Don't Ask, Don't Tell

For 40 years, the Episcopal Church of Texas turned a blind eye to a priest who was sexually molesting male students.

All three say they've made relative peace with what they say — and what the diocese confirms — Tucker did to them. For them, the real abuse was the cover-up. Telling three boys who were violated not to tell anyone, not even their parents.

"I have no kind of feelings of anger towards Tucker," Evert says. "...In my mind, I can kind of understand that he has a sickness, you know....I have more anger towards Dr. Becker, who covered this thing up, and these people at diocese who want to just say, 'Gosh, we're sorry, but we don't have any money.'"

Perhaps, though, the plaintiffs are to blame for all of this. After all, if they had simply listened to Becker's admonition not to tell a soul, the diocese wouldn't be in this awful position of having to fight to save its money. And even in its apology for the whole mess, the diocese felt it necessary to point out that many Houston and Austin Episcopalians can't understand why grown men would complain about something that happened to them when they were kids. As the diocese states in its coda to the timeline of Tucker's abuse, "some have criticized the Diocese for pursuing these decades-old allegations."

Although the diocese states that Tucker (pictured circa 1968) abused boys at St. Stephen's in Austin, and possibly St. James in Houston, he has never been charged criminally.
Courtesy David Evert
Although the diocese states that Tucker (pictured circa 1968) abused boys at St. Stephen's in Austin, and possibly St. James in Houston, he has never been charged criminally.
As school chaplain, Tucker was an important part of graduation ceremonies, such as this one from 1968.
Courtesy David Evert
As school chaplain, Tucker was an important part of graduation ceremonies, such as this one from 1968.

Maybe all those critics have a point. If their grown children came to them in 2009 and said they had been molested by an Episcopalian priest in 1966, and the diocese knew about it for years and actively concealed the information, would these parents really expect the diocese to give them money? Would Bishop Doyle expect the diocese to pay if, 40 years from now, his two young daughters came to him with the same news? What would Wimberly tell his two children if they said the same thing?

"Our lawsuit is not about molestation," Haslanger says. "Our lawsuit is about the conspiracy of the school and the diocese to keep this quiet, and to have kept it quiet for 40 years. And their attempt right now to make it all seem like it's Tucker's fault, and none of theirs."

And he also says this: "We may have been molested by Tucker. But we were abused by the church and the school."

Editor's Note: In the interests of full disclosure. Houston Press Editor Margaret Downing and her family did attend the Reverend Tucker's church for two years in Houston. That was not at the time of the events described in this story.

craig.malisow@houstonpress.com

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