The following year, when it was time for Timothy’s younger brother Joseph to study with Father Jones, Timothy refused to leave Joseph alone with him. He never explained to his parents why, or what had happened to him.
After Joseph received his first communion in 1990, Father Jones was relocated, and Timothy, 10, began seeing a psychiatrist, who told his parents that Timothy was depressed.
By the time he was married and starting a family, Mr. Schlenz no longer understood the abstract flashbacks that still haunted him. It wasn’t until 2013, when his little brother asked if he remembered studying with Father Jones in Manhattan, that it all started to click.
Over the next several years, Mr. Schlenz committed himself to intense therapy sessions, where he also dealt with even earlier memories of being abused by a Catholic priest in Newark, the Rev. David Ernst, years before Timothy met Father Jones. The Ernst case, part of a well-publicized class-action suit that included Mr. Schlenz, was successfully settled in 2018 (the Archdiocese of Newark admitted to wrongdoing and added Father Ernst, who died in 1988, to its list of credibly accused clergy). But Mr. Schlenz felt alone and unsupported when it came to Father Jones and the Dominicans.
In late 2018, Mr. Schlenz disclosed his memories to another Dominican priest, who reported the complaint to the order. Father Jones was placed on administrative leave, and an internal investigation was initiated, concluding in June 2019 in the form of a letter by Father Letoile exonerating Father Jones.
“There was not a semblance of truth in the allegation,” the letter said. It recommended that “Father Jones be publicly restored to ministry.” The statement was followed by a note from Father Jones. “I tried to remember to pray for my accuser,” he wrote, “and to offer up what I was being given to suffer in reparation for the sins of Christians and the purifying of the church.”
Then, Father Jones vanished. (Recent court documents from the Schlenz case list him as a New York resident.)