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Since my last post, I have spoken briefly with an investigator.  I am looking forward to a more in-depth interview with him.  He initially offered to meet me here in Virginia until he realized that I was much further south than he expected.  Contact has been made.  He seems to be working a very large case load for the Diocese of Scranton, which is not surprising at all because the bishops there were protecting a number of predator priests.

I will let you know when a more detailed interview is conducted and I will pass any information that is made available to me.

If you share an experience similar to my own within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I urge you to contact the Attorney General’s hotline at 1-888-538-8541 .

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I wrote a blog post in February, 2013 titled “Is there a Survivors’ Community” in which I was looking for answers from survivors about our community, our way forward and who speaks for us.  In May,2013 I expressed my frustration in another post, “Crickets, Silence on the net…” that I did not hear from anyone in the survivor’s community.  According to the analytics I see on this blog, plenty of people read the original but no one offered their thoughts.

Here we are again and I am wondering why we can’t move forward.  I am wondering what the factors are in keeping us separated, unorganized and losing ground in efforts to change legislation and have society take the problem of sexual abuse and rape of children and vulnerable adults seriously.

A reporter contacted me a while back on a story concerning a priest accused of molesting a young boy.  He had already published the story but wanted my feedback.  He had used a quote from SNAP for the article, the same inane drivel that the National Director of that organization generically applies to any and all cases of abuse on which he is queried.  It made me wonder.

What is it going to take?  What would it take to get a coherent message from the survivor community to articulate the message that children and vulnerable adults are at risk from predators who enjoy a certain level of top cover from institutions who are more concerned with a risk management strategy than with the protection of those who need it most?  Is there a way that the message can be successfully crafted and articulated?  Can it be molded into a strategy that allows for the development of stronger laws to protect victims and enable the predators and their protectors to be held accountable both criminally and civilly?   Can we develop a voice that is institutionally agnostic and not narrowly focused on the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of American, Penn State or any other notorious institution with a history of child sexual crimes?

The other side of this argument is well-organized and well-funded.  Despite the fact that organizations like the Catholic League are notorious for spewing lies and portraying victims as predators or being responsible for the abuse inflicted upon them,  we have no credible organization, at the national level, that can present a coherent case for the need for change in legislation, education, institutional culture, and society in dealing with predators who prey on children.  We have no credible counters on Fox News to the Bill Donohues of the world.

We don’t need shrill fundraisers who only seem to hang around looking for the next donation to pay the salary or travel expenses for the next hit and run media opportunity. (It must be convention time again.) We need serious people who can step up and credibly do the work.  We need to actually network the survivors of child sexual abuse, their supporters, law enforcement, the criminal justice system and the legislatures in all the states to move in the direction of making the punishment so vile for crimes of this nature for both the predator and the institution that protects the predator that there is no where for the predator to find a safe haven.

As with many stories, the public eventually gets weary and loses interest.  That is what institutions like the Catholic Church want.  They want everything to blow over, go away, disappear.  The predators want that as well so that they may return to the business of grooming their next victim.  Perhaps it is time to find our national voice, our national strategy, our universal calling to actually effect a long-lasting change.  The shrill voices from Chicago and St. Louis have proven that they are not up to the task.   Who will step up?

Are you still out there?

 

The following is the content of an email I received yesterday from the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse (FACSA):

Over the many months of the current PA Legislature’s session our team has continued to monitor for legislative efforts that will protect children from sexual predators and provide some measure of justice for CSA victims. Most recently there were several pieces of legislation signed into law by Gov. Corbett including the following changes:

  • Designated state licensing boards will now be required to provide training on child abuse recognition and reporting.
  • New provisions clarify who is mandated to report child abuse and the reporting process they must follow to report suspected abuse to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.
  • Employees will now be protected from discrimination in the workplace as a result of reporting suspected abuse.
  • Penalties will increase for those required to report supposed abuse but fail to do so.

Additionally a bill providing for stable funding of Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) in PA was also signed by Gov. Corbett. CACs are multidisciplinary treatment programs for abused children, which brings together doctors, nurses, prosecutors, social workers and law enforcement. This approach gives abused children the best chance to recover and also provides the most effective way to gather evidence to bring perpetrators to justice. There are currently 21 CACs in PA.

However, although more than one dozen “child protection” laws have been enacted to date, none enable the removal of known pedophiles.

One champion for this much needed legislation is Rep. Mark Rozzi. Rep. Rozzi represents part of Berks County. He and some childhood friends were victims of CSA. Rep. Rozzi has introduced several pieces of legislation to help protect children and promote justice for victims.

  • You are Invited!

Please join us in Harrisburg on Wednesday April 30th to support Rep. Mark Rozzi’s HB 2067 and after the press conference join one of our teams who will be meeting with key legislators to ask for their support of this important legislation.

PRESS CONFERENCE INFO:
Rep. Mark Rozzi Press Conference on HB 2067
WHEN: Wed. April 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM
WHERE: Capitol Media Center, Room 1 East Wing of Capitol, Harrisburg, PA

How do you get there? 

MEETING WITH LEGISLATORS:
If you are interested in joining one of our teams who will be meeting with legislators after the press conference, please contact Tammy Lerner at 610-509-9568 or email her at lerner@abolishsexabuse.org to sign on. You will need to arrive at our legislative team’s office across from the Capitol Building in Harrisburg no later than 9:00 AM  to review plans for the day.

MORE INFO RE: HB 2067:
HB 2067 does several things:

  • Going forward, it permanently eliminates the SOL for child sex abuse, both criminally (now to age 50) and civilly (now to age 30)
  • As a compromise, it does allow for previously time-barred victims (up to age 50) to bring suit.
  • If the perpetrator was employed by a public or private entity that owed a duty of care for the victim, damages against the entity may be awarded with a finding of “gross negligence”.
  • Add “child sex abuse” as an exception to immunity laws thereby removing the “sovereign immunity” defense for public officials and institutions.

Why this legislation is important:

  • Victims deserve their day in court.
  • It takes courage (and often decades) for children to acknowledge abuse.
  • Perpetrators and responsible entities have not been held accountable.
  • Perpetrators are still involved with children.
  • Perpetrators have been deliberately shielded from prosecution.
  • The SOL laws are arbitrary and archaic.
  • Only lawmakers have the power to enact laws to protect the public.
  • Although more than one dozen “child protection” laws have been enacted to date, none enable the removal of known pedophiles.
  • HB 2067 is sound public policy.

Below is part of an e-mail Rep. Rozzi recently sent to his colleagues to encourage them to support HB 2067:

“Once again I am appealing to the sense of civic responsibility that leads every one of us to seek public office.  As legislators, we have an obligation to institute laws that safeguard our citizens… especially those who cannot protect themselves.

“We read how venerable institutions, insulated by outdated laws, have not only allowed the victimization of children….but have exposed countless others to the horrors of sexual abuse.   The problem will NEVER GO AWAY as long as perpetrators are shielded.  Witness Sandusky, the Boy Scouts, any religious organization, and any school system…public or private.

“We have learned that victims of child sex abuse often take decades to acknowledge their demons and that they rarely make false claims.  We know that perpetrators can’t stop abusing.  But if we can give survivors of child sex abuse the opportunity to expose predators through accessing records to support their claims, without the constraints of arbitrary statutes of limitations, than this will go a long way to stop the abuse of the next generation of children.

“I implore you to co-sponsor my legislation, House Bill 2067 and call upon the Chairmen of the Judiciary Committee to at least hold a meeting on the merits of the measure.  On behalf of all victims of child sexual abuse, I thank you in advance for your consideration and support.”

FACSA’s mailing address is:

FACSA
740 Cornerstone Lane
Bryn Mawr, Pa 19010

You can make a contribution to FACSA!

 

FACSA – Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse

Contact Your PA House Rep ASAP

Please contact your local PA House legislator and ask him/her to support Rep. Mark Rozzi’s proposed amendments to Senate Bill 681 which the full PA House will be voting on very soon possibly in the next day or so.

A. How to find your legislator: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/

B. Bullet points we suggest you use in your communication with him/her:

  • Please support SB 681
  • Additionally, please support the all the Rozzi amendments that will help give justice to victims of child sex abuse which increase the statute of limitations from 12 years to 32 years for civil actions arising from the sexual abuse of a minor and create a two year “window” to allow past child sexual abuse victims the opportunity to seek civil recourse from their perpetrators.
  • Include a short sentence or two of why you support this legislation.
  • Thank them for their consideration of this matter.
  • Include your name and address.

—————————————-
FYI: Letter we sent to all legislators today. It has a bit more detail about the proposed legislation.

December 9, 2013

Dear Legislator:

The House will soon consider SB 681 which would allow victims of sex crimes to protect themselves from predators. While we support this legislation, we ask that you also support the Rozzi amendments to give victims access to justice. Currently, Pennsylvania’s archaic statute of limitations laws mean that thousands of victims cannot have access to the courts for civil proceedings – just because their legal “clock” has expired.

The first Rozzi amendment would remove the statute of limitations for civil actions arising from the sexual abuse of a minor and provide a “window” up until age 50 for abuse victims to file civil action if the statute of limitations has expired. It would also remove “sovereign immunity” defenses for public officials who commit sexual abuse.

Other amendments would increase the statute of limitations from 12 years to 32 years for civil actions arising from the sexual abuse of a minor and create a two year “window” to allow past child sexual abuse victims the opportunity to seek civil recourse from their perpetrators.

We are bombarded by horrendous stories of child abuse and the legal maneuvering that ensues.

For those of you who want real justice for the Sandusky victims or the victims of the Philadelphia Catholic diocese scandals, it is time to amend our outdated statutes of limitations.

It is time to stand up for the victims; not the predators.

Below and attached please find over 30 organizations who strongly support statute of limitations reform:

Catholic Whistleblowers, Child Protection Project, Coached Into Silence, Crime Victims Center, Culture of Silence Film, Horace Mann Action Coalition, Jewish Board of Advocates for Children, Justice4PAKids, Justtell.org, Let Go Let Peace Come In Foundation, MaleSurvivor, Ms. Foundation, National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, National Child Protection Training Center, National Crime Victim Bar Association, National District Attorneys Association, OAASIS: Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors in Service, Parents for Megan’s Law, PA Gestalt Center, Patches Kids, PCADV: PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence, PCAR: PA Coalition Against Rape, Protect the Hershey’s Children, Inc., S.E.S.A.M.E., Inc.: Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, Safe4Athletes, SFJ: Survivors for Justice, SNAP: Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SOL-Reform.com, Stop the Silence, The Awareness Center, The National Center for Victims of Crime, Turning Point, Vertigo, LLC/Pursuit of Truth Film, Voice of the Faithful

On behalf of all of them, and on behalf of victims everywhere, please vote for the Rozzi amendments to SB 681.

The past year has seen some spectacular events that have given some hope to survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands pedophile predators in our society.  Indeed this crisis knows no borders and is not limited to those of a certain faith.  We have seen the conviction of a Catholic Bishop for covering up sexual crimes committed against children, the conviction and imprisonment of Jerry Sandusky for committing those crimes and a monsignor in Philadelphia for carrying out a program of protecting pedophiles at the expense of innocent children and parishioner’s money.   Large institutions still are willing to sacrifice the innocent in order to protect the privilege of the few at the top and to prevent scandal from coming to light.

For me personally, I have had to come to grips with the death of the predator who counted me as one of his many victims.  He was prolific throughout his life in targeting boys in dysfunctional family situations from alcoholism to catastrophic illness.  He hid behind his Roman Collar and he found the protection of a Diocese that was willing to move him around to different parishes and ultimately out of the diocese and the state to keep him safe from prosecution.

With the announcement that the Pope has offered his resignation, something not done in over 600 years, just as the documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa” has aired on HBO (see the promo here), I wonder what the future of the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church will be.   I can safely say that the entire College of Cardinals who will be voting in the next few weeks were elevated to helm of their respective curiae by either John Paul II or Benedict XVI.  In a word, they are very conservative in the mold of the men who hoped to shape their church by selecting Cardinals who shared similar conservative outlooks on the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

The one piece of the puzzle that continues to vex me is the Survivor Community.  The community that speaks for the victims.  There isn’t really a strong confederation of groups in the United States that networks survivors and promotes an agenda in the State Capitols.  There is no larger, worldwide organization that stands up for the survivors, that is a solid united front for the people who have been neglected all these years.

At this point I will say, again, that I don’t think SNAP is effective because its national leadership seems disconnected from the rest of us.   The organization is not a network, despite its name.   There is a vocal element out there that feels that the organization is an arm of the Catholic Church because of the way it is formed.  They base this claim on the letter that follows:

snap incorporating paper

Personally, I am not convinced this is a smoking gun.  I think this was more of the birth of an organization that did not know how to chart its own course at its genesis.  But I will let you come to your own conclusions.

During the last week I have been having a heated electronic correspondence with another survivor who has accused me of rolling over on the survivor community and stunting a dialogue between us.   I have been accused of many things in the past few years from all sides of this issue.  But, as much as I hate to admit it, my correspondent has got me thinking.  We talk about a survivor community as if it really exists.   We talk about networks but we are not networked as a community.

I need to know what the expectations of survivors are (I hate the word victim).  I need to hear the thoughts of others with similar experiences on what needs to be done.  I need  to know what expectations are out there.   If we are going to be a community, a network there is needs to be a common philosophical and pragmatic basis to gather the various groups into a confederation, an alliance or a coalition.

There are a lot of egos in this community.  Mine to be counted among them.  There has to be a way to come to some kind of accord in order to optimize the talents, energy and, if need be, the anger that resides within the universe of survivors and their supporters.

If no accord can be reached, is there another way to harness the energy of survivors to achieve tangible goals for our society so that we can remove the veil of protection that pedophiles in large institutions have enjoyed in the name of saving the reputation of those institutions?  I have said it before and I will continue to say that I had to keep my great terrible secret alone for all those years, my perp had help keeping his.

My questions are not rhetorical, I need to know.  I need you to tell me.  I think we all need to have the discussion in a civil manner.  But the discussion needs to be had, by the entire community, if there is really a community out  there.

I am waiting to hear from all of you.

I put a blog post on January 16 entitled 99,601.  I thought it was pretty innocuous, more of a “I’m still out here” piece than anything else.   It drew a vitriolic response from one reader who decided that it was more of an exercise in narcissism and that I should be taking a more vocal stand against the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).  To be honest, this is my blog and I am going to write as often as I am moved to on topics of my choosing.  If you don’t like it I would like to direct you the freshly pressed section of WordPress.  There is some really neat stuff there.

If you have read this blog for any length of time you will know that I do not have a lot of love for the National Director of SNAP.   I have voiced my opinion on SNAP and the way the national board conducts business.  I wrote a blog post entitle Parting Company with SNAP that spun up a lot of comments and heated discussion, some of it too nasty to approve on both sides of the discussion.   Do I really want to rehash that?  Not so much!   I don’t think, as a blogger, I need to announce annually  that I am not a fan of the national leadership of SNAP.  I still hold out hope that at some point the Survivor community finds a network where we all get an opportunity to work together collectively to advance a legislative agenda that will lengthen statutes of limitation

Instead of pointing out, again, that I think SNAP is a self licking ice cream cone, I choose to spend my time and some of my money supporting organizations like the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse and Justice4PAKids and their efforts to change laws and do real and tangible good.  They are making a difference.  SNAP is more focused on having 2 conferences this year, one here in the States and the other in Ireland.   I guess the National director is working on improving his standing in the airline rewards program of his choice.

At this point I would add that I am very impressed by some of the state SNAP coordinators.  Becky Ianni in Virginia is the real deal.  I have only met her twice, but she is a force for good in the northern Virginia and Washington DC region.  I would gladly support any effort she led.   Karen Polesir has helped me on occasion and is active in a coalition of groups working to get SOL and window legislation through the State Assembly in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I support people like Kay Ebeling who has been reporting (not blogging, reporting) on the sexual abuse crisis for years and has gotten little support from   the survivor community.  She has been inspiring and I consider her a friend.  Funny, the vocal ones have the church, its apologist and many survivors attacking them.   I guess that is the point I am circling here.   Even in the survivor community there is a chasm between elements.  Being a good, compliant survivor or victim makes you a darling to some of the national groups.  Dare to criticize them and see how quickly you are on the outs.  Lessons learned from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church I guess.

For now I look at the future.  I think that change will come but it will not be led by a national organization.  We don’t have an effective one.  It will be led by regional groups, some affiliated with larger organizations, some will be independent.  Fools will rush in and out.   We all need to stay the course.   We really will not get anywhere if we are sniping at each other.

The State Assembly in Harrisburg will be taking up the issue of child abuse legislation again.  The following is the first two paragraphs of an article on what went on in Harrisburg earlier this week.   Click on the link below to read the full story.

“Representatives Michael McGeehan (D-Philadelphia) and Louise Bishop (D-Philadelphia) were joined by colleagues and advocates to announce the reintroduction of child sex abuse legislation and a renewed push to get the legislation enacted. Members present included Representatives Tim Briggs (D-Montgomery), Michelle Brownlee (D-Philadelphia), Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery), Ed Gainey (D-Allegheny), Kevin Haggerty (D-Lackawanna), Stephen Kinsey (D-Philadelphia), Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny), Duane Milne (R-Chester), Tom Murt (R-Montgomery), Cherelle Parker (D-Philadelphia), Mark Rozzi (D-Berks), Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh), and Ron Waters (D-Philadelphia).

Rep. Bishop shared her personal story as a victim of child sexual abuse to explain why she introduced HB 237. Bishop, who came out last year as a victim, described her struggle with keeping the abuse a secret and why it took her so long for her to finally disclose it. She reiterated that HB 237, which would remove the statute of limitations on criminal charges and civil lawsuits, was not about money. She stressed that the legislation is about allowing the women and men who were abused as children to seek justice and receive the help they need to heal. She believes she was sent to the House of Representative to take care of the victims. As a mother and grandmother, Bishop said that she wants to help those who have been abused. She repeated that “it is time to put victims first” and asked for the legislation to move out of Committee, be considered by all legislators and signed into law.”

Read the full story at: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2013/20130123CT.HTM

…views on this blog as of this evening.  It is a little unnerving to see that this little conversation I am having, mostly with myself at times, has attracted that much traffic with just over 200 posts released into the internet.  Perhaps I will see 100,000 by the weekend!

Somehow it is now 2013.  And we are already half way through January.   I will admit that the passing of 2012 into the history books gives me a sense of relief.  I feel like I have been holding my breath underwater for most of the year.  It was a year of personal challenges, uncertainty at work, a separation agreement that should have taken weeks went on significantly longer and the last shallow exhale from the man who stole so much from so many.  He made it! He won the race to the grave without being held publicly accountable.  He was aided and abetted to the end by the Diocese of Scranton’s hierarchy and the Servants of the Paraclete at the St. John Vianney Center in Dittmer, Missouri.

Yes, good riddance 2012!

We start 2013 with more stories of priests and lay teachers on trial, overly redacted files from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and a bishop still holding on to his See despite his conviction in helping to protect a pedophile.   Lets also throw the ongoing targeting of American Nuns by a church hierarchy so corrupt and arrogant that they can bully with impunity, while the faithful sit in the pew remain passive.

Here we go again!

But there is hope for this year to start off on a positive note!  Justice4PAkids  is holding a Jan 23 press conference in the  Harrisburg State House Rotunda at 10 am for introduction of new bills for abolishing statute of limitations (SOLs) for sexual crimes committed against children. Maureen Martinez, Justice4PAkids President, is encouraging people to come out and support the cause. She requests that you please RSVP to: info@justice4pakids.com if you can make it.  If you can support this group, please do so.  They are really leading the charge for justice and accountability in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania!

I am hopeful that 2013 will be a good year on many fronts.  I wish you all a happy and healthy new year.  I wish you all  the truth and justice for which we all seek.

This is the second in a series of posts on the tactics in play from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and its apologists (the Catholic League of Extraordinary Idiots comes to mind).

There is Nothing We Can Do About It

There are essentially three variants on this one.  All have the same effect of the church assuming the “Heisman” position in an attempt to keep victims away.

The church is using these tactics to wash their hands of responsibility for the actions of their priests, nuns and lay people who have used their positions and stations to commit physical and sexual assaults on children and vulnerable adults.

This is the plausible deniability strategy practiced by the church in their attempt to shut down victims or organizations within the church who are looking to hold the hierarchy to account for the crimes committed, literally, in the name of God.

1. We’re sorry, but the statutes of limitations have passed.  Lawyers are quick to point this one out on behalf of the diocese.   “We would love to talk to you, ease your pain, express our deep condolences and regrets, but I see that the SOL’s for both criminal and civil actions have expired.  Here, have a mass card and a copy of our Notice Regarding Sexual Abuse of a Person Under Eighteen Years of Age by Ordained or Lay Personnel of the DiocesePlease leave through the side door and consider a donation to our annual fund drive to support our retiring vocations!”  Bottom line here is that once the statutes of limitations has run out, they have no vested interest in working with victims or their families.  There is no acknowledgement past the “credible report”.  There is no investigation, there is no review under Canon Law.  There is no consequence.  It is like it never happened.

2. The alleged crimes took place before our policy was in place.  Bummer Dude!   I hear what you are saying about Father (insert name here).   But what happened to you happened before our policy came into effect.   We can’t retroactively give a damn about your particular instance. If we did that, we would have to pretend to care about all the other victims of all the other priests we have hidden retired.  That Notice Regarding Sexual Abuse of a Person Under Eighteen Years of Age by Ordained or Lay Personnel of the Diocese information we gave you as we hustled you out a side door in number 1 (see above), sorry buddy, you predate that.   So, too bad.  Please do not disturb the senior citizens coming into the cathedral, church, or chapel who have bequests for the church written into their wills.  We would prefer that they remain oblivious to what is going on.   The bishop does need a new Chrysler, the current car is almost 3 years old (gasp).

3. He’s dead, he can’t defend himself against these charges.  Inevitably, a victim of abuse who has remained silent for decades will come forward.   Often, even if the claim is credible, parishioners and the hierarchy of the church will attack the victim for “trying to soil the good name of Father (fill in the blank).   “Why don’t you let him rest in peace!”  “You are only going after someone who cannot defend himself”.

In my case, my perp (what do I call him?)  died in May.  In June I received the first volley of the “let him rest in peace, you are trashing the reputation of a deceased man of god” email.  It starts!  Suspend the fact that he was a prolific abuser/molester/rapist.  Forget the fact the Diocese of Scranton had him locked away for a dozen years.  Forget that he was sent to “rehabilitation” and he started grooming his next victim as soon as the backs of his handler were turned.

The variation on #3 is the “he is an addled old man suffering from (insert malady of age here)” who cannot remember what he did”.    The diocese, in my case, wanted to garner sympathy for him with me because he was suffering from dementia. Sorry, sympathy is not a commodity I offer wholesale.

The culture of this institution is such that no change is possible as long as the hierarchy is not held accountable. Either from within the church or from civil authority.  This morning, word from a courtroom in Philadelphia was that Monsignor Lynn was sentenced to 3-6 years for his crime of failing to protect a child from sexual crimes committed by a priest known to the diocese as an abuser (not the word I really want to use).   This is a start.  Justice came at a heavy price to the victims and a heavy price to the parishioners whose donations (even if they didn’t know they were footing the legal bill) funded  the $11 million + defense costs.

I have been asked if I thought the sentence was reasonable and I think it was.  I have to believe in the justice system, the alternative is just not acceptable.   That said, Monsignor Lynn should pay for his complicity, but he is taking a bullet for those who wear purple or red.  I would like to see the bishops and archbishops who have been playing a shell game with pedophiles for decades to have a day in court and, if a jury convicts, sentenced accordingly.   I recommend that Bishop Timlin, late of the Diocese of Scranton be moved to the front of the list.  This country needs to send a message that Roman Collar Crime will not be tolerated in any form.

It has been an interesting 31 days.  I still have not processed it all.  I don’t know how to process some of it.  I have been told to try to look at these things in the context of “the glass being half full”.  What I have found in looking through my own personal lens at all that has happened since May 25th, is that the glass is broken. 


In May, Robert Gibson, the Catholic priest who raped me while I was an 8th grade student at Notre Dame Jr/Sr High School in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, died.  True to form, I was informed of his passing by a source close to the Gibson family and not by the Diocesan official who had promised to inform me of his inevitable death. 

To be honest, I was numb.  I was neither happy nor sad that he had died, I was not angry at not having had a chance to confront him while he lived.   Many of the people who emailed me after I blogged about his passing were quick to offer their thoughts on the man who had committed criminal acts (this was not just abuse) against many, and had betrayed us all.  There was another shocking revelation about him that came with the news of his death  that should not have surprised me, but it did.  Another of his victims shared his story with me as the news of his passing got out.  I don’t feel like I should be celebrating the end of a life, no matter how malevolently lived.  In his addled later years, I am told he was a shell, a soul lost to dementia.  I don’t think I should take any solace in his condition at the conclusion of his life.  With the onset of that condition also came the death of truth for me and many others.  There was no last moment apology from a dying man, no admission to his crimes, no sense of his prolificity when it came to the number of children he raped, sodomized, tortured or beat while he was being “naughty” during the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.   There was no accounting. 

Many have told me he is going to get his in the next life.  I don’t believe there is a next life and I don’t believe in hell.  Gibson escaped this life and atonement for his crimes with the aid of the Diocese of Scranton, the Catholic Church and a network of Roman Collar Crime supporters who probably all breathed a collective sigh of relief as he breathed his last shallow, labored breath. 

While this was all going on, the jury in Philadelphia was deliberating the fate of two priests, one accused of molesting a child, the other of covering up crimes and endangering children.  As the jury deliberations dragged on, I could not help but wonder if there was a juror who could have been refusing to convict on religious grounds.  Perhaps the church had gotten to someone on the jury with threats or payments.  Based on my dealings with the church,  I saw this as very possible because I do not differentiate between organized crime and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  The jury did  convict Monsignor Lynn, finally, on only one count of endangering a child.  The jury deadlocked on the priest on trial for molesting a child. That was a start, albeit a very poor one.

Monsignor Lynn used the defense of superior orders or the “Nuremberg” defense.  It was really Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua who should have been on trial and he “conveniently” died the day after a judge ruled him competent to testify in Lynn’s trial.  With Lynn’s conviction we have a lieutenant going to prison while the generals are untouched.  While I welcome the conviction as a first step, it is by no means a leap and I do not see it as a major turning point in the struggle to force the hierarchy of the church to come clean on the conspiracy of silence and the further victimization of children and vulnerable adults.   I will feel a little better when I see someone in purple or red vestments being led away in handcuffs to serve a long-term behind bars for their crimes. 

And then there was Jerry Sandusky’s trial.  The defense here was that the victims were seeking monetary awards.  They were greedy and willing to bring this kind man down.  Sure he was a little overly affectionate, so what if he liked sharing showers with young boys.  Luckily the jury saw through that and convicted on almost all counts of the indictment.  He will appeal; we will go through all this again.  He will put the victims through the scrutiny and the attacks that should rightfully be aimed at him.  Just when you thought you heard it all, his stepson came forward and identified himself as one of the victims.  I am not surprised. 

The true test will be when the Penn State officials who covered up the reported incidents that allowed for other children to be placed in danger of rape and abuse.  When I see a Pennsylvania jury convict based on strong evidence I will start to believe that a change is coming. 

There are bills that have been stuck in the judiciary committee of the Pennsylvania General Assembly that are moving, at a glacial pace, towards the floor for a vote.  Held up in the Judiciary committee by the imperial chairman Ron Marsico for a long time,the bills  finally moved on to another committee because of the intense pressure of the two trials going on in the Commonwealth.  Finally, Marsico’s political peril overcame his loyalty to the Catholic Hierarchy.  If those bills pass and the governor of Pennsylvania signs them into law, I will start to believe. 

In the meantime, I watch the Catholic faithful announce that justice and honor have been satisfied.  They mimic the voices from the pulpit that claim the scandal is past and that we must look forward.   We must turn a blind eye to the past and to the victims for whom justice and honor have not been satisfied and truth has been denied.  We must look to the future and protect the mother church! (Sarcasm intended) 

This is not over.  The church’s hierarchy has not paid a vulgar price for its vulgar complicity and parishioners’ complacency.  It has not learned its lesson and the faithful have not seized power from those who have abused it for centuries.  It is business as usual.   It is all about power, prestige and keeping butts in the seats for the Sunday morning magic show and keeping the revenue stream flowing.  I have such low expectations for the Catholic Church.  I have set the bar ridiculously low for the church and marveled at how they continue to fall short. 

Nothing has changed, yet…

Copyright

This site is copyrighted by my statement.
Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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