RealTime: Clinton Hostage Drama Rooted in Sex Abuse


Tim Grieve at Salon reports on the alleged sexual molestation by Catholic priests of the man, Lee Eisenberg, who held hostages in Clinton campaign headquarters yesterday.

Leeland Eli Eisenberg, the man arrested tonight after taking hostages at Hillary Clinton's campaign office in Rochester, N.H., appears to have served time in prison for aggravated rape and filed a lawsuit in 2002 alleging that he had been molested 20 years earlier by a Catholic priest in Massachusetts.

The suit alleged that Eisenberg was 21, "homeless and living in abandoned cars in a local junk yard" when he sought help at a Catholic parish in Westford, Mass. A priest offered him work at the parish in exchange for room and board until he could get back on his feet, the lawsuit alleged.

While Eisenberg was living and working at the parish, the lawsuit alleged, a second priest would frequently take him to dinner, buy him drinks, then return to the parish afterward for more drinks. The priest would then "bring out a box of pornographic material, sit behind Plaintiff on a couch, pull out pornographic pictures and magazines and insist the Plaintiff look at the pornographic materials. [The priest] would then sexually molest the Plaintiff."

The lawsuit alleged that the priest molested Eisenberg at a "peep show" in Boston and attempted to "rape" him after he'd been picked up drunk by local police. After that incident, the lawsuit alleged, Eisenberg fled the parish and, a short while later, attempted to kill himself by jumping off a bridge in Ayer, Mass.

Once again we see the reality of sexual repression, the abuse of power in sexual relationships, the ability for the powerful to prey on people perceived as weak, and the horrifying results in one man's life, and the harm he in turn is guilty of inflicting on others.

"Pro-life" forces who accuse women of crimes for exercising their rights to bodily autonomy, deny comprehensive sexuality education, and would prohibit the use of contraception if given the power to do so, need to understand the correlation between denying people the right to healthy, respectful, informed choices about natural human sexuality and the painful consequences of sexual dysfunction.

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  • harry834

    I hear the argument, but where did sexual repression take place in this particular story?

  • scott-swenson

    Harry, thanks for the question. One interpretation of the wide-spread priest sex abuse scandal is that some people simply are not equipped do deal with a life of celibacy, and the repressed sexual desires or arrested development of young men entering the priesthood may have contributed to the abuse. If, as Eisenberg alleges, he was molested by a priest using porn, that seems to me like repression leading to acting out in unhealthy ways. You're the medical guy, what say you? And before the hate mail starts, let me be clear that celibacy chosen and honored can be an amazing devotion. It's just clear that some people, pedophiles, might have chosen the priesthood for less devotional reasons.

    Here is Frances Kissling writing about the power dynamic in the priest scandal.


    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • harry834

    I'll give it a look through.

  • invalid-0

    The man is known to be mentally ill. Therefore he is not entirely credible. That doesn’t mean everything he says is a lie, but certainly needs to be verified independently. He says he was molested at age 21. That is well above the age of consent everywhere. He could tell the priest no thanks and leave. I find it hard to believe that a grown man felt he couldn’t escape such a situation. Many people have no problem with consenting adults doing what he did. I understand that the church and society expect priests to be celibate, but breaking those vows is not a crime if the other person is an adult. Do you think it is a crime for a man to take a 21 year old man out to dinner, buy him alcohol, show him porn and sexually solicit him? I mean some men do exactly that and people say that is none of anyone’s business. It may not be right, but is it a crime?

  • scott-swenson

    According to the story, the man was homeless and mentally ill, at any age a vulnerable position for anyone. Are you suggesting that it is appropriate to take advantage of a vulnerable person staying in a parish seeking help? There is nothing consensual about molestation or rape at any age. It is a crime of power.

    The point I was making is that he was a vulnerable person, suffering abuse at the hand’s of someone in a position of power, and that led to more disturbing behavior on his part. The hypocrisy is that the people perpetrating at least part of the drama are those who piously tell others how to act, to control their urges, and wish to keep people uniformed.


    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • harry834

    "There is nothing consensual about molestation or rape at any age."

     

    To be technical, perhaps this would be more defined as rape than molestation, given the age. On the other hand…

    To look beyond the legal technicalities, and at the ethical nature, I see the abuse of power. I guess I wonder how that would translate to court of law, but I'm guessing that we might hope it would, given that an ethical breah was done.

     

  • invalid-0

    Svenson,

    I basically agree with what you are saying. I just find the 21 years of age and molestation charge strange. I mean rape is a crime but from what you wrote, that isn’t what he claims. He claims inappropriate sexual advances and he didn’t say no. Of course the priest is abusing his position, but some would say that the actions themselves are not outside usual privacy protections. The men are adults and one claims he was coerced but only 20 years later. I mean it is a strange story. When priests abuse their positions, the church needs to discipline them and kick them out of the priesthood. This case would be a hard one though because so much time has passed and the guy is not the most credible person. It is very sad.

  • scott-swenson

    The lawsuit alleged that the priest molested Eisenberg at a "peep show" in Boston and attempted to "rape" him after he'd been picked up drunk by local police.

    Thanks for the clarifying points, I certainly get the quibble, was just building off this line in the original piece from Salon, reporting from legal depositions. Again, it is clear this is a troubled person, but his troubles were exacerbated, not treated, and that just seems like a metaphor for the entire sexual and reproductive health debate when it comes to those who refuse to understand and work with human nature.

    As for the claim coming 20 years later, that seems to be a pattern with many of the abuse scandals that have been settled. To the point you make about his credibility, I always wonder which came first, the credibility problem, or the sexual abuse and mental illness. You are right, a very sad case, made sadder still by forces in culture that prefer to discredit someone who sought help, and found something else.

     

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor