Congressman/Priest Accused of Sexual Assault

In a piece published at Slate, writer Emily Yoffe recounts a sexual assault by Fr. Robert Drinan, who passed away in 2007.

Yoffe, who writes Slate’s “Dear Prudence” agony aunt column, relates three tales of sexual abuse from the course of her life, ending with this account involving Fr. Drinan:

The last incident was not child abuse, because I was no longer a minor, though I was still a teenager of 18 or 19. Several years earlier, my family had worked for the election of our congressman, Father Robert Drinan, an anti-Vietnam War, pro-choice priest. He was in town for a fundraiser or town meeting, and I went. Afterward he offered me a ride to the subway. (You’d think I would have learned.) He was in his 50s, and as he drove we chatted about college. We got to where he was letting me off, he turned off the engine, and he began jabbering incoherently about men and women. Then he lunged, shoving his tongue in my mouth while running his hands over my breasts and up and down my torso. It seems like the set-up for a joke, a Jewish woman being molested by a Jesuit. As we tussled, I had probably the most naïve thought of my life: “How could this be happening, he’s a priest!”

As I shoved him off and opened the car door to get out, I saw I had left a smear of my pink lipstick on his clerical collar. Again, I told no one. It was embarrassing, revolting, and I had no desire to make accusations against a congressman, especially one I admired.

Father Robert Drinan’s niece, Ann Drinan, released the following statement on behalf of the family: “We find it odd that anyone would come forward with this allegation decades later when our uncle is dead and in no position to defend himself.”

Fr. Drinan served as a congressman for Massachusetts from 1970 until 1980, when Bl. John Paul II issued a worldwide order barring priests from holding elected office. Drinan, a Democrat, was a reliable progressive vote during those years, but his most lasting achievement was the intellectual and religious cover he gave to pro-”choice” progressive Catholics. Drinan’s support for legal abortion–he liked to say that it was a sin, not a crime–was one of the key elements in making legal abortion a permanent part of the Democratic Party platform.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the Biography tab.