A case study of a sociopath: the documentary Deliver us from Evil

This blog usually confines itself to the topic of domestic abuse, not other kinds of abuse like childhood sexual abuse. But we do discuss the mentality and tactics of sociopaths, because a domestic abuser is a type of sociopath.

If you are feeling brave (and maybe have a good friend to sit beside you while you view it) the documentary Deliver Us From Evil is an excellent case study of a sociopath. It’s about a notorious priest from the Roman Catholic church who sexually abused multitudes of children in California over decades. The guy gives airbrushed  ‘accounts” of what he did to some of these kids and what he did to groom their parents. And he tells how, when the kids were grown up he wrote, a letter of “apology” to them asking them to come and meet him, individually mind you, not in a group, so they would finally be able to “put it behind them”.  Need I say, it was creepy, disgusting, and chilling to watch this guy.

As you watch him, note the qualifiers he uses when describing his acts: “maybe….possibly….I might have….perhaps…. I began to feel  a little affectionate” (when the right words would be predatory and lascivious). And watch for a tell tale wink he gives. Eeeuughhh.

After watching it, you will probably need someone to debrief with. But as an exercise in strengthening your discernment and resilience against the deceptive “nice guy” tactics of sociopaths, here is one writ large.

[March 29, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to March 29, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to March 29, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to March 29, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (March 29, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

7 thoughts on “A case study of a sociopath: the documentary Deliver us from Evil”

  1. Barbara, I watched it too. I wanted to hit the man. He seemed to be proud of his accomplishments. It’s easy to see how people can be drawn in by someone who is quietly spoken, polite and friendly. I saw the deceit in the faces of the Catholic hierarchy. They think they have gotten away with their crimes but in the end they will answer to the Lord. He will wipe the smile off their faces. The documentary “Deliver Us From Evil” can be viewed on YouTube. So sad for the victims.

  2. Oh thank you for this! There does need to be an awakening in the church about this. It is so sad how the words “domestic violence” tend to quiet a room of believers. I have found so many want to brush it under the rug and pretend it never happened. When God has commanded for us to be His hands and feet. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

    1. the words “domestic violence” tend to quiet a room of believers.

      Great phrase! I think I might use it as a title of a post, if that’s okay with you. Bless you, Movedbyfaith.

  3. Yes, yes, please use it. When we were reaching out for help from the church we would often hear “I will pray for reconciliation or reunification”. My friend was being so so badly abused by someone with absolutely no remorse. Still within the church community when she is asked how she is doing if you dare mention the words DV a deafening silence and a glazed look appears on many (not all) faces. Don’t get me wrong though, this is not every Christian in fact the “keep it hidden Christians” are the minority but the fact that they exist is very bothersome.

    1. Yeah. I was chatting with a friend yesterday about the glazed silence and the “keep it hidden Christians”. We were discussing which topics bring down the silence shades most. Here’s my “back of the envelope” list ranked in order from greater to lesser. The greatest silence inducer topics, ranked equal first, are “sex” & “domestic abuse”. After these comes “dying”; then “gynecological problems”. Would you agree?

      But in regard to the “keep it hidden Christians”, I don’t think they are in the minority when it comes to domestic abuse. Maybe it depends on what kind of church you attend, but in my world they are the majority. And the folk who think it IS okay to talk about are usually fairly ignorant about the true dynamics of domestic abuse, so when they talk about it, they spread myths, misinformation and poor theology that only muddies the waters. Sigh.

  4. I attend a non-denominational church. It is a very large church, possibly classified as a mega-church. When Kara first left the majority of support she received was from our Women’s Bible Study group. As word spread from the Bible Study group, many others stepped in. The Benevolence pastor agreed to help pay for gas assistance for a short time. Every now and again a few women will greet me in the hall or in passing and ask how she is doing. (She still attends the same church, as well.) Often times the answer they are looking for is “great”. I have started to be able to see who genuinely cares and who really doesn’t want to hear what she needs help / prayer with. There are many though that fall under “the don’t ask, don’t know” category. They are the ones that would rather pretend that it would never happen to anyone they know rather much more prefer to live in ignorant bliss. I can’t agree more about the people who are fairly ignorant about the true dynamics of domestic abuse.

    When I walked into “Family Christian Bookstore” and asked for a book about domestic violence a hush fell over the store. I didn’t scream it out but it was enough to have the cashier turn around and look at me. I told my husband the term DV is almost as bad as saying the “F” word in a Christian bookstore. Of course, to my dismay there weren’t books available on that topic.

    My brother, Pastor of a small Pentecostal church in Montana, continued to tell me he was praying for reconciliation. It would make me crazy. I would explain relentlessly about her abuse and he really truly believes that marriage should come first and be worked out and saved….at any cost.

    Hope I didn’t get too off topic, love your insight and so excited to have found great information on your blog!!

    1. Hi, MovedbyFaith, your comment is great, and not too off-topic. You were a brave person to utter the words “Domestic Violence” loud enough to be heard in a Christian bookstore. But I gather you are not the victim, just a victim’s stalwart supporter. (GOOD ON YOU!) My guess, and my personal experience, is that a victim would not dare utter the words herself; she’d just silently search the shelves looking for books on marriage problems, and probably come away more despairing than ever because she’d find books that told her she just had to submit more.

      And your brother. Sigh. “We’re praying for the reconciliation of the marriage” is like a knife to the throat of the victim. It tells her they don’t believe she is really being abused, and they don’t care even if she IS really being abused — because the marriage is more important than her. There comes a point where we should just save our breath and quit trying to explain to people who don’t want to learn. Their presuppositions are too big for us to make any impact on their mindset.

      Nancy Nason-Clark criticizes the “holy hush” in the church about domestic abuse. People think it’s a holy hush — we shouldn’t embarrass the individuals, etc., etc. — but it’s not holy, it’s wicked. It’s wicked to keep your mouth zipped about heinous sin and diabolical injustice.

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