San Jose clergyman opens up about being sexually abused by priest

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Clara University leaders are shedding light on the Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis.

"Today, I come before you, not only speaking for victims, but I speak to you as a victim myself," said Fr. Brendan McGuire with the San Jose Diocese.

In front of hundreds, Father McGuire shared his survival story of sexual abuse at the hands of a priest when he was younger.

RELATED: San Jose diocese to release names of every priest believed to have abused minors

"He waited 'til I turned 18 to make his final move so that it could not be called child abuse, he said that even as he attacked me," added McGuire of his attacker.

The powerful testimony was part of a panel discussion at Santa Clara University on the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

TAKE ACTION: Get help with sexual assault, rape, and abuse

McGuire's attacker was a notorious abuser from New England who went to prison and later died.

McGuire kept silent for 35 years. He decided to open up last month after news of the Pennsylvania grand jury's report on abuse allegations dating back to 1947.

"It's been a painful reality for me to come to grips with, but part of it was I needed to do that," said McGuire. "Because people were asking me to be an advocate for others, and I knew in my heart that I couldn't be an advocate for them if I couldn't be an advocate for myself."

The Catholic Church has been rocked by allegations of misconduct and cover-ups.

In response, many dioceses, including San Jose and Oakland plan on releasing the names of clergy members facing credible accusations of sexual abuse.

RELATED: Will State AG Xavier Becerra investigate California's Catholic church sex scandal?

"What the church could do to recover from that is to be transparent now and accountable now," said Fr. Kevin O'Brien, dean of Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University. "That's why you'll see more and more diocese, like the local diocese here, opening up their records."

The San Jose diocese has been holding listening sessions with parishioners and victims as a way of regaining trust.

Church and Jesuit leaders say structural reforms are needed to hold those in power accountable.

San Jose Diocese plans to release the names of priests sometime next week.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.