“People like to say Chris this was done 30 years ago,” said Chris Templeton. “I’m struggling because to me it wasn’t done 30 years ago I’ve just started living this 18 months ago.”
“I don’t think any of us could have survived that,” says an emotional Amy Cox, Chris Templeton’s sister. “I don’t know how many people can make it through life and tell their story like him.”
Chris’ four brothers and sisters lived with him when the abuse went on.. and are living through it with him now that he remembers it all.
“You never ever ever would have known anything like that the way he treated us,” said Lauren Zeigler, Chris’ Sister. “He did everything for us and our kids now.”
“We shared a bedroom..” said a very emotional Steven Templeton,Chris’ Brother.
“That’s whats so hard.they were right there within 3 feet from each other in twin beds,” said Amy Cox. “I wish we could have helped him. I wish we could have beat the daylights out of the man.”
Father Wayland Brown was only at St James a short time, but documents used in Chris Templeton’s civil case shows he shouldn’t have been at the school at all.
As early as 1974, clergy in the area had “serious reservations” expressed to then Bishop Lassard about allowing Wayland Brown to even become a priest.
Two years later, in 1976, a letter talks about Brown’s “problem”, asking if its “a thing of the past.”
“You have an institution who’s charge is to protect and to love and to nurture our children,” said Rex Templeton Jr, Chris’ Brother. “They failed to meet that charge. They were complicit in what happened.”
“Its heartbreaking,” said an emotional Beverly Templeton, Chris’ Mother. “I feel like I have every scar that he does. Im wearing every one of them. to think it could happen right here.”
Rex and Beverly Templeton sent all five kids to St James. They had a student at the school for 25 consecutive years.
Rex was the athletic coordinator and head of the schoolboard there, even as his son was being raped.
“He would take me out of class, take me to the rectory,” remembers Chris. “He would rape me, take me back to class. There were reports of it. And nobody was notified.”
“I can’t, i still can’t..I’m still having a hard time with it,” says and emotional Rex Templeton, Chris’s Father. “It betrayed me in a way of what they did.”
Betrayed by then Bishop Raymond Lassard. Documents show in 1986 Brown admitted to Lassard to having “indiscretions” with children. But nothing was done.
Then when Richmond County officers came looking for him on another child case, the Diocese chose to hide their priest instead of having him talk.
“They aren’t God..” said a tearful Rex Templeton, Jr. “They make mistakes The real tragedy is that those mistakes weren’t owned up to.”
Even in 2014, when Chris and his father went to talk to Bishop Gregory Hartmayer, the cover up continued.
“(Hartmayer said) The first thing i want y’all to do, I want you to forgive Wayland Brown because Wayland Brown has served time in prison. and has been forgiven. I said I can’t do that,” remembers Chris’s dad.
“He brings my dad back in, sits us down and says how much money can i give y’all to sign something that says you won’t repeat this when you walk out this door?’ remembers Chris.
“He said I know Chris has had some rehabs and if you can tell me how much you have paid that your insurance did not pay I would be happy to reimburse you today so we can just forget this,” said Rex Templeton. “I told Father Brannan and Bishop Hartmayer its time to go.”
Chris filed a civil lawsuit against the Savannah Diocese.
During depositions, Bishop Boland admitted to seven or eight claims brought against the church.
Five different cases where the church “paid off” victims of Father Brown so word wouldn’t get out.
Chris eventually settled for $4.5 million, but not before he made one request
“I don’t want your money,” said a defiant Chris. “I want you to write a letter to every parent that had a kid at St James school from 1987 to 1988 and say we know. Admit it, we know we had a priest that was abusing and sexually molesting children during this time.”
“He (Hartmayer) said I can’t do that. That’s just asking for lawsuits.”
Chris is now asking something else, for anyone to come forward. To allow him to use his money to help other victims. To stop other predatory priests.
“I wish he (Bishop Hartmayer) would stand right next to me and say I want to apologize to every one of you parishoners,” explains Chris. “This is what happened and we know it happened but we are not going to let it happen again. That’s all i want.”
Father Wayland Brown spent five years in prison in a plea deal, and admitted to molesting two boys in Maryland.
He has never been charged in Georgia, and the statute of limitations in Chris’ case has run out.
Templeton hopes to file charges against brown in South Carolina where he says he was raped multiple times, and where there is no statute of limitations on abuse.
The Savannah Diocese released this statement when the settlement was reached.
“The Diocese of Savannah continues to be vigilant in protecting and promoting the welfare of children. The Diocese has made substantial progress in conducting background checks and priests, deacons, religious, lay employees and volunteers in order to provide a safe environment for all children.”
But when News 3 asked specific questions about settlements and the money offered to Chris Templeton’s family, the Diocese had no further comment.
If you or someone you love has been abused, you can contact the Rape Crisis Center at (912)233-3000.
You can also reach out to SNAP, the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests.
You can contact Michael Corbett at (508)207-7418 or (508)207-7418 or Savannah@SNAPnetwork.org or Barbara Dorris of SNAP at (314)503-0003 and bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org
You can also log on to http://www.snapnetwork.org.