Tied Up

01.09.13

Five Shocking Facts About the Bondage Priest’s 911 Call

It was Father Donovan, in the rectory, with the handcuffs. A mysterious 911 call from a priest who allegedly handcuffed and gagged himself in his own rectory has the internet dumbfounded: what was he doing? Here are five of the shocking things we know so far.

It’s not everyday that you—wait, who are we kidding—it’s not any day that you hear the words priest, bondage, and 911 in one sentence. Naturally, then, when an Illinois priests’ 911 “I’m stuck in handcuffs” phone call went viral, his jarring mid-call confession “I (was) playing with them” sent us into a tailspin of “wait … what??. Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike are still scratching their heads, muffling their giggles, and asking for the real story of what went down that November day.

It’s the kind of case Sherlock Holmes’ dreams are made of. But considering he’s across the pond, busy, and fictional, we’ll give it a stab instead. Here are the five most shocking things about the bondage-priest’s 911 call. (Important note: he has taken a leave of absence, but is otherwise okay).

1. He was excessively polite throughout the entire 911 phone call.

When the dispatcher first answers Father Donovan’s November 28th call, he could barely understand him. “I. AM STUCK. IN A PAIR. A HANKUHS” was, sort of, what Father D said. But once the two got on the same page—“Okay so you’re stuck in a pair of handcuffs?”—Father Donovan becomes the nicest, tied-up priest that ever lived. Asked if he’s located at a business, the pastor responds with emphatic verve: “Yes!” Questioned about whether or not he’s at a business, he gives a jolly: “Yes I am!” Keeping up his friendly (albeit muffled) tone, Father Donovan assures the dispatcher—more than once—that he will “be there” when the police arrive. So nice! Also… unnecessary.

2. He was allegedly wearing a bondage mask, and it was leather.

Unfortunately, Father Donovan’s polite phone call didn’t include an “Oh yeah, plus I’m wearing a gag mask” but hey, let’s cut the man some slack. When police did arrive on the scene they found an even stranger setup than the one they had prepared for. Not only was Father Donovan handcuffed, in his own rectory, but he was donning a  “leather bondage mask” that covered his face and sent a “metal bar” into his mouth.

3. He was dressed in a bright orange jump suit.

Do they even sell bright orange jump suits? The police on the scene were in for more than one surprise at the St. Aloysius rectory. Instead of the typical clerical clothing that Father Donovan most likely wore for the church’s daily 6 a.m. mass, the police report says that he was dressed in an “orange jump suit.” Props for creativity.

4. He was incapacitatedyet completely alone.

One of the eerier (or, in light of the church’s sex-abuse scandals, reassuring) details of the story is that fact that Father Donovan was completely and entirely, alone.

He makes this clear early on in the phone call:

“Are you the only one there?”

“Yes I am!”

Father Donovan was donning a “leather bondage mask” that covered his face and sent a “metal bar” into his mouth.

When the police arrived on the scene, they found Father Tom Donovan, and no one else. This solitude begs not only the question of how he got himself into the handcuffs but why? Speculation of “Houdini-esque feats of self-imprisonment abounds, but no one’s sure yet exactly what his game plan was.

5. Father Donovans request for leave of absence was accepted by Thomas Paprocki, the Bishop of Springfield Illionois. Coincidentally, Paprocki is also making headlines this week, after his outspoken, incendiary views on same-sex marriage.

Quoted in the The llinois Times, spokeswoman for the diocese of Springfield, Kathie Sass, said Father Donovan requested a leave of absence not long after the incident. His request was accepted by Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Catholic diocese of Springfield, Illinois. Sass refused to disclose whether or not Donovan was staying at a church-affiliated location and would not offer up an explanation for the incident. What’s more fascinating about this fact, however, is Paprocki himself, who also happens to be in the news. Paporocki made headlines when he testified against Illinois’ proposed marriage-equality bill, arguing that same-sex marriage would undermine the “natural family.”