In the US, Black survivors are nearly invisible in the Catholic clergy sexual abuse crisis

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BALTIMORE — As Charles Richardson gradually lost his eyesight to complications from diabetes, certain childhood memories haunted him even more.

The Catholic priest appeared vividly in his mind’s eye — the one who promised him a spot on a travel basketball team, took him out for burgers and helped him with homework. The one, Richardson alleges, who sexually assaulted him for more than a year.

“I’ve been seeing him a lot lately,” Richardson said.

As a Black middle schooler from Baltimore, Richardson started spending time with the Rev. Henry Zerhusen, a charismatic white cleric. It was the 1970s and Zerhusen’s parish was a fixture in a neighborhood experiencing white flight and rapidly becoming majority-Black. Zerhusen welcomed his church’s racial integration and implemented programs for struggling families, including Richardson’s.

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