It took 30 years for the victim of Father Matthew Michael Sprouffske to work up the courage to confront her abuser, and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
It was 1986 when the woman penned two eloquent and powerful missives, one to Sprouffske and one to Monsignor John Rawden, an archdiocese official, and she spoke plainly about the abuse she suffered from the age of about 4 until 16.
Though the physical abuse stopped, she wrote, the emotional trauma and never-ending fear that Sprouffske may have abused other children as a priest and educator at several churches and schools throughout Los Angeles County continued to eat away at her well into adulthood.
That fear proved well founded, with the woman having to fight again in 2002 to have Sprouffske removed from all duties when she learned he was allowed to return to schools and churches after receiving psychiatric treatment.
Sprouffske's abuse of the woman occurred prior to his ordination and during the early portion of his career, when he was assigned to Mount Carmel High School in Los Angeles and Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino.
He continued, however, well after the abuse to associate with her family, forcing the victim to isolate herself for a number of years because she could not handle the stress of seeing him.
"When I think of your cruel manipulation I am livid!" she wrote to Sprouffske in 1986. "And when I hear that you persist in associated yourself with my family, I am further infuriated! How dare you continue to masquerade as a man of God's calling!"
Memos between Father Roger Bonneau, Monsignor Thomas Curry and Cardinal Roger Mahony show Sprouffske admitted the accusations were true, though he insisted it was the only incident of its kind. He also agreed to therapy.
After his treatment in 1986, however, archdiocese files note he was allowed to return to full and unrestricted duty until 2002, including assignments at St. Raphael Catholic Church and Mount Carmel Priory, both in Los Angeles.
That all ended in April 2002, after the victim came forward again. A review of the situation noted Sprouffske was handled according to protocols in the 1980s, but the new zero-tolerance policy enacted by Mahony required Sprouffske's "immediate removal from all priestly ministry."
In November of that year the then 75-year-old was arrested at his home in Darien, Ill., on four felony counts of committing lewd acts with a minor under the age of 14, as reported in the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.
He returned to Los Angeles voluntarily, and in July 2003 the case was dismissed after courts decided the charges were too old.
He died in 2005.