This is definitely not my normal review of films and television series. This isn’t about imaginary monsters: zombies, vampires, and ghosts…no…this review concerns a documentary about survivors of sexual child abuse. There are real monsters in this world, and they prey on the vulnerable. They are the murderers of souls.
A Peloton of One
What exactly is a peloton, and why did Dave Ohlmuller take this solo bike journey to bring healing to himself and other victims. A peloton is a cycling term that simply means a group of riders. When riding in a peloton, the riders gain the utmost speed while keeping each other safe. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a priest, Dave Ohlmuller set on a journey from Chicago to New York in an attempt to not only raise awareness of the many victims of sexual abuse by priests, but to also help change the laws on the statute of limitations.
Directed by Steven E. Mallorca and John Bernardo, the documentary A Peloton of One is a personal story about a man coming to terms with his abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest. When a child is abused by someone that they have come to trust, the scars last forever. There is no getting over it, like so many people recommend. Sexual abuse is an attack not only of the child’s body, but also of the child’s sense of who they are as a person. Sometimes, therapy helps, but the scars are forever there, keeping that person from growing both spiritually and mentally. As Dave rides his bike across country, he meets other victims, and we the viewer get to hear their stories.
The stories are painful, and I felt as though I was experiencing the abuse as each of the victims told their tale. Although the majority of victims were abused by priests, there were some who were abused by family members. One of the victims of abuse by a priest is Joe Capozzi who is also one of the co-producers. Joe’s story is heartbreaking. Joe was part of the team that followed and filmed Dave’s bicycle journey.
The main reason for the journey was to bring about a change in the law, and to make the Catholic Church accountable for its protection of predatory priests. The Catholic Church even has powerful insurance companies on their side because the insurance companies don’t want to pay the victims. There are senators who won’t even consider changing the law for the Statute of Limitations even when they are presented with studies showing that most victims don’t come open with their abuse until they are in their thirties.
We, as the viewers, get a bird’s eye view of each state Dave cycles though. We are with him as he meets other survivors. We watch as Dave tries to come to terms with his own abuse. Dave, unable to deal with the abuse had turned to alcohol and drugs. The only thing that saved him was playing tennis and riding the bike…but he does need more work, and at the end of the film, we are all cheering for his recovery.
When I attended a Catholic Elementary School in Philadelphia, we children all knew of a predatory priest. He didn’t bother the girls, but he definitely went after the boys. We knew, but our parents though it was just gossiping. “No man of God would do that,” we were told. Well guess what, when the church was investigated in 2005, that priest at our school was on the list. The Church was very good at moving and hiding the pedophiles within its organization. They still are.
This film will be hard to watch because of its subject matter, but it is also uplifting because of Dave’s bravery and the bravery of the other survivors. There are good people out there trying to change the laws to protect children, and they need our support. A Peloton of One will be released on Digital and VOD on February 18th. I hope it will make its way to Netflix.