Apology & Resolution

Scroll to the very bottom for the latest updates...(January 30, 2019 update)


On January 9, 2015, the Observer Newspaper of the Diocese of Rockford published the following regarding the resolution to what happened March 27, 2014: "Case Against Msgr. Brodeski Resolved" 

To bring clarity to this situation and to express my apology, I share the letter below:


January 15, 2015
Dear friends in Christ,

As I write to you today, I am relieved that I am finally able to share the details of my recent arrest.  This whole situation has caused so much hurt and confusion to the people whom I love - family, friends, brother priests, and those of you whom I've served in my priestly ministry.  I am so deeply sorry for that and offer the sincerest apology to all of you.  I would like to share a brief summary of what happened in the hope that it will help everyone make sense of this and help bring clarity and closure to a very painful situation. The truth is that I would never knowingly and willingly expose myself to anyone, as I was initially charged by the State. The mere thought of it is repulsive to me in every way.


It was my day off and I spent the day at a small house I own near Rockford.  I was quite tired, and knew I needed a long afternoon nap, so I took Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) to help make me drowsy, but I still could not fall asleep. I've used Benadryl for years for my allergies and knew it was also used as a sleep aid. However, instead of making me drowsy, my mind began to race.  Medical doctors later explained to me that this "mental excitability" is referred to as a "paradoxical reaction" to the medication and is a common side effect.  At the time, I did not realize that this was a reaction to the Benadryl. In a moment of frustration at my inability to sleep, I then drank some alcohol to help make me drowsy.  Within a half hour, the interaction of the alcohol and the medication suddenly and severely affected me.  I should have known better than to drink any alcohol whatsoever after taking medicine but I honestly never expected this reaction.  I expected to take a nap and then go to my parents for dinner before returning to my parish later that evening. I do remember immediately falling asleep.  I do not remember much of anything after that until early the next morning when I woke up still at my house.  But it's clear from the police report, and a couple vague memories I seem to have, that hours later I went to a gas station down the road in what witnesses described as a "trance."


Since that day, medical doctors assessing the situation have concluded that the effect of this combination was not an intoxication with alcohol; rather, it was primarily caused by a side effect of the Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) and resulted in a medical condition known as "Medicinally Induced Delirium" (CPT 292.81).  This is a temporary neurologic condition that literally left me in a catatonic, amnesic, trance-like state of mind.  The diagnosis was based especially upon the detailed descriptions by the witnesses of my mental state that night and an analysis of the well documented side effects of the Diphenhydramine.  The alcohol had an "additive" effect increasing the likeliness that this serious side effect would occur.  (See medical report below).  Fatigue was also said to have been a contributing factor in the occurrence of this side effect.


Though humiliating, I will share the testimony of witnesses so as to help everyone get a clear picture of that evening while I was experiencing this delirium/confusional state.  They said I was in a trance, kind of walked in circles, had no facial expression or emotion, looked like I was sleepwalking with my eyes open, was pacing, just walked around in the back of the store, was staring in one spot, looked like I was part robot, looked like I was having mental problems, and was unresponsive when spoken to by four different people.  One person states in the police report that I "looked like a toy someone wound up" and had "snapped into a catatonic state." I do not remember this and have never experienced anything like this before. The language of the charge states I "was in an exposed condition." This was said to have happened in my car and in the store. For example, at one point I was described as just standing, staring at a Hostess display in an aisle partly exposed when I was yelled at, told to leave, and told that the police were called.  According to the police report, this particular aisle was not covered by video surveillance which is why there is no video evidence of any exposure.  When yelled at, I was said to have just looked at them with a puzzled look, not responding and not leaving.  I was said to have reacted this way: "He looked at me all shocked, as if people weren't around or he didn't realize what he was doing.  I thought he was like on drugs or had mental issues."  I do not remember this.  I do not even remember being yelled at and told to leave.  Five people present watched me during this delirium episode and gave testimony.   While none of the exposure is seen on any of the surveillance video covering much of the interior and exterior, it is clear from the video that I spent almost 20 minutes at the gas station in this delirium.   Police were called twice while I was there.  Eventually, the video shows I simply walked out and left.  I am, of course, most grateful to God that nothing worse happened as I drove.  I do not remember driving.


I share this because I believe it's important that those of you who know me and have expressed your concern, understand what happened.  I'm especially grateful to the witnesses of my behavior for their cooperation and willingness to help explain this night.  I would not have known what happened without their help.  I especially apologize to those of you who were there that night.  I'm also grateful for the extremely helpful insights from the medical doctors involved.


After submitting to the State two detailed medical evaluations, additional witness testimony obtained through the willing cooperation of witnesses, and the results of a psychological exam, the indecent exposure charges were dropped since there was no sexual intent involved.  In exchange, I agreed to a reduced and more general misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct because of the fact that alcohol was involved.  A period of court supervision was also offered for this charge rather than a conviction. Upon the completion of the period of Court Supervision, all charges will be fully dismissed without any criminal conviction of guilt of any kind. (Scroll down for update on expungement)


I am so sorry for this.  It truly breaks my heart that it has caused so much hurt and confusion.  I sincerely apologize to everyone affected, and I ask for your forgiveness.  I have already entrusted it to God's mercy, and now I ask for yours.  And I promise my continued daily prayers for all of you.  I especially promise to remember you in my daily private Mass and rosaries.


Sincerely in Christ,

Father Aaron Brodeski




Excerpts from one of the medical reports (I am happy to share the full report to anyone who wants to see it in person):


I have been asked to review the behavior of Monsignor Aaron Brodeski on the night of March 27, 2014...


I have been informed that the witnesses to his behavior had described his neurologic state using the following quotes:


“He seemed to be in a trance. He didn’t even blink, almost like he was fixated on something.  I do not believe he was drunk or high.”

"He did not say anything and he appeared to be on drugs."

“He kind of walked in circles.”

“He was told to leave and he did not respond and he did not leave.”

“He appeared to be under the influence of something.  I did not smell anything but his eyes were red.”

“Upon entering the store he stood around the back of the store and just walked around.”

“The guy was not acting normal. He was staring in one spot, and it did not appear that he was staring at one particular thing.  He just appeared out of it.”

“He looked at me with a puzzled look and did not respond.”


It is important to point out that these observances are immensely clinically revealing...


The reason these descriptions are invaluable from a clinical perspective relates to a scientific approach in an objective attempt to accurately diagnosis what was wrong with Monsignor Brodeski that night.  The specific descriptions are pathognomonic for a delirium.1  


...this delirium state would be either due to a serious acute illness or a drug induced delirium.2  One condition the descriptions would definitely NOT be consistent with is intoxication with alcohol.  Though alcohol certainly can cause a delirium and altered mental status, virtually every lay person is well aware of the presentation of a person with an altered mental status induced by alcohol alone.  Alcohol’s direct effect on the brain does not cause a “trance like state” ...


With an understanding of Diphenhydramine’s effect on the brain and the history of the concomitant use of alcohol, it is obvious Monsignor’s behavior, as described by the witnesses, was a medicinal induced delirium.  Alcohol does NOT cause the described behavior.  The only other rational medical explanation for an acute delirium would be if Monsignor were suffering from a serious acute illness or infection.  But to have an illness to cause such change in his mental state, he would have been hospitalized that night to save his life.  Thus, the only possible explanation for such an acute delirium in this case would be a direct result of an adverse side effect to Diphenhydramine.2*


Diphenhydramine is well known to cause significant mental status changes even at standard dosing and these serious potential side effects are well described in the medical literature.3,4,5,6  Even a cursory review of the potential side effects of Diphenhydramine on Drugs.com, Safetymedical.net, or even Wikipedia will reveal such potential adverse neurologic reactions as “somnolence”, “delirium”, “altered mental status”, “frightening hallucinations”, “confusion”, “mental impairment”, “amnesia”, “dystonia”, and even “seizures”.    ...


...Diphenhydramine is banned in one country as a result of these significant side effects.  The stark medical reality is that even “controlled substance” medications like Valium or Xanax are exponentially safer and less likely to cause central nervous system side effects...  


One additional point that should be made is the additive effect of alcohol on Diphenhydramine.  Alcohol increases the likelihood that Diphenhydramine will cause these serious adverse side effects.7,8  The appropriate general medical advice is that alcohol should be avoided in a patient using Diphenhydramine...  Alcohol’s effect on Diphenhydramine is additive and the most dangerous interaction with their combination specifically involves Diphenhydramine’s effect on the Central Nervous System. ...Diphenhydramine is clearly one of the most notorious medications to cause these serious neurologic side effects.    ...  


In a state of medicinal induced delirium, a patient is not culpable of his behavior.  Delirium is an acute neurologic disease resulting in loss of control of a person’s rational will and it is subsequently associated with complete amnesia of their delirious behavior when the delirium has resolved.


...Upon serious review of the lucid descriptions of his behavior, the medical history, the medications involved, and the clinical outcome, there can be no doubt as to the diagnosis of Monsignor Brodeski’s mental state that night:  “Medicinal Induced Delirium” (CPT 292.81) caused by Diphenhydramine.  ...had Monsignor Brodeski refrained from taking any Diphenhydramine on March 27, 2014, he would never have been in the delirious mental state…


References:

1.   Josephson, AJ., et al., Confusion and Delirium.  Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 2011.
2.   Inouye, S.,  Delirium or Acute Mental Status Change.  Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 2012. *
3.   Rothberg, M.B, et al., Association between sedating medication and delirium in older patients.  Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2013,61:923-930
4.  Meyer, S., et al., Medicine induced delirium.  Therapeutische Umshau. 2010, 67:79-83.
5.  Agostini, JV., et al., Cognitive and other adverse effects of diphenhydramine use in hospitalized older patients.  Archives of Internal Medicine. 2001, 161:2091-2097.
6.   Church, MK., et al., Risk of first generation anti-histamines.  Allergy. 2010, 65:459-466.
7.   Estelle, F., et al., H-1 receptor antagonists: safety issues.  Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. 1999, 83:481-488.
8.   Paton, DM., et al., Clinical pharmacokinetics of H-1 receptor antagonists(the antihistamines).  Clinical Pharmacokinetics.  1985, 10:477-497.
*This particular citation in Cecil’s Textbook contains an algorithm for assessment of a patient with acute delirium.  Precisely following this algorithm (Figure 27-1, page 118) leads definitively to the diagnosis of diphenhydramine induced delirium for Monsignor Brodeski on the night of March 27, 2014.  No other clinical conclusion can be rationally made.



Updates:

Evaluations complete - During the Spring, summer and fall of 2015, I participated in evaluations from five additional doctors so as to be fully transparent about this unfortunate incident. To date, eight medical and psychological doctors have thoroughly evaluated me and offered detailed reports. All of these reports were given to the Diocese of Rockford and to the States Attorney of Winnebago County. Complete evaluations were conducted by two psychologists, two psychiatrists, an anesthesiologist, a neurologist, a general practitioner and an emergency room physician. Each report is fully consistent with the above excerpt from one of the reports. I am happy to show any of these reports to anyone who wants to see them in person.

Court Supervision period ended early - On August 9, 2016, with the help of the States Attorney of Winnebago County, the period of court supervision was ended early and the remaining disorderly conduct charge was dismissed without a conviction of guilt. The States Attorney supported and cooperated with this early dismissal after receiving all of the above mentioned medical and psychological reports.

Expungement of all records - On October 17, 2018, the request to fully expunge all records of this incident was granted by the State of Illinois. According to Illinois law, an expungement order is only granted to those who have not been convicted of a crime. The order requires that all agencies fully destroy any and all records of this incident, thus clearing the record completely. With this expungement order, I have no arrest record at all.


Also, Attorney General of Illinois takes expungement seriously: http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/pressroom/2009_03/20090317c.html


January 30, 2019 Update - Printable Version

I am happy to announce that, after a very long and thorough three year "extra-judicial" process (trial) at the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, the Church has fully adjudicated my case.  Click here for the Summary Rescript of the resolution from Rome provided to me by the Diocese of Rockford.  Because there has been so much misinformation about what happened initially, as well as much immediate misinformation regarding the actual resolution from the Vatican, I would like to share the details as clearly as possible.

Though the initial incident that led to all of this was an accident, as explained in my above apology letter of January 2015, the Bishop of Rockford decided in the fall of 2015 to put me on trial in the Church so as to thoroughly adjudicate my case at the Vatican.  His goal was to remove me from the priesthood which I vehemently opposed.

The first stage of the trial involved three bishops, canon lawyers, civil lawyers, a lot of documentary evidence (such as the police report and witness affidavits) and expert witness testimony from law enforcement, medical doctors and psychologists.  Upon the gathering of all testimony, the "acts" of the case were sent to the Congregation for the Clergy, Rome, for adjudication.  The compilation of the acts of the case took about a year, and the review of the acts by the Congregation for the Clergy took about two years.

The specific process focused upon the following statute in Canon Law:

Can. 1399 In addition to the cases established here or in other laws, the external violation of a divine or canonical law can be punished by a just penalty only when the special gravity of the violation demands punishment and there is an urgent need to prevent or repair scandals.

This canon deals with "external violations of a divine or canonical law" where scandal has occurred.  The external violation was that I was "in an exposed condition" in a public place.  However, the Church also considers subjective factors that may reduce or even eliminate personal culpability (guilt) for an external violation.  The canons that deal with diminished guilt are outlined in the Code of Canon Law 1323, 1324, 1325.  After their two years of study, they chose to apply Canon 1324 §1 when they said the gravity of the external violation of the Divine Law was lessened because I was in a "diminished state of awareness."  Thus, the Vatican accepted the expert testimony of the numerous medical doctors and psychologists involved.  The Vatican did not make the judgment that I was completely innocent, rather, they said my guilt was lessened.

As a result of this decision, the Vatican Congregation stated that the bishop's request that I be removed from the priesthood “could not be presented to the Holy Father." Instead, the Congregation recommended to the Holy Father that I be given a penalty, a penance and a precept in order to “repair scandal, restore justice and reform the offender.” The Holy Father approved that recommendation. The decision is as follows:
  1. Penalty: "The deprivation of the title of Chaplain to His Holiness with the loss of the designation 'Monsignor.'" Can. 1336 §1.2
  2. Penance: "The imposition of one year of prayer and penance at a location to be determined by the Ordinary of Rockford." Can. 1340
  3. "A penal precept that any subsequent commission of the same delict will result in further penalties, not excluding the permanent expiatory penalty of dismissal from the clerical state."
I should also mention that, upon the resolution of my case in Rome, there were some sensationalized and inaccurate news stories about me once again.  I encourage you to ignore what has come to be known as "fake news."  I believe that the following quote from Pope Francis, which comes from a 2016 interview he gave, addresses my case accurately:

A thing that can do great damage to the information media is disinformation: that is, faced with any situation, saying only a part of the truth, and not the rest. This is disinformation. Because you, to the listener or the observer, give only half the truth, and therefore it is not possible to make a serious judgement. Disinformation is probably the greatest damage that the media can do, as opinion is guided in one direction, neglecting the other part of the truth.


I now look forward to entering into my year of prayer and penance and pray that God's grace will help to repair the hurt and confusion that was caused by this unfortunate incident.

God bless,
Fr. Aaron
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Father Aaron Brodeski,
Mar 1, 2019, 6:00 PM
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Father Aaron Brodeski,
Feb 8, 2019, 9:41 PM