A 76-year-old British man recently opened up publicly about the alleged sexual abuse he said he suffered at the hands of a nun when he was a boy.
Reports of sexual abuse by priests have made headlines for decades, but Edward Hayes told the United Kingdom's Daily Express that he wants to help expose another group of victims by the Catholic Church.
“I went through hell for the majority of my life, trying to hide what happened to me," Hayes said. "Nobody should go through that.”
According to Hayes, Sister Conleth, then a 27-year-old nun, repeatedly raped him and became pregnant with his child while he was living in a group home in Lancashire, England, during the 1950s.
Hayes believes his case might be the "tip of the iceberg."
“They have acknowledged what happened, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a proper apology from those in positions of power. I think they are terrified about what else might emerge," he said.
Hayes has waived his right to anonymity to tell his story to the Daily Express, and hopes it will encourage other victims to confront their past.
Hayes said he was 10 when he was sent to live in the former John Reynolds Home in Lancashire, England, which was run by a Catholic congregation of nuns, the Express reported.
Things seemed to be going well after suffering neglect by his parents.
“It was nice to be somewhere warm, where I was eating food and having hot baths,” Hayes said. “My first years there created some great memories for me. I was a great student, I sang in the choir, I could read perfect Latin and was even playing football — being touted by the local football clubs.”
Conleth arrived at the home in 1953, and that's when Hayes said everything changed.
The nun asked her superiors to allow Hayes, who was 12 at the time, to work for her in the laundry room.
“I had barely started work there when it happened. I was still 12. She’d pull my trousers down. She’d push me to the floor and would lay on top of me," Hayes told the Express. “I hated doing it but she said she’d tell on me if I didn’t, that I’d been a bad boy and I’d be punished. She’d talk dirty to me. I would not let her kiss me. I thought babies were made by men kissing women.”
In April 1956, Conleth became pregnant and was sent back to Ireland, the paper said.
Hayes was placed in a hostel and later another group home. He has no idea what happened to the child he fathered.
Sister Conleth, whose real name was Bessie Veronica Lawler, has since died, according to the report.
Why is he telling his story now?
Hayes, who has two children and is divorced, said he has struggled throughout his life because of the abuse.
“I never thought I would hate people as much as I hate those in the Church for what they allowed to happen to me," Hayes told the Express.
He began confronting his past in 1998, but it wasn't until 2010 that things started to turn around.
Hayes connected with other survivors of Catholic Church abuse, including Noel Chardon.
“Victims of the Catholic Church are treated absolutely appalling. I know that first-hand," Chardon said, according to the Express. “They have no interest in self-empowerment, they don’t want victims to heal because they do not want to face up to what they did. They sent Edward up a cul-de-sac and dumped him there. They are waiting for people like Edward, like myself, like the Magdalene women, to die so they can say that this all happened such a long time ago and that they’re so very sorry.”
Now, Hayes has rebuilt the relationships with his children, grandchildren, and ex-wife.
In 2016, Hayes was offered £20,000 for his suffering, which was mostly used to pay his legal fees against the Catholic Church.
“I was pleased to bring them to account, but it was a pittance. I worked out they were giving me about 22p a day for my ordeal. But at least I made them acknowledge what they had done to me," Hayes said. “But now, as I speak out publicly about what happened to me, I think it will be the most satisfying of all. I might not be able to win, but I can get even.”