Former Savannah priest pleads guilty to sex abuse charges

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(WSAV) – A former Savannah Priest made it official on Tuesday, admitting he abused some of his own students.

Wayland Brown faced off with two of his own victims in a Beaufort County courtroom as he made his guilty plea.

The disgraced former Catholic Priest was wheeled into the Beaufort County courtroom, there to admit to crimes when he was a younger priest at St James school. his victims, now men, were there to face him.

“I was unable to look at myself in the mirror,” said Allan Ranta, one of Brown’s victims. “I felt like i had a parasite coursing trhough my body at all times.”

Brown abused Allan Ranta in 1979 when he was just 9 and Chris Templeton when he was 12 in 1986. Both blocked out the abuse for decades. But the images, the visuals, the memories came flooding back, with devastating effects.

“I lost 15 pounds in the first week,” said Ranta. “and would lay naked on the bathroom floor with gutteral creams crying out like a terrified child being tortured by Father Wayland Brown.”

“I mourn my 12 year old and 13 year old self,” said Chris Templeton, abuse victim. “I feel bad that I wasn’t able to save him.”

Brown, who already was serving time in Maryland on abuse charges, now admitting to nine counts of sexual battery and abuse in South Carolina. Charges stemming from when he took the boys from Savannah, across state lines to molest them in churches, parks and a train depot in Hardeeville.

The criminal case brought to South Carolina because the statute of limitations in Georgia had run out. 

Brown heard the charges, and made his plea.

“Sexual Abuse of Chris Templeton at the Catholic Chuirch how do you plead to that charge?”
“Guilty” said Wayland Brown.

Nine charges in all, sexual battery and abuse of both Chris Templeton and Allan Ranta.

Tears flowed freely after that plea, as both men finally got the closure they wanted.. and deserved.

“I believe the victory is today,’ said Templeton. “Because we are going to help other people. I believe this will help the others that are still suffering and still lonely and still sad and feel like they would rather die, or they can’t kill themselves, to have an opportunity to get help.”

After listening to his victims statements, Brown then addressed the court. But the disgraced Priest would not place any blame on the church. 

“The priests, the Bishops, had no knowledge of what was going on,” said Wayland Brown. “I don’t think they should be held responsible for the selfishness of my own doing.”

But that statement won’t stop the many questions the victims will have for the rest of their lives.

“To deceased Bishop Lassard, why didn’t you stop Father Wayland Brown from raping children?” asked Ranta. “Bishop John Kevin Boland, why didn’t you stop father Wayland Brown from raping children? Bishop Gregory Hartmeyer, what are you going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”

Brown was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors and victims all admitting he will most likely die before finishing his sentence.

A hotline has been set up to find anyone in Georgia, South Carolina or around the nation who may have been abused by Wayland Brown. Or anyone who may have information for investigators about Brown or his victims.

That number is 912-652-8080. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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