End Doesn’t Justify the Means

by Susan Matthews

Abused by a priest as a kid, Thomas (not his real name) spent too much of his adult life embroiled in a grand jury investigation. The grueling emotional process cut fresh wounds into his already scarred psyche. Suicide attempts and subsequent hospitalization made it clear that self preservation meant stepping away from it all. It was the right decision for him and his family. Thomas is working, married and surviving.

But now, his hard-won and tenuous stability is threatened. Lawyers prosecuting a civil case against the Philadelphia archdiocese on behalf of another victim asked him to testify. Thomas explained why he couldn’t – how it might cost him his life. They responded with a subpoena.

Cornered and forced to do something horrific as child, Thomas is once again cornered and being forced to do something terrifying as an adult. The subpoena compels him to appear in court or he’ll be held in contempt and fined. Yet, the price he’ll pay for testifying is far worse.

Civil and criminal cases have been the best means of gaining public awareness, preventing abuse and offering an opportunity for justice. But the end does not justify the means when a survivor is re-victimized.

What options does Thomas have in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas? Are there any lawyers willing to offer pro bono advice on fighting the subpoena?

UPDATE: A lawyer has reached out and is helping Thomas. Thank you for the outpouring of support and advice. Thomas and his family are deeply appreciative for all of you.

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10 thoughts on “End Doesn’t Justify the Means

  1. I hope he has a good therapist to support him through it, and, that he has had the opportunity to work with one in the past to deal with this trauma. As an LCSW in Oregon, now retired, I’ve seen it work so well, especially the process called EMDR. Eve

  2. There might be other victims testifying. For Thomas, the dilemna is being served the subpeona and being forced to go when the legal route was not a road he wanted to be part of and we all know that everyone finds there own path in healing. There is a clock ticking on trying to help him with the subpeona dilemna.

  3. I am not a lawyer but email the Judge directly and also have counselor write a letter why it would be damaging to the survivor. Put the case number on it. Most emails get screened and then forward to the Judge.

  4. As I said I am not a lawyer and best to check w a lawyer to know your rights but Judges in my experience read their emails.

  5. Maybe the Bishop of the Philly Archdiocese will step up to the plate and just tell the truth. I know that a long shot, but I believe in miracles. For now, I say a prayer for the survivor. It’s what I do on the night shift.

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