ILLINOIS (WFIE) -Larry Antonsen was 16-years old and on a church trip in Wisconsin, when he said he was molested by his priest in a motel room.
“Frozen. I couldn’t move. I was just paralyzed. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know where to go,” said Antonsen.
It was a night he wanted so badly to forget.
“I completely blocked it out of my mind because I saw him many times after that for the next two years of school, I had him in school. Never once did any of these memories ever come back.”
It was 44 years later, on a church retreat, something triggered it.
“All these memories just came flooding, and I mean flooding back. I was kind of panic stricken. I didn’t know who to talk to or what to say.”
Larry contacted the church to report what happened. A week later, he was told that priest was in a nursing home and denied the allegation. He said the church offered to pay for two years of counseling.
“When he said that, my wife said, get out of my house and don’t ever come back. And that’s the last I’ve heard from anybody.”
Larry stopped going to church for about a year, until his wife convinced him not to lose faith.
“My Catholic faith is probably as good as it’s ever been, but I have a lot of issues with the Catholic church, and I don’t know that they’re ever going to go away unless they really do something to change.”
“Coming forward is the best thing that ever happened to me. To be able to share my story with people that love me, first of all. If I can share my story, maybe it will give somebody else courage to share theirs. If I would’ve kept this bottled up inside of me, I don’t know that I would be alive today.”
Larry said he contacted a lawyer to seek legal action, but was told none could be taken due to the statute of limitations. We have letters from the diocese that confirm their receipt of Larry’s report and their offer for counseling services.
14 News has contacted the diocese, asking if any disciplinary action was ever taken. We are waiting to hear back.
Larry volunteers with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (S.N.A.P.). He is encouraging survivors to reach out for help.