That Priest Was My Uncle
My name is Tami. Please know that this site and Will Lynch can be 100% trusted. I have never told my “full” story to more than five people. I’ve been thinking about it all weekend and have made up my mind to finally tell it, in hopes that it will help others.
I have three siblings but I won’t be talking about them, that is their decision to tell or not. Jerold Lindner, the priest in Will’s story, is my step-uncle. In 1975, when I was 7 years old, my mother married Larry, Jerold’s brother. I first met Jerold Lindner that same year on Thanksgiving. He came for dinner. That was also the first time he grabbed my face and stuck his tongue in my mouth. No one had ever done such a thing to me before and it was confusing and scary. The strangest part about it though was that my mom and step-dad were there. I think for that reason I said nothing.
After that first encounter I knew something was wrong, but didn’t really know what “it” was. We would see Jerry on holidays and sometimes he would just come to visit. He did “that” every time. We also saw him in Arizona when we went to visit my step-dad’s family. They were a very Catholic family. In their backyard they had a gazebo like structure in an L shape with religious statues and candles inside. I was nine or ten when I found myself trapped inside with Jerry. I went in first to be alone when he came in. He was blocking the door then sat next to me. He looked pissed and I was scared. It was summer time and I had shorts on. He put me on his lap and said, “Be quiet.” His left arm was around my waist, holding me very tightly. I’m starting to freak out writing this, I can’t stop shaking but I’m gonna do it. With his right hand he went inside my shorts and put his fingers inside me. I remember yelling out in pain when he covered my mouth with his left hand. The reason I yelled was because he cut me inside. I’m guessing it was a fingernail. He didn’t stop though and it was very painful. After he let me go he blocked the door again and told me I better be good and not cause any trouble, then he left and I walked out.
Everyone was in the house when Jerry walked back in. I went in after a few minutes, planning to tell my mom. I didn’t get the opportunity to tell her because Jerry’s mother grabbed me in the hallway and said basically the same thing Jerry had just said. I’ve always wondered if she set me up for her son. I don’t know why, but that silenced me, she was very intimidating. Maybe I thought my mom couldn’t help me – I don’t know. That same thing happened one more time at our house. He would come to dinners and holidays for years. He continued grabbing my face and sticking his tongue in my mouth, beyond gross. He tried once or twice what happened in that religious structure but I managed to get away. I would always keep my little sister with me and made sure she wore pants when he was around. One of the last dinners he came to I was sitting directly across the table from him. I was about fourteen and remember shooting him dagger looks. For whatever reason I think it scared him. Maybe he thought I was going to tell. Maybe I was just too old for him by then, but he never touched me again after that.
When I was 16 my brother and two sisters told our parents. From what I remember it was Larry, my step-dad, who asked us if anything ever happened with Uncle Jerry. I know that I myself didn’t say much. We just gave them the basics, like the kissing. It wasn’t until years later that my siblings and I told each other. We had all thought we were the only ones. That’s all I’ll say about them, those are their stories to tell if they choose.
Larry stated we would never see him again. Not true. When my sister was 16 she had a baby and Jerry brought his mother aka “crazy bitch” to our house to meet the baby. How sick is that? He held my nephew and nobody reacted. I remember wanting to scream that he shouldn’t be touching him. Instead I just went upstairs until they left. You see, I was not only afraid of Jerry and his mother, but I was scared shitless of Larry my whole life. He is the other side of this story for me.
Jerry and Larry were held in very high regard in this family, one a priest and, the other a police officer. So, what does a cop do when he realizes his brother is a pedophile? In this case nothing. I wondered why? As the years went by I found out that Larry knew about his brother from the time he was 13. Jerry’s first victim was their little sister. She was 5 years old when Larry walked in on Jerry molesting her in her bed. So, he knew the whole time what his brother was and brought him around his children. Crazy? Yes, he is as crazy as his brother. Not a pedophile by any means but a protector of one and somewhat violent. He is an extremely controlling man who always gets his way. I believe with everything in me that he was not only protecting his brother but himself and his reputation. I think he is a textbook sociopath, with a psychopath brother.
I walked on eggshells my entire childhood and for years afterwards. Through the years I learned about a man named, Will Lynch. I heard about his lawsuit first in 1997 and for some reason tried to keep up with his story. In 2003 he did an interview for the L.A. Times along with me and my siblings, we naively thought Jerry might go to jail over the article. On October 30, 2010, I got a phone call from a good friend who works for my local paper. He told me someone beat up my uncle. My first response was, “Was it Will Lynch?’ I always knew that Will would be the one to do something. I didn’t know what, but I just knew somehow. I had the same thoughts over the years that he had. I even planned a trip there with my best friend once. Will did it for me though. He did it for all of us. This is how I know you can trust him. He’s the bravest person I know he put his freedom and life on the line for this cause.
I went to Will’s trial thinking a lot of different things…that it would help me…that I could support Will and that I could finally face Jerry. I was supposed to testify, but the judge changed his mind after Jerry plead the fifth. I did see him though when he got off the elevator, I froze like a statue. After all these years I couldn’t believe how scared I was. I hadn’t considered the negative things that could happen while I was there.
I was elated when Will was acquitted of course, but through the weeks I was there I couldn’t sleep really at all, and could barely eat anything. I lost twelve pounds, and felt physically ill the whole time. When I got home it continued, I didn’t understand this. I thought I would feel better knowing Will was okay. The lack of sleep and inability to eat went on for about three months. Then I just gave up, I rarely got out of bed. When I did I just felt like zombie going through the motions of my life. What the hell was wrong with me? We won right? I now think that I just wanted that to be the end it for me and, when it wasn’t I was pissed. I was mostly mad at myself. Again, why? I realized why a few months ago. I knew I should share my story. I kept telling myself I would. I’ve thought it about everyday. I know that telling these stories helps others and I felt guilty that I couldn’t do it. So I spoke to Will one day a few months ago, he might not remember, but he helped me get my ass up and I’ve gained nine pounds back since then. If he can do it, I can too. He is truly inspiring, even when he doesn’t know he’s doing it.
I knew then that I would tell my story, but kept putting it off – until Friday when I read Amanda Beam’s post. I want to thank her for that, I don’t know why, but that did it for me. There were other victims of Jerry’s that I knew about and always thought that if I had said something maybe it wouldn’t have happened to them. I got to meet them at Will’s trial, they’re amazing and I also want to thank them for helping me realize I couldn’t have stopped it and I shouldn’t feel guilty. I love you guys…you know who you are. I’m ready now to help in this fight. The statutes of limitations MUST to be eliminated. I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen.