At least seven victims reported that Father John Joseph Mike Jr., who served several churches in the Baltimore area, physically abused them. But Mike was only held criminally accountable for one.
The teenage boys, who ranged in age from 13 and 17, were abused between 1975 and 1987.
The parents of one victim approached the archdiocese in April 1987 after learning Mike had put their son through a "test of torture," in which Mike removed the boy's clothes, tied his hands and his body to a tree and whipped him. The boy’s back and chest were cut so badly that he said he was “unable to take a shower.”
Although the parents noticed the welts on their son’s body and did not let him go back to Mike, they initially did not report the incident, hoping it was a one-time event.
However, the victim’s aunt told the boy’s mother she learned of similar abuse from Mike. Her 16-year-old son wrote a diary entry under the title “A tortured soul grows resentment,” and detailed how Mike tied him by the hands from a basketball backboard and whipped him “150 times.”
Mike "seemed to enjoy performing these actions," the boy wrote, and he made the teen swear to secrecy, saying his parents would die and go to hell if he told anyone.
After parents for both boys reported the abuse to the archdiocese, psychologists diagnosed Mike with "sadomasochistic perophilia [sic]."
Members of the archdiocese, whose names were redacted in the report, met up with an attorney and Mike, and he admitted to the abuse. He also admitted to abusing two other boys in Halethorpe, and said he spoke about it with a doctor at the time and with pastor Joseph Maskell, another abuser described in the report.
Both the doctor and Maskell said Mike was "acting out of stress" and did not recommend any treatment.
He later admitted to abusing four other individuals, claiming they were all adults at the time, and that the abuse had a "sexual dimension."
After Mike admitted his guilt, the archdiocese removed him of his duties as a priest and sent him to a five-day inpatient evaluation program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and then The Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. The latter institution diagnosed Mike with “sexual sadism,” the report said.
Even though the church had removed Mike’s faculties, he was allowed to baptize his nephew, perform a wedding ceremony and participate in a conference, the report said.
In June 1987, the archdiocese reported the abuse allegations to the Howard County State's Attorney's Office. The police charged him with one count of physical child abuse, assault and battery.
Six days later, another boy’s father came forward and said he saw his son carrying a railroad tie with Mike in a field. The priest and the boy then went into a gym for a half an hour, and it appeared the lights were off the entire time.
When the father asked his son what happened, the boy only said he and Mike were making the stations of the cross, the report said.
Even though the scenario sounded similar to other instances of abuse, the archdiocese told the boy’s parents that, after talking with their attorneys, “it seems it would not be a reportable incident since the only activity was carrying a log together from the woods to the gym,” the report said.
They said there might be something more reportable after the boy had undergone therapy.
In September 1987, Mike pleaded guilty to one count of physical child abuse; under the terms of the agreement, the charges of assault and battery were dropped.
Following a brief stint at a church in Connecticut, Mike tried to relocate to another parish. Auxiliary bishop Francis Murphy told Mike in 1988 he would not be placed in Baltimore for at least three years but the Archdiocese of Baltimore could help him find another church in a different state and would be open to the possibility of having him in Maryland again. But the assignments kept falling through.
Mike did not return to ministry, and several other victims came forward in the following years.