ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Denver Attorney General released a devastating report about Catholic priests sexually abusing at least 166 children.
One of the men lives right here in St. Petersburg and says his life changed when he was just 14 years old.
"He took my clothes off and he forced me. He touched me inappropriately many times that night," Michael Smilanic said.
Smilanic says no screams or words could've stopped priest Neal Hewitt from molesting him at a young age.
He never opened up to anyone about what happened to him until 2015. 48 years later, he was finally able to tell his wife.
"My wife and I went to go see the movie 'Spotlight' and that's really is tough to sit through, but really when I came home I told her what happened to those little boys, happened to me," Smilanic said.
He told the Denver Archdiocese in 2017. Two years later and the Colorado Attorney General released a report detailing the abuse by 43 Catholic priests in Colorado. 166 kids were abused. The report says Michael is one of Priest Hewitt's eight victims.
"I counted the words and there's 15 words to describe what happened to me. That doesn't reflect the terror and everything that I felt when this was going on, because I knew that it was wrong," Smilanic said.
When our sister station in Denver questioned the priest about the abuse he admitted it and broke down when he apologized.
"I would like him to admit and really completely apologize for it. I know he said that he's sorry, but again it doesn't feel genuine to me," Smilanic said. "That's what I would want, is a genuine apology for him admitting it. Everything that he did and how it changed the course of my life."
Priest Hewitt is not in jail. The Denver Archdiocese is cooperating with a full investigation.
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