His reply: "No."

When the subject of his twin brother's death came up, Doe got so emotional they asked him if he needed a break. And on four occasions, they had to reassure him that they trusted his words.

"I'm being honest with you," he pleaded to them at one point.

Vlad Alvarez
Vlad Alvarez

"We believe you," Goldenhersh replied. "That's fine. Don't worry about it. Just do the best you can. I don't want you to get nervous over it."

The bulk of the questions seemed designed to establish that Doe never really lost the memory of Cooper's deeds and, instead, harbored it as a secret. Doe, however, never wavered.

"It didn't exist," he said of the memory over and over again. "It wasn't a secret. I never mentally thought, 'I don't want to remember this.' It just was something that was a part of my life that was erased."

But how then, Goldenhersh inquired, could Doe "remember" to steer clear of Cooper after the second episode, as he earlier testified?

"I don't know if 'remembered' would be the right word," he responded. "Instinct, I guess, told me that. Instinct told me this wasn't right."

But, the attorney pressed on, what about when he was 25? Wouldn't he have found such acts inappropriate between a boy and priest?

"Excuse the expression," Doe answered. "When I was 25, all I cared about was getting drunk and laid."

The defense did eventually identify one area on which there was no dispute: The clubhouse did not belong to the archdiocese. Nor did Cooper make any mention of spiritual matters while down there.

Doe argues that the only reason he left the rectory for the clubhouse was that he trusted Cooper as a man of the cloth.

But in his ruling, Judge McCullin wrote: "The fact that Father Cooper was a priest 24 hours a day does not make the archdiocese responsible for all his activities and does not make any and all of his activities the actions of a priest within the scope of his respective duties."

Hearing of the decision, David Clohessy of SNAP was incensed, saying it was unconscionable that the archdiocese would essentially concede that Cooper was molesting kids and failed to stop him, only to "squirm out of accountability" on a peripheral issue.

"If you claim to be a spiritual institution, then you have to defend yourself on the merits and not the technicalities," he asserts, "even if it's more arduous."

Says Church lawyer Huger: "I don't believe cases are won on technicalities," he says. "I think they're won on whatever the applicable legal principles are." He has filed an appeal, despite the victory, insisting that the statute of limitations must apply.

Clohessy says the ruling, which Doe has appealed, "almost signals to would-be predator priests that if you're going to molest a kid in your car, make sure you do it on the street and not in our parking lot.'"

Before his interview last month with this reporter, John Doe stoops over to greet his lawyer, Rebecca Randles, with a hug.

Wearing white tennis shoes and a T-shirt tucked into blue jeans, Doe announces, with a fair amount of pride, that he's been working 32 years now for the same utility company that his late father worked for. While he's only earned a high school diploma, he boasts that two of his children have attended college.

Doe confesses he doesn't know how memory loss works and feels enormous guilt that he first remembered his abuse with someone other than Dr. Mofsen.

"I don't know why I didn't tell him first; I apologized to him," Doe says. "He's a Jewish doctor. You know how your kids will make Jewish jokes? That man saved my life! I would swim the Mississippi for him."

This lawsuit isn't about a "payday," Doe insists. "We're not the Busches," he says, comparing his own family to the local brewing dynasty. "But it's not about the money for me."

It's about transparency and responsibility, he says. He believes Church officials are hiding in the court system, doing all they can to keep cases from going to trial and to keep evidence under seal. Soon, he says, he'll divulge his identity to St. Louis, because he's not ashamed anymore.

Both Doe's father and sister have been treated for major depression. He himself has been diagnosed as bipolar and thinks part of his affliction may be hereditary.

"I'm goofy," he says. "I know not all of my problems were caused by Cooper. But a lot of them were."

He wants a sit-down meeting with Archbishop Carlson. With litigation pending, the Church says it cannot accommodate his request. But the kind of closure he really wants, he can never have.

"I wish," muses Doe, "Cooper was alive, so I could say, 'Why'd you do that, Father?' And if he would just look at me and say, 'I'm sorry, I was wrong. I'm sorry I messed up your life.'"

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