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Survivor: Why Isn't My Abuser On Seattle Archdiocese's List?

Steve O'Connor, a former police officer, was raped by his seventh grade teacher as a student at St. Benedict’s School.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery
Steve O'Connor, a former police officer, was raped by his seventh grade teacher as a student at St. Benedict’s School. ";

Steve O’Connor was 63 when he told his full story – to a jury in King County.

"When Dan Adamson came to my house and I’m 12 years old, he says, 'I’ve selected Steve as my special boy,'" he said.

Adamson was O’Connor’s seventh grade teacher at St. Benedict School in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. And for two years, he raped O’Connor routinely at school, in motels and in a basement room O’Connor calls the "torture chamber."

He says he tried to tell his story back then.

O’Connor: "I told a lot of people. The principal of Dominican nuns, Sister Marie. Father Conrad, the pastor. My parents. My brother. The emergency room physician at the University of Washington hospital when I was injured by this person. This was wide out in the open."

But he says people called him a liar. And told him he’d go to hell. So, he bottled it up. Ran off to serve in Vietnam, became a police officer, raised four kids.

Then, a class reunion at St. Benedict’s a few years back shook loose a fury. He filed a lawsuit against the people he says knew about the abuse and did nothing. The jury found the abuse was real and awarded him $8 million.

But when the Archdiocese of Seattle recently published a list of 77 known child abusers in Western Washington, Adamson was left off. And others.

Pfau: “Principals, vice principals, teachers.”

That’s Michael Pfau, O’Connor’s attorney. He calls the current list a good first step, but more is needed.

Pfau: "A complete list of everyone the Archdiocese employed, and then a list or the files that show who enabled this to happen, and how it happened is critical."

Listen: Steve O'Connor tells his heartbreaking story of abuse on KUOW's The Record.

[asset-audio[{"description": "", "fid": "123728", "uri": "public://201601/RECORD_20160126_CATHOLICABUSE_0.mp3"}]]A spokesman for the Archdiocese says the list they published is limited to the names of clergy and members of religious orders.

The archbishop has apologized and vowed to bring more transparency and accountability to this issue. As for O’Connor, he hopes his story encourages victims to speak out and for parents to stay vigilant.

O’Connor: “If you see something wrong, start asking questions. And never, never let your children out of your sight.”

Because of his past, O'Connor found it tough to hug his kids. They never sat on his lap. But he was the ever-present chaperone at their school dances and field trips. He was always their bodyguard.

Year started with KUOW: 2006