Letter Found After Sexual Abuse Victim’s Suicide Points to Lasting Trauma

ChurchLeaders | 5/22/2019 | Staff
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The State of Colorado is following the lead of several other states that have opened investigations into the Catholic Church concerning allegations of sexual abuse committed at the hands of priests going back as far as 1950. Now, a news station in Denver is reporting that the announcement comes too late for one victim of such abuse. Stuart Saucke died by suicide in 1991. He left behind a letter to the priest that allegedly abused him, linking a debilitating and eventually fatal struggle with alcohol to the abuse he endured as a teenager.

“It’s been 24 years since you sexually molested me. I also have been an alcoholic for 24 years,” the letter addressed to former Priest Neil Hewitt reads.

Donna - Ballentine - Letter - Box - Mother

Donna Ballentine found the letter in a box of her late mother’s papers. Although the letter was not dated or signed, she recognized the handwriting as that of her late cousin, Saucke. According to the letter, Saucke had been manipulated by Hewitt through the use of alcohol.

Ballentine recalls Saucke had an extended battle with alcoholism. “I just wish that he could have come and spoke to somebody, but I know that the shame and hurt that he felt–he felt that he just could not at that time,” Ballantenine told 9Wants to Know. “And he probably was just trying to numb it through alcohol and whatever.”

Neil - Hewitt

Who Is Neil Hewitt?

Hewitt was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1962 and served under the Archdiocese of Denver until 1980. Hewitt had grown up in northeast Colorado and Nebraska. He graduated from high school in Fort Collins in 1954. Hewitt served at a handful of different churches in Colorado including assignments in Grand Lake, Sterling, Leadville, Denver, and Rangely.

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It was in Leadville that Saucke met Hewitt. In his letter, Saucke described Hewitt as “fun to be around.”...
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