The Predator in My Hometown
I grew up in Refugio—pronounced Re-fear-e-o—Texas, a small town of less than 5,000 (less than 3,000 now), some 40 miles northwest of Corpus Christi.
The town’s name defines it, having been adopted from Nuestra Señora del Refugio, the last Spanish mission to be founded in today’s Texas. In 1793 the mission was established near Port Lavaca. In 1795, it was moved some 10 miles or so up the Mission river from Copano Bay, to a site on the river’s northern bank where Our Lady of Refuge Catholic church currently continues the ministry of the original mission.
Hurricane Harvey hit land on August 26, 2017, at Rockport on the north side of Copano Bay, then it crossed the bay and devastated Refugio and its neighbor, Woodsboro, then Goliad and on to Victoria, Houston and southeast Texas.
Let me be clear: Refugio was, and is one of the safest towns anywhere, excluding, of course, its vulnerability to natural disaster. Growing up there, I was never bodily injured, except for a hugely busted lip inflicted upon me in football practice. I never abused another human being. My models of sexual behavior were my parents and the parents of my closest friends. And to this day, I have believed that we youth were taught exceptionally well how to treat the opposite sex and beyond that, how to relate to and respect all people.
But I did have a traumatic sexual experience when I was age 15. I was sexually advanced upon by a pedophile. The event left no lasting damage of which I’m aware. Yet I still can remember the man’s name, Bob Lacorse, and the time and day of the week it happened..
Lacorse was well-known around town. He was single, never married, and perhaps in his late forties when I was in high school. He worked for an oil company and lived in a solitary white frame house about a dozen miles from town. Regularly, he was seen at ball games escorting a group of four or five boys, who were often the children of broken homes. The townspeople would comment to one another about how good it was for Lacorse to help the boys. I do not recall ever hearing adults comment on Lacorse’s sexual inclinations.
But a few years later, when in college, I did hear about Lacorse's pedophilia from friends who had lived near him; however, even then, I was still rather naive about sexual intimacies and, to be frank, was mostly confused by what I was told. In the years since, I have continued to add to my never-finished, always evolving understanding of life's greatest mysteries. I write here in that vein.
My junior year in high school, Dad took me to the state basketball tournament in Austin, something he loved to do. But he had to return home before the finals, which I wanted to see. Lacorse was there with “his gang,” and offered Dad a ride home for me. I could stay overnight at his place, and he’d make sure I got home in time for church on Sunday morning.
It was very late on Saturday, or very early on Sunday, when I went to sleep in the Lacorse home. Early in the morning, around 7:00, I was awakened by Lacorse’s rubbing my genitals from behind and speaking softly. I started trembling. I couldn’t stop trembling. I trembled so much that Lacorse stopped, directed me to get dressed and said he’d take me home. On the way into town, he repeatedly told me what a nice boy I was and how unlike the other boys I was.
I never said a word to my folks about the incident. And other than having shared this story with my wife, I’ve never before told it to anyone.
Were there other sexual misadventures in Refugio during my growing up years. Probably. No, make that, For sure! But as was the practice of the times, they were not the subject of widespread public discussion.