From the Marista Champagnat school in Guadalajara and the Iberian Maristas province we apologize to the victims for not having been able to protect them, and we manifest our condemnation of these painful facts. Victims are our priority and we are available for everything they need.
Since 2011, in our center there are some protection policies that have launched prevention, intervention and awareness actions. At the moment we have a minor protection team whose objective is to guarantee the protection of our children and young people.
If you are or have been subject to abuse, wether they have prescribed or not, or you have witnessed that a minor has been abused, you can contact the minor protection team through the following address: email@example.com
For any issue, you can contact me through the following email:
Guadalajara, December 16, 2022
Thanks for your time, I am at your disposal.
Ángel de las Heras Cuenca
The Guadalajara City Council (PSOE, socialdemocrats) grants in November 2022 the certification “Advanced level of child promotion and care” to Maristas Guadalajara. For greater scorn, the City Council gave them a space of importance for the ceremony itself. “You are our future,” said the mayor of Guadalajara to the students present.
I get in touch with the City of Guadalajara and send links to all articles out of the press about Antonio Tejedor Mingo aka El Morsa, both in the local and national press. I send information also to the mayor’s cabinet and the Municipal Group of PSOE. Five months later I’m still waiting for any answer from any of them.
This message was sent not only to the Guadalajara City Council but also to the following addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
and of course to the of the Investigative Team of El País (firstname.lastname@example.org) working with this cases, and a local media email@example.com, which did actually answered me, although they ended up taking the institution word for good (Blessed innocenc !) and that was it, off they went to some other news.
I write this when July 2023 is finishing at last and I am trying to make a small balance of all this awful year of 2023.
Things that I will keep close to my heart
– Having recovered the contact (even better than I had at the time) with former schoolmates who were and are good people.
– The privileges are to be used (with common sense): I witnessed sexual abuse. I saw that abuse quite closely (it is always WAY too close) and I didn’t become a victim by sheer luck. The cheerleaders of the pedophile Antonio Tejedor Mingo aka “The Walrus” defended him and/or attacked me with arguments such as “I do not know why you speak up 40 years later, you had plenty of time to “do so, “you are after notoriety or money”, “this only seeks to undermine the institution and the Catholic Church”, or even worse.
My privilege is that I don’t care what they say, and they can hurt me, because they can’t tell me that if I was drunk, that it was my fault because my skirt was too short, or what the hell I was doing so late in dark alley. I speak up because I can, and therefore I have to speak up. There are many ways to tell the victims that they are not alone, and this is just one of them.
– When I can tell this story to the kids and children that have been part of my life and they ask me
“and what did you do?”
I will not have to sweat it and give them some bullshit like” it was a long time ago”, or “shit happens”, or my favorite “what are you going to do about it?”. I did what I could when I could, which is not enough because it is never enough, but you have to start somewhere. Since we cannot protect children from the past, at least we can try and protect the children from the future. Is it really necessary to state the obvious? It seems so!
– Luckily I was in therapy before all this shit festival began; the tools that I have acquired are some of the resources that allow me to cope with this and other miseries that have taken place in my life during the last year. Without this resource, the truth is that I do not know how I would have dealt with this crap over and over and over and over and over again. It is a rather lonely job, wether you want it or not. Pieces and more pieces of the puzzle falling into place. Tell the stories again and again and process them. Listen to the stories of others. We are HUNDREDS who have something to tell about that “man” in that school alone, but Antonio Tejedor Mingo aka El Morsa has been active for over 4 decades, until last month. If he has been separated from all his functions for real, which is still to be proved.
– When it seems that I can’t deal with more bullshit, more lies, and more evil, it turns out that I can! The show must go on. I guess.
Shit that I take with me (assuming that it will be useful in some way, even if it as fertilizer)
– To verify that in 2023 the multiple tentacles of the Spanish Catholic Church are full of little shitty men who are always ready to ignore the facts, turn a blind eye and shut up when it is their turn, so they can keep their little positions, chairs, and job titles. And of course there is a huge amount of pedophiles and collaborators within, that somebody moves around, hide, and protect until they die comfortably in their beds with their reputation intact on most cases.
– Bishops are the ones who move around the priests from one place to the next, but the members of religious orders are under the authority of their orders. And all of them under Vatican authority, who has reformed the clerical law to force them to investigate all the complaints; but I suppose that as the current Pope is (for them) some kind of Che Guevara it is not that across the Catholic Church they seem to be very afraid of receiving pressure from their highest authority.
– The worst of this process (by a very long shot) has been the attitude of many of my former classmates. Some claimed they do not remember what they ate yesterday, so how could they remember what happened 40 years ago. Others put the school, the Maristas institution, the Catholic religion and the very existence of Spain in a single bag, and can’t see any difference between talking about this and, say I, put nuns against a wall and shoot them, or set a cathedral on fire and dance around to celebrate it. In this WhatsApp channel that I have mentioned before I had the privilege of treating in public and privately with abject worms capable of having defended Antonio Tejedor Mingo aka The Walrus as a beautiful person who they should have payed much more attention to because their lives would have been much better better. In his sin is his penance (I speak in his same terms of poorly ventilated church back rooms because I studied among them and I know what kind of shit they have for brains): every time they talked me down, talked shit about me or defended that unpunished sexual predator they dug a little deeper into the wounds of a few victims that happen to be members of that WhatsApp group too, and were reading all that filth in silence.
– The loneliness that comes with the territory, most of the time, that you feel when dealing with this kind of thing.
– The “videos inside my head”, in loop, with memories I always had, and memories that I forgot I had, and I got back. Pieces and more pieces of the puzzle that fall into place. To tell all the stories over and over again. To listen to the stories of others. Yes, this is also positive, but at the same time it is a mountain of shit the size of a tank, let me tell you that. I would (really, really, REALLY!) prefer to be thinking about other things, about anything else. But sometimes I have no choice but to think about this.