SAN ANTONIO – The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church is stirring up pain for one local mother, who said her son died by suicide more than 20 years ago after claiming he was sexually abused by a priest.
Barbara Garcia Boehland said her once happy, outgoing teenage son was depressed. She said the difference in his behavior was like night and day.
“It was a total turnaround. He had nightmares. He couldn't sleep. He was always sick. It was devastating,” Garcia Boehland said.
Garcia Boehland said her son’s abuse started in 1993. Her son, Eduardo, was 16 and attended St. Anthony’s High School. The priest, Carlos Lozano, pleaded no contest to the charges against him and was sentenced to 10 years’ probation.
Lozano was later sentenced to 20 years in prison after violating his probation by downloading pornographic images from the internet.
“In 1997, my son couldn't deal with it and committed suicide. Though he was in therapy, it wasn't something that I could save him from,” Garcia Boehland said.
Garcia Boehland, once a devout Catholic, left the church. She believes the church leaders have hidden hundreds of similar cases and are protecting the accused.
“As far as the pope, this is the same ol' song and dance coming from the pope. They say they’re sorry, but nothing is ever done. No bishops or priests are really held responsible for this,” Garcia Boehland said.
Eduardo would have been 41 this year. Garcia Boehland said she can’t help but imagine how much different life would be with her son by her side.
“My son, I’m sure would of been married by now. I would have had grandchildren. I'm sure he would have been a professional at something,” Garcia Boehland said.
September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Garcia Boehland said anyone who is a victim of sexual assault should come forward and seek help.
Anyone contemplating suicide is urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.