A former Catholic priest who admitted to raping two young boys died just eight months into a 20-year prison sentence.
75-year-old Wayland Yoder Brown died of natural causes on June 8, having been in prison since entering his guilty plea last year.
“It’s too soon to have an official ruling, but it was expected,” [South Carolina Corrections Department spokeswoman Chrysti ] Shain said of Brown’s death. “There’s nothing suspicious.”
Brown had already been dismissed from the priesthood and served five years imprisoned in Maryland for sexually abusing two other boys when he was indicted by South Carolina prosecutors in 2017.
The 20-year sentence stems from a case originating in Georgia, where the government said Brown sexually abused two young boys — two different boys than the ones in Maryland — 30 years earlier. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah paid the victim $4.5 million as part of a settlement in one of those cases. A prosecution couldn’t occur in Georgia, though, because the statute of limitations had expired. However, some of the assaults occurred in neighboring South Carolina, where there’s no statute of limitations at all, so prosecutors took their case there.
Brown entered the courtroom in Beaufort County, South Carolina, in a wheelchair Oct. 28 when he pleaded guilty to nine counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Outside the courthouse, Solicitor Duffie Stone detailed how Brown had attacked the boys at a church, a nature preserve and an abandoned train depot.
Brown had worn his priest’s collar while abusing the boys, Stone said, and prayed the rosary with them afterward.
The tragedy is bad enough, but he made the victims pray with him after the act as if that was forgiveness enough? Disgusting. It’s awful that he wasn’t able to spend more time behind bars. Death gave him an early escape he didn’t deserve. One of the victims was “conflicted” about the death, but said “I think I know where he is,” a not-so-subtle reference to Hell.
If I believed in Hell, that would at least be encouraging. But there is no cosmic punishment for what he did. Only the ones our justice system gives him. And unfortunately, Brown was able to get away with his crimes for far too long after they occurred. His faith gave him an alibi, he left his victims traumatized for life, and he paid a relatively minimal price all because it took this long to finally prosecute him.
Who knows how many other victims never spoke up because they knew there would never be real justice.
(Screenshot via ABC News 4. Thanks to Som for the link)