People will not welcome Emily Yoffe’s allegation in Slate that Fr. Robert Drinan, the congressman-priest who became the spiritual father of pro-choice Catholicism, once assaulted her:
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. [ . . . ]
As we’ve seen too many times, coming forward in a case like that opens a woman up to character evisceration. Father Drinan died in 2007, and I’m aware that I’ll be assailed for besmirching the memory of a distinguished man.
The state of Massachusetts, where the alleged incident took place, prosecutes such actions as crimes of indecent assault and battery. Those convicted are put on the registry of sex offenders, which of course bears with it a very significant stigma.
Drinan’s family has replied with the following statement, “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.” A fair enough point, perhaps, but then victims hardly bear a responsibility to carry their assailants’ secrets to the grave.