Friday, March 22, 2002
Paciorek says his siblings were abused as well
DETROIT -- Former major league baseball player Tom Paciorek
says he and three of his brothers were molested when they were
children by a priest who was removed this week from another
The brothers grew up just outside Hamtramck on Detroit's east
side and attended Hamtramck St. Ladislaus, where the Rev. Gerald
Shirilla was a teacher.
Shirilla was removed Wednesday from St. Mary Catholic Church in
Alpena, in northern Michigan, where he accepted an assignment last
Shirilla, 63, has not responded to repeated requests for
comment. His attorney, Michael Smith, told the Detroit Free Press
that the priest has done nothing that would make him unfit for
Paciorek said he lodged a complaint about Shirilla with the
Roman Catholic Archidocese of Detroit in 1993 after another former
student filed a lawsuit about the priest. The archdiocese placed
Shirilla on administrative leave in response and prohibited him
from public ministry.
However, the lawsuit was dismissed in 1999 because the statue of
limitation had run out; state law required victims abused as minors
to file for monetary civil damages before they turned 19.
Paciorek, 55, said he was surprised when he heard Shirilla had
been hired in Alpena.
"I was molested by him for a period of four years," Paciorek
said this week in Kissimmee, Fla., where he is covering the Atlanta
Braves training camp for Fox Sports Net. "I would refer to them as
attacks. I would say there was at least a hundred of them."
The former All-Star said he didn't tell anyone because no one
would have believed him.
"When you're a kid, and you're not able to articulate, who's
going to believe you?" he asked. "The church back then was so
powerful, there's nothing that a kid could do," he said.
Shirilla had the trust of Paciorek's parents and would pick the
boy up and take him to Sacred Heart Seminary.
"There were times, so many times, I just wanted to say.
`Listen, just leave me alone. Get away from me.' I rehearsed it and
rehearsed it," Paciorek said. He said the abuse continued until he
graduated and left for the University of Houston.
Paciorek went on to have a long, successful baseball career,
from 1970 to 1987, but said he still suffered emotionally.
He and his brothers had kept the abuse secret, even from each
other, until the early 1980s, when Michael Paciorek, the fourth of
five boys in the family, started making comments about Shirilla.
"I told them what he used to do to me. And all of a sudden, it
went from being funny to being not so funny," said Michael
Paciorek, now 47. "I first became a victim of his when I was 8, 9
or 10 years old."
Bobby Paciorek, now 51, the third of the five brothers, related
similar memories of abuse. He said it began when he was in seventh
or eighth grade. Only the youngest brother said he was not molested
Allegations of child sexual abuse by priests gained national
attention in January when documents revealed that Boston church
officials had ignored abuse allegations against a former priest
convicted of molesting a 10-year-old boy. Since then, dozens of
priests across the country out of more than 47,000 nationwide
having been suspended or forced to resign.