By Yadira Betances firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — METHUEN — Holding a sign that read: “Sexual Abuse of little boys and girls is soul murder,” Bassam George Haddad stood outside St. Basil Seminary yesterday in a public demonstration against a priest he alleges sexually abused him as a teenager.
Haddad, 39, of Methuen, said he was molested by the Rev. Ross S. Frey at St. Joseph Parish in Lawrence between 1986 to 1991.
“It’s been tough. He ruined my life,” said Haddad, who said he was always angry and picked fights for no reason. He kept the abuse a secret from his mother and his wife of 11 years until recently.
“I couldn’t handle it any longer. When I told my wife, she was upset, then told me she understood why I am the way I am,” her said.
Frey, a member of the Melkite-Greek Catholic church was ordained in 1974. He was accused in the 1990s of sexually abusing at least 11 teenage boys during weekend retreats at the Salvatorian Center on the grounds of St. Basil in Methuen and at St. Joseph’s Parish in Lawrence. Frey was transferred to Lebanon in 1996 and later placed on leave.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who specializes in sexual abuse cases, said Haddad came to see him in April and he is one of several men he is representing who were allegedly abused by Frey.
“Where were his supervisors and why didn’t they do anything about him? He is a child molester without a conscience,” Garabedian said. They are demanding that Frey’s superiors order him back to Massachusetts to face the charges against him.
Attorney Camille Sarrouf, general counsel for the Diocese of Melkite-Catholic Church in Newton, said he had no idea who Haddad was, even though Garabedian sent them letters about the case .
“They are trying to keep the matter quiet, but the victims are not. Haddad should be proud of himself because he is empowering himself and others,” Garabedian said.
At St. Joseph Plains Center where area teenagers played basketball, Haddad said Frey watched him and others take showers, groped him or hit him on the buttocks. In the rectory, Frey would also grope Haddad or touch him inappropriately.
“All I kept thinking was ‘Why?’ I was scared and didn’t know what to do. I was brought up to trust priests and I wasn’t able to tell anybody,” he said.
Haddad said watching news reports of other sexual abuse triggered memories of his own case. He has learned to cope with the ordeal by taking anger management classes and seeing a therapist.
Yesterday, Haddad was accompanied by Robert M. Hoatson, co-founder and president of the New Jersey-based Road to Recovery, Inc., who drove from New Jersey to offer support.
Hoatson, a former priest who became disillusioned with the way sexual abuse cases were handled said 30s and 40s is when victims start talking about their experiences.
“It’s an age where they’re able to handle it,” he said.
Haddad acknowledged to being “a little embarrassed” standing on East Street holding the sign.
“But I’m not embarrassed enough to tell the truth. He (Frey) should be brought back and held accountable for what he did,” he said.
Haddad said last time he went to church was for the christening of his two boys ages 5 and 7.
“Why should I go after what happened? If I can’t trust the priest, who can I trust? I still believe in God, I still pray, but my faith has diminished,” Haddad said.