“Twist of Fate”
Surviving Sexual Abuse
HBO Films brings us “Twist of Fate”, an intimate psychological journey made by Tony Comes, a firefighter of Toledo, Ohio who maintains that he was the victim of sexual abuse from a local parish priest and teacher, Dennis Gray.
We meet Tony and see that he has a great job, a wonderful wife, Wendy, two great kids and a new house. We also see that Tony is just beginning to come to terms with his past, something that has been buried for 20 years. The constant news reports about sexual abuse in the Church cause Tony to confront what he lived through.
When Tony begins to discuss his past, we are privy to a disturbing story. We learn that he grew up in a Catholic home and attended parochial schools and he met a very friendly priest named Dennis Gray with whom a deep friendship developed. We learn that Gray sexually abused him in a cabin in Michigan. It seems that Gray would invite boys to come spend the weekend and they were able to play and swim naked as well as drink alcohol. Gray would rotate sleeping assignments among the boys so that each would be allowed to share Gray’s private room. Gray told the boys that whatever happened at the cabin
Stayed at the cabin and there would be consequences if someone talked. Tony never said a word and the memories remained in his mind surfacing at inopportune moments.
When Tony married Wendy, he confided in her and his life was going fine until the stories of abuse in Boston surfaced. But even more disturbing than that was that Tony learned that Gray was living just a few houses down the street from him. Tony decided that the time had come to report the abuse and he went to a man he supremely trusted, the diocesan Bishop. He learned that the very same bishop has denied the very same allegations from others. Tony eventually filed a lawsuit against the diocese and Tony was forced into the spotlight. Others come forward but the case drags on and the stress has its effect on Tony. Eventually the case was settled and Tony received a settlement and Gray was moved ten miles away. It is interesting to note that the Diocese of Toledo had a stock portfolio worth $117 million dollars.
The documentary is a fascinating look at both the abuser and the abused and the Catholic Church. Whether or not Gray is really guilty is a question that is never fully answered. He denied all the charges against him.