Stephon Cook had some vivid memories, but these were not loving memories that he would cherish for the rest of his life. These were vivid memories of sexual abuse that he had suffered as a child; suffered at the hands of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. Bernardin was head of the nation’s third largest archdiocese, with nearly three million Catholics that were under his guidance. He was considered a worldwide leader of the church and had taken the initiative in helping to establish an investigative mechanism for handling charges of clerical sexual abuse. His methods were seen as ground breaking and a laudatory example for others across the nation.
Could it be true? Was the Cardinal guilty of such a heinous crime? He had evidence that supposedly corroborated his story. The media reported it as a classic, “he said, she said” event with Cook’s story of abuse holding up against Bernardin unequivocal and unchanging denial. The Cardinal never wavered. He claimed that he was not guilty of these crimes and that he had faith in the American justice system that the people would see the truth.