Matthew Feeney was a prominent talent agent when he was charged with molesting two boys who were his clients. He claims he did nothing wrong, but the FOX 9 Investigators found Feeney's own words paint a startling picture.
If Feeney's job was to cast performers in just the right role, one might wonder what role he considered for himself -- and what role would best fulfill what he once called his "temptation."
"I can tell you what my trigger was," Feeney told a longtime advocate for sexual abuse survivors as he disclosed his attraction to boys between the age of 14 and 15. "I can tell you when I fell off the wagon."
It's already known that Feeney's victims span decades -- and possibly the country, but Feeney says he stayed away from teen boys in the years following three child sex abuse convictions in 1992. While he has repeatedly refused to give details about what he's done in recent years, Feeney did make an admission that some of his actions were "definitely" inappropriate while he was being recorded in secret.
The advocate for sex abuse survivors gave the recording to the FOX 9 Investigators, who also videotaped the encounter.
Court documents detail a trail of victims over decades -- some proven and some yet to be proven -- beginning as far back as the fall of 1990 and as recently as 2011. They also reveal a man who seems to want to make amends for what he has done, but not at his own expense.
"An honest person does 25 years. You've got nothing, no way to negotiate. The only defense you have is to keep your mouth shut and say, 'You've got to prove the case and make everybody -- including the kids -- go through this,'" Feeney said.
If convicted on the charges he now faces in Washington County, Feeney will face a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment. Last month, he appeared in court to face accusations he had molested two boys while they slept over at his home.
According to the criminal complaint, the boys are brothers -- and they and their parents met Feeney through his former casting agency, Walden Entertainment.
The boys' parents told FOX 9 News Feeney would often host X-Box parties with other children, and they let their sons go because they trusted that other children and parents would be there too.
Those who know Feeney told FOX 9 News he often would work to win the parents' trust as part of his "grooming process," which included showering the children with gifts.
That trust continued when the boys insisted everything was fine, and experts say that's not uncommon because predators put children in an awkward position of choosing between special benefits, gifts and attention or going against someone with high status and a position of authority.
The mother of the boys in the Washington County case told FOX 9 News Feeney was very believable -- until her youngest son fell to the ground and started crying, telling her Feeney had touched his privates.
"I almost passed out. For a second, everything stopped," she said. "Everything in my world stopped."
She then called her oldest son in and watched as her 6-foot-tall teen also fell to the floor in tears, saying, "Oh no."
"I said, 'I need to know the truth,'" the boys' mother recalled. "He said, 'Yes, mom. He molested me too.'"
The teen then told his mother he never thought his 9-year-old brother was experience the same thing -- and that is young for Feeney, even by his own admission.
"I'm not interested in somebody that age," Feeney said. "It's just … it would be like being comfortably gay and then some chick comes up and says, 'Hey, you want some?'"
However, that doesn't mean he wouldn't keep contact.
"It was basically like, 'Hang around him, 'cause in four or five years, he'll be old enough to be someone I'd be interested in," Feeney said.
After the news of the Washington County case broke in March 2012, yet another Minnesota mother had a painful talk with her teenaged son.
"He leaned forward and he grabbed my hand and he started crying," she recalled.
Two years earlier, the then-12-year-old and his mother stayed at a Wisconsin campground with Feeney and some other friends, sharing a large tent with him and a few others.
"Mind you, my son is sleeping next to me -- huddled up, 'cause it was cold," she said.
Court documents claim Feeney rubbed the boy's abdomen with his foot and tugged on his pajama bottoms with his toes. The boy said he thought Feeney was trying to get his pants down.
"A few minutes later, my son woke me up and said he was cold and asked if I would take him to the truck to sleep," she recalled.
That it happened while she was present makes her fear Feeney as dangerously brazen, she said -- and she's also frustrated that St. Croix County won't prosecute the case as an attempted sex crime. The district attorney told the FOX 9 Investigators he can't prove what Feeney was really up to -- but here's what Feeney said.
"I was testing the waters," he said.
Feeney said the boy had joked around with him during the day, something the much older man perceived as flirting.
"I was trying to see if there was anything to read into it," Feeney said, adding that it may have gone another step if the boy had reacted.
The parents of the boys say the scariest thing is the knowledge that their boys may not have come forward at all if they hadn't heard that Feeney had been accused of abusing a boy in Massachusetts in 2011.
Court documents from that case identify the victim as the son of a relative Feeney had been visiting, accusing Feeney of climbing into bed with the boy and putting his hand down the boy's pajama pants.
Parents and police fear there may be many more victims, and the Massachusetts victim said he is worried too because Feeney has been dressing up as Santa Claus for 21 years -- including at a home day care in Eden Prairie as recently as 2011.
It appears Feeney has struggled -- at least off-and-on -- for his entire adult life with what he called his "dark side."
In a journal from the early 1990s, Feeney wrote, "It would be so much easier to simply be gay. At least you could find some support and acceptance from others who share your feelings. How many support groups are there for potential child molesters? Call it what you want. That's what I am. I am a monster."
In the journal, Feeney also writes about going outside and shooting himself, saying, "at least the kids would be safe from me and my temptation."
Yet, it seems Feeney may have succumbed to that temptation. The journal landed in the hands of police investigators in 1992 after a boy accused Feeney of molesting him in his sleep while he stayed at Feeney's home in St. Cloud. Feeney was the boy's youth counselor at St. Joe's Catholic Church at the time.
In a statement to a detective obtained by the FOX 9 Investigators, Feeney admitted to fondling 10 or a dozen boys in their sleep, mostly while he was serving as a counselor at the Catholic youth camp near Milaca. He said 90 percent of those victims were 14, 15, or 16 years old.
That confession has many wondering how Feeney was able to continue, but Aitkin County filed charges in only two of the cases Feeney confessed to because the other boys said they didn't remember anything happening -- but it doesn't appear they interviewed all the alleged victims Feeney admitted molesting.
In 1992, Feeney pleaded guilty to abusing one boy at his home and two at camp. Instead of a year in prison, Feeney was sentenced to six months in jail, ten years of probation and had to go into sex offender treatment.
Now, Feeney is claiming he wants to make amends to the boys in the current cases and wanting to avoid trial for the sake of the children.
"They are out for blood," Feeney said. "They want to put me away for the rest of my God d---- life, and that's not exactly appropriate for what I've been accused for either."