When is it all right to speak ill of the dead?

In last week's paper, I wrote about Charles L. Bailey's book, "In the Shadow of the Cross." It's a personal account of his abuse conducted by a Catholic priest named Father Thomas Neary who visited Bailey's home in the guise of training him for the priesthood. The book is also about the victim's recovery process, which is ongoing. It's a very powerful and disturbing book.

What I failed to mention in last week's article is that Rev. Neary, who died in 2001, also served mass in Skaneateles.

Bailey's book opens when he is a 10-year-old boy dealing with Rev. Neary who has come to the Bailey house on Onondaga Road in Camillus to begin preparation for Charles to enter the priesthood. Charles is the second son; his mother is thrilled the priest has looked on her son in this manner. She is a devout Catholic; two of her own sisters were nuns, they are now deceased.

Neary sodomizes the young boy and tells him this is what he will have to do to others who want to enter the priesthood. All of his wanton sexual behavior inflicted on the young Bailey was in the name of our lord. Often it was enacted in Charles' own bedroom in the shadow of the small crucifix that hung over Bailey's bed.

I heard of Bailey when he visited the Creekside Books and Coffee as an author. His is a difficult story. I certainly didn't want to go there. I initially turned away. But the book kept coming up in small circles in Skaneateles. When a dear friend of mine was visited by Bailey and told her late husband may have been one of Neary's victims I perked


Soon after her husband's premature demise a woman visited who was around her late husband's age. She said when she was a little girl and he a young boy she witnessed him being sexually assaulted by a priest at St. Mary's. This knowledge helped to answer some troubling questions about her husband's haunted nature.

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