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Catholic Confessions Part 2: An abuse survivor’s story

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 6:01 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - In January, the Attorney General’s Office released the results of an 18-month-long investigation into child sexual abuse in North Dakota’s Catholic Dioceses.

The attorney general ruled that no priests could be charged as a result of the investigation, because the statute of limitations had run out.

Statutes of limitations are put into place to keep criminal charges based on evidence that hasn’t deteriorated over time, but for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, forgetting what happened to them doesn’t come easily.

Richard Jangula, a 63-year-old North Dakotan from Zeeland, said he was 18 years old when he was sexually assaulted by a priest.

Richard Jangula
Richard Jangula(KFYR)

“Forgiving people is pretty easy, but forgetting is impossible,” said Jangula.

In 1979, Jangula had run into Father Gregory Patejko at the Bismarck Airport after flying home from Colorado. Patejko was the priest at St. Andrew’s Church in Zeeland at the time, where Jangula’s family attended.

“He told me he’d give me a ride back home, and that’s when it happened. It is what it is, I guess now,” said Jangula.

He did not tell his family about the abuse when it happened.

“In the 70s, you couldn’t say anything. I mean, you could’ve, but nobody did. You’re ashamed of it, you know,” said Jangula.

Since the abuse, Jangula began to have many health issues as he entered his 20s, which he said he attributes to stress related to the incident.

“I had bleeding ulcers, I ended up in the hospital in Minot. I didn’t know how to handle it,” said Jangula.

Jangula said he reported his abuse to the Fargo Diocese in 1994, and settled with the Catholic Church for nearly $40,000 to help cover his extensive medical bills.

After speaking publicly about his abuse in the late 2000s, Jangula received pushback from fellow parishioners.

“I remember going to church and a little old man, I’m not going to say his name, he said to me ‘you should have kept your mouth shut, that was a priest.’ That’s the problem,” said Jangula.

Even after all he has been through, Jangula doesn’t place the blame on churches themselves.

“I don’t blame the church, I blame the Vatican. I really do, because they’ve known this crap all the time. I don’t hate nobody, but I wish they could understand the lives that they’ve destroyed,” said Jangula.

Still, despite all the darkness, decades later and now legally blind, Jangula says he has kept the faith.

“Forgetting is impossible, it is impossible, and sometimes, I think God wants you to remember things, so it doesn’t happen again,” said Jangula.

Jangula also credits his children and grandchildren for being the force that keeps him going.

The Fargo Diocese did not return our request for comment on Jangula’s case.

The Attorney General’s Office still has an active reporting line for victims of clergy sexual abuse. You can submit a report via email to ndag@nd.gov, or call the toll free tip line 1-800-472-2185.

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