SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A child victim of violent, sexual abuse at the hands of a Savannah priest is breaking his silence.
Last month, Chris Templeton's $4.5 million dollar settlement with the Catholic Diocese of Savannah was the most money awarded in a priest child abuse case in Georgia. Templeton sat down and gave an exclusive interview with WTOC about the 10 months of abuse, 30 years of secrets and what he calls his family's two years of personal torture.
Templeton's story started in 1987 at St. James Catholic Church. He was 13 years old, and at the time a priest by the name of Wayland Yoder Brown took a liking to him. That friendship crossed a line, a line Templeton tried to forget and put behind him until two years ago.
"He would take me over to South Carolina, into the woods, give me alcohol, let me drive his truck," said Templeton. "He started touching, and we would pray. The molestation just started. He had a way of putting fear in you, making you feel like you had no choice to do what you were doing."
Templeton is 43 years old now. For 28 years he repressed those memories of Brown and St. James Catholic School.
"Blocked it completely out," he said. "I learned a lot about that. repressed memory."
Two years ago, after years of depression and mood swings, Templeton hit rock bottom. His family knew something was wrong and sent him to Florida where an expert in child abuse made a breakthrough. Memories of his eighth grade school year rushed back and the priest who tortured him.
"The molestation got worse and got worse," Templeton said. "The last time he raped me was the day before I graduated eighth grade, and I haven't been back there since."
His family said they knew something was wrong all along but they didn't know what, but the molestation was not a surprise. They felt let down by themselves and their church.
"I still got Chris, but this is the most tragic thing I could ever go through," said Rex Templeton. "I'm having a very difficult time."
"I realize the one's today are not the ones who did it, but they did accept the responsibility and they are the bishop and the clergy and must clean up what the ones before them left them," said Beverly Templeton.
Chris Templeton said fighting the Catholic Diocese in court and reliving his past was taxing.
"Honestly, the way they treated me the last 18 months was as bad as the 50 instances I was molested when I was 13 years old," he said.
He's urging other victims of clergy abuse to follow his lead and break their silence.
"I beg you to get some help," he said. "It's a lonely feeling, but when you get the support it is out there."
If you are a victim or the family of a victim who is looking for support, the location of the meeting for the support group tonight at 7 .p.m is not being made public in order to protect the privacy of the participants, so those interested in attending or learning more should contact Michael Corbett at Savannah@SNAPnetwork.org or Barb Dorris at bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org for the location of the meeting.