23 September 1997
"You seemed distracted," Dr. Harris said. I was sitting in her office, having stopped in to discuss the therapy groups with her. I had taken to wearing street clothes to avoid notice for my cassock, ever since the locals had grown concerned about a priest sniffing around. I was already driven out of town once, I knew I was on borrowed time at this point. It was concerning how much Dr. Harris would know of me, if she was not on my side; but I had to find out. "Almost as if you weren't really there for therapy." I leaned forward in my chair.
"Is that your professional opinion?"
"You know, my first thought was press. Figured I'd have to confront someone about what they are and aren't allowed to publish from confidential gatherings. But then you showed up here. Problem is, I know everyone at the local paper, and neither television nor radio around here tends to hire someone with a European accent."
"It's my job to know people. So what's your interest in our groups?" I paused, trying to read her face. She was giving nothing away. Finally, I sat up and straightened my shirt.
"I wasn't. Not at first. I had reason to suspect someone was using your groups for their own agenda, an agenda that I happen to be investigating."
"There are a lot of hurting people around here. If I can help them in any way while I'm here, I would like to."
"While you're here."
"You must understand, my duties-"
"Duties to who? Who do you work for?"
"I'm a Roman Catholic priest." She took a deep breath in through her nose as she leaned back, and her eye twitched just a bit. "But my job is primarily in dealing with heresies and threats to the Church."
"My concern at the moment is a specific body that has violent aims toward the Vatican and has already killed one priest and maimed another. But I am of the opinion that abusive priests are a distinct, and much more real than I knew, threat to the Church as well."
"I'm sorry, did you say killed?" She asked, leaning forward and resting her hands on her desk.
"There are dark forces at work around here, doctor. And I fear your groups are being used as recruiting tools aimed at the most angry victims of church abuse."
"You're concerned about Mr. Withenow."
"The other observer at the meeting?" She nodded. "Yes."
"He's my sponsor. Or more of a liaison, I suppose. Works with a special interest group. He does gather some vague information, more statistical than anything, to bolster their lobbying and lawsuits. This is all covered in the release form. In exchange, they fund the groups."
"He seemed a bit more proactive than that after the meeting."
"Did you witness something?"
"I'm still investigating that."
"Well then. Father, I appreciate your concern, and I assure you that if Mr. Withenow or his group are in any way connected with the things you're investigating I will immediately cut ties and willingly turn over anything that helps hold them accountable. But until you have evidence to support that claim, I must ask that you let me help these people in peace." I nodded and began to leave, but stopped before opening the door.
"When is your next group meeting?"
"Doesn't matter. I would thank you to not be there." I gave a vague sound of affirmation and left.
Evidence compiled for use during the trial of Father Benedict de Monte.