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... Not Just L.A., The City of Angels Is Everywhere...

I was age five when the bishop stood over me and said, "Stop babbling about what the priest did to you." Then, forty years later... I started babbling.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

MEMORIES: Housemate Was Pedophile Priest w/Maybe Hundreds of Victims, St. Anthony Seminary, Santa Barbara 1980s-1990s

Better opening of this story here:
MY PEDOPHILE HOUSEMATE: Franciscan Seminary in Santa Barbara Was Private Neverland for Father Robert
POSTED 5:18 am, June 11, 2010
It’s impossible to read Iggy’s emails and then say the Catholic Church did not enable pedophiles: “One time he brought in this young boy. They walked through the living room ...

HERE IS the Original from Wednesday:

“One time he brought in this young boy. They walked through the living room and straight into his study, then closed the door.” Iggy hesitates. “I heard the kid through the door say ‘Father Robert.’ And the way his voice sounded. It was this exclamation…. But I thought, oh nothing could be wrong, he's with a priest. So I just let it go. But my memory kept it. ‘Father Robert! Father Robert!’ Sometimes things are right in front of us and we don't even see them.”

When I began researching the hundreds of child molestations that took place at St. Anthony’s Seminary in Santa Barbara, I wrote to Ignacio Aceves, one of dozens of adult victims of priests at the Santa Barbara school run by Franciscans. Aceves' first emails were tentative, then he opened up and poured out memories of years he lived and worked at the seminary, sharing living space with Fr. Robert Van Handel.

The clever priest persuaded the Franciscans to let him run a boys' choir making him able to for 20 years take his pick of boys from the community in just the age range Van Handel craved. “Now I understand that it was also a constant supply of attractive little boys," the priest wrote soon after his 1994 arrest, in a "sexual autobiography."

"He could easily have abused 150 boys,” wrote a psychologist in Van Handel's Probation Report.

(See if you can still say the Catholic Church did not enable pedophiles after reading emails from Ignacio Aceves that resulted in this first person story.):

When Van Handel was arrested, and he was at the County Jail, he was sharing a room with a cop who was arrested for sexual abuse of a child. I saw him (during a tour of the facility). He was sitting, reading, he had a book about the size of a photo album and he looked so calm and relaxed, as if he was behind his desk at the seminary, looking over some material. It was surreal. I tried to see what he was reading via the camera on the ceiling of his cell that was monitoring him, but I couldn't tell.


Where do I start?

Yeah, well one friar once said about the material things Van Handel owned while at the seminary, "If this is poverty, bring out the chastity!" and would break out in laughter. These guys live the life, traveling, partying, etc. etc.

What did they have? Well, access to a photo lab; lots of children's toys; a dog that he used to get the attention of the boys; a late model VW van which he painted twice within a month because he didn't like the color the first time; use of a 15 passenger van for his choir [Santa Barbara Boys’ Choir] to take them places like Magic Mountain; a lot of the seminary property was at his disposal for boys choir-related stuff; he had several offices at his disposal i.e. (S.B. Boys Choir office; his own office across from that office ); a lot of boy choir stuff for the performances; use of half the Casa for Boys Choir events (Xmas-related event in the former school library {downstairs} etc. etc.).

He would use dormitory space for SB Boys Choir camp (he let the boys stay there for some kind of boys camp); Use of former seminary facilities for boys choir use (a long list here); at one time he owned a large station wagon dubbed the "boys choir car."; he used this to take boys to Lake Cachuma.

An audio visual room for boys choir whatever (the windows were obscure so I couldn't see inside.), two music rooms for boys choir practice; the Rector's Lounge back room was a costume room for boys choir; tons of stuffed animals were stashed in a tiny space under the stairs in the restroom in the main building. (I never understood that.).

He had a secretary for that boys choir office who helped him.; lots of parking spaces where Van Handel would play tag with the boys after their practice in the tower ; a chapel at his disposal; soccer field space where boys choir might hang out sometimes.

R.V.H. used the Casa to have the boys over; the Casa lawns were places where the choir boys might play with R.V.H.'s dog named Elgar. the attic of the sacristy was also used for a lot of boy choir props/costumes.

The barn (a huge dorm on the top floor of the main building) was at his disposal.

Plus credit cards; a mountain bike; stereo equipment; lots of tobacco for his pipes.

Trips to England with the boys choir every four years.

Tons of booze located in a pantry next to the kitchen at the Casa; ice cream and cookies for the choir boys in the kitchen fridge; VCR- television; camera equipment.

Casa use to tutor a single boy; etc. etc. etc. The list goes on and on and on...

In a nutshell, much of the 16 acres of the Santa Barbara Franciscan property was R.V.H.'s Neverland.

"Not a month went by that Defendant did not molest members of the Santa Barbara Boys Choir,” reads the Probation Report.


ANOTHER EMAIL (We talked about where Van Handel lives today in Santa Cruz, how it looks from Google Earth):

He lives way out in the boonies! This must be like one of the camping trips for him, minus the choir boys. The place looks like a trailer park. Do you think this is some kind of registered sex offender colony?


My God, RVH was in the news a lot! It was very strange sitting in the living room at the Casa and seeing RVH on the news, I could see him on the screen sitting on the very sofa in the living room that I was sitting on watching the news. Very surreal. Around that time, he was on television so much that I dubbed the news channel the Van Handel Channel.

I just remembered something about the day in the courtroom when RVH was going to be sentenced. The judge read a list of things RVH got to do while in therapy. At one point, the judge read about how RVH got to go to a football game! The judge was pretty upset. RVH did a lot of things that were fun, at least to him. The judge was not happy.

R.V.H. (Robert Van Handel ) told me that he had a degree in child psychology when I was living in the same house. I wasn't the only one he told this to. As far as I know, he really didn't have one. I think he only had a church history degree.

There's something else I want you to know.

It wasn't uncommon for me to be watching a TV show in the living room, only to have R.V.H. rush in the front door and change the channel so he could watch a particular show that he enjoyed.

The show was The Wonder Years. It had a wide-eyed character in it played by a child actor [Fred Savage]. The show was narrated by the boy’s character as an adult looking back on his childhood.

I also recall one time R.V.H. rushed in the front door and to the VCR. He would look through some tapes quickly and stick one into the machine while I was in the middle of watching a television show.

Guess what he was so excited and in a hurry to watch?

A video of choir boys singing.

The picture wasn't even that great. It was a damn video! I thought to myself, "Why did he have to rush in to watch a video? That's one of the advantages of a video, you don't have to rush to the television to see it!"


RVH: “In an emotional outburst I said, ‘I don't know how you can say those things about my father. He’s a very good man!"


RVH kept a row of teddy bears on his bed when he was at the Casa.

I once had a girlfriend who invited me to a 12 Step meeting. When we arrived at the building, I read the sign said Schick Center. It was a place that doubled for people with nicotine addiction treatment. Anyway, the people there all had teddy bears. I asked her after why they had teddy bears and she said it brought the child out of the person.

That's when I thought about why Van Handel had the teddy bear animals on his bed.

“If Van Handel started his abuse career at age of twenty, continuing until forty-five, acting out on only ten boys per year, he could easily have abused 150 boys.” Therapist in Probation Report.


Sometimes, when R.V.H. and I would watch television, there might be a scene where a very young child (actor) would say something in the dialogue. R.V.H. would comment on the child character’s response saying something like, "A child at that age wouldn't respond in that manner." I noticed how R.V.H. appeared to have a knowledge of age appropriate behavior among children.

Just took these notes about Robert Van Handel’s school, no mention of child psych:

High school grad (St. Anthony’s 1965)
San Luis Rey College 1969 BA philosophy
Graduate Theological Union College 1972, MA Theology and Master of Divinity 1975
UCSB 1991 MA History.


IGGY IN MY EMAIL WROTE: RE his address today in Santa Cruz: It's close to the place he gets therapy for his "sex addiction."


Over the phone, Iggy remembered Van Handel as a clever man, who in the TV room always commented favorably on con artists and crooks getting away with crimes in TV shows.

"He would put his hands on his chin and look straight ahead and say, How clever," Iggy said. "He really got floored by people getting away with crimes. I think he got behind the wheel of that cleverness, all those years.

"The way he had the lab to develop his pictures, the choir boys, he’d raise money for the kids to go with him on trips to England.

"Things can be right in front of you and you don't see them."


Background: Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Predator Franciscan describes years he ran Santa Barbara Boys Choir, 'A constant supply of attractive little boys' (5 pages scanned here)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Priest Abused a Boy a Month in Santa Barbara Boys Choir. With 150 victims, he serves time for one. Now living in Santa Cruz
One More Email from Ignacio: If you'd like to see what a divider looked like at the seminary sophomore dorm in the Summer of 1980, check out the film Evil Speak (low budget horror film). Look at the scene where the black student walks around a tall green interior divider by a bed. It was shot at St. Anthony's.

Ignacio took a job as a handyman at St. Anthony’s seminary when he was a teenager in Oakland because, “It meant I got to live in Santa Barbara.” Employees of the Franciscans often lived in dormitories on the Pacific Coast property. “I Worked there 86 to 87 and also 1990-1994 (when the property was leased to other nearby schools).”
Iggy himself was a victim of a different perpetrator priest at the seminary, Gus Krumm. (It was hard for a boy to avoid, imagines the City of Angels).
St. Anthony's Seminary closed in June 1987
Posted by Kay Ebeling, The City of Angels Is Everywhere

More Background: Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Predator Franciscan describes years he ran Santa Barbara Boys Choir, 'A constant supply of attractive little boys' (5 pages scanned here)
Friday, January 29, 2010

The Pedophile Mind: In panic as his conviction for child molestation approached, the priest poured out his sexual history to give the Court
Friday, January 29, 2010

A Pedophile Mind: As sentencing approaches, priest pours out sexual history hoping for probation, gets notoriety instead

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