This week I revisit my 2013 conversation with Episcopal Priest Carl Russell about the childhood sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his family’s priest. Carl talks about the way that the priest gradually built trust with his parents and used that trust to gain access. He tells the extraordinary story of how he began to heal after hearing a radio story about sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese. You’ll hear how, at 72 years old, Carl was finally able to see justice when he pressed charges, and broke the silence that had plagued him all his life.
This week we revisit a 2015 conversation with Sandy White Hawk, one of five commissioners of Maine’s historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Sandy is Sicangu Lakota and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, who was separated from her family and heritage and adopted at 18 months old by a white family. She talks about the trauma of adoption and racism, and about the healing she found by reclaiming her identity.
We end this season by revisiting the topic of the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I speak with former DHHS worker Shawn Yardley about why children are removed from native families at disproportionate rates, and what it’s been like for him, as a white man, to raise three girls with native heritage.
A conversation with Mike, who spent seven years in a federal prison on a drug conviction. He talks about the circumstances which led to his arrest, including an abusive upbringing and a chemical dependency which began in his mid-teen years. He describes his arrest in a hotel, and the subsequent trial in which the perjury of a key witness caused Mike to receive a much longer sentence than he would have otherwise. He goes on to explain how he eventually accepted this fate, dropping his legal appeal, and why this decision was an important turning point both in his prison sentence and in his life.