By Mark Ellis, Special to ASSIST News Service
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (May 12, 2015) — He grew up poor in “the projects” of Clinton, Massachusetts, raised by a single mom who worked the graveyard shift to make ends meet.
“Dad lived in the area but he didn’t help out,” says Tim Fortugno. “We were starving for him to be that father figure, to be on the scene, but he constantly disappointed.”
Tim and his two brothers lived in one bedroom in the small apartment, with about two feet between each of their beds. His mother and sister were in the adjoining rooms. “It was HUD housing. The bus dropped me off every day where the poor kids lived.”
At 10-years-old Tim gained a step-dad, “Butch,” a thick-set, beer-swilling, Vietnam vet with a panther tattoo on his arm. “He was an intimidating personality,” Tim says.
One of Tim’s chores was to clear the table after dinner. After the meal, Tim faithfully put the condiments away in the refrigerator, but he failed to screw the top on the mustard jar tightly.
Butch grabbed the mustard and it fell, splattering mustard all over the floor. “You didn’t screw the mustard cap on!” Butch yelled.
As a result of this relatively minor infraction, Butch confined Tim to his bedroom for the entire summer. “He grounded me to my bedroom in my pajamas 24-7. I only could come out for meals,” Tim recalls. “I could hear the kids outside playing all day long.”
Not long after this, Tim learned an awful secret from his 11-year-old sister. Butch was sexually abusing the young girl. “He would send mom out shopping and he would sneak into her room,” he says.
“This was in the late 70s and you didn’t talk about sexual abuse then,” he says. “Nobody knew how to handle it.”
One day Tim was so angry he confronted Butch. “I know what you’re doing,” he told the man when they were alone.
“What are you talking about?”
“I know what you’re doing and I’m telling mom!” he blurted out.
Butch’s face got red and pulled close to Tim as he stuck his finger in the boy’s chest. “I could kill you with this one finger,” Butch said, menacingly.
About the writer: Mark Ellis is a senior correspondent for ASSIST News Service and also the founder of www.Godreports.com , a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest and involvement in world missions.
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