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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 .

I have a healthy skepticism when it comes to anyone actually prosecuting the institutions that have made it a business practice to support and protect pedophiles that groom, sexually abuse and rape children within that institution.  There is a risk calculation, no doubt, that guides these institutions to deny claims of abuse, attempt to discredit victims and protect the predators.

In the post prior to this one, I put out information released by the Foundation to Abolish Child Sexual Abuse (FACSA). They are looking for victims of sexual abuse to dial in, regardless of how long ago the abuse took place.  It is imperative that we document the files on the institutions that protected predators and turned a deaf ear on victims.

The Attorney General’s office in Harrisburg has a Sexual Abuse Hotline, 1-888-538-8541. I called the number on Monday morning. I had a recording tell me that the line was not in service.  I tried later in the morning and was surprised to have a live person answer the phone and take my information.  She told me the name of the investigator looking into the Diocese of Scranton and said she would pass my information along.  I will wait and see if anyone contacts me.  If they do I will let you know.  I do not expect much, but I would like to document the file against the Diocese of Scranton.

If you were the victim of sexual abuse as a child (under the age of 18) within the state of Pennsylvania, you should call the hotline and make a report.  The person answering the phone will give you the name of the investigator for the Diocese(s) that are applicable to your particular circumstances.

PA-diocese-map

Within the Dioceses in Pennsylvania there have been at least 292 credibly accused priests. That, to me, seems to be a low number.  In my case, the Diocese of Scranton admits to only (!) four victims of my predator. I know that number is low.  Ridiculously, insultingly low.  These predators were prolific.

If you have a story to tell, now is the time to do so.  Please call the number,  1-888-538-8541 and be heard.

I guess we shall see where, if anywhere, this will lead.

***Disclaimer: the misspelling of “Alltona” on the map was embedded in the .gif file I pulled from the Diocese of Harrisburg’s website.

 

This is from an email that FACSA sent out Yesterday.  It was important enough to come out of my self imposed archive.

1-888-538-8541

Last April, the PA Attorney General’s Office established a toll-free phone number for survivors of child sex abuse (who were PA residents, or were abused by someone in PA) to call if they wanted to file a report of being sexually abused or molested as a child under 18 no matter how long ago the abuse happened or no matter who committed the abuse.

The AG’s office is asking victims from all the places/institutions and all the alleged criminals that have literally gotten away with soul murder. Hopefully, the AG’s office will be able to take further steps to expose the criminals and the criminal institutions that aided and abetted the perps.

1-888-538-8541

While your specific abuse may have happened so long ago that there is no criminal or civil charges you can file, by your identifying perps and complicit institutions now, other victims may gain the courage to come forward once they realize they were not the only one abused by their perp.  Additionally, we anticipate there are many institutions over the years that have hidden cases of child sex abuse when it happened and with the children they were supposed to be protecting. The perps and the institutions need to be held accountable for the damage that happened.

1-888-538-8541

Please call this number. Leave a message. Someone will call you back.

Your story could be of help to other victims.

And then SHARE, SHARE, SHARE this email/post!
PS: If you lived in the Allentown Diocese when you were abused, please also contact Rep. Mark Rozzi.
On Facebook: Private Message Rep. Rozzi at https://www.facebook.com/VoteRozzi
Via Email: MRozzi@pahouse.net

I have been struggling with this decision for a while.  I have decided to archive this blog, at least for now.  I think I have accomplished as much as I can using this forum.  I have been working on two other projects, one of which was completed over the weekend.  The second will take a lot more time and most of my energy when I am not dealing with other important aspects of my life.

There have been a great many changes in my life since I came out publicly about what happened to me all those years ago.  The discoveries made along the way were, at the same time, shocking, disappointing and liberating.  I have spoken with other survivors, some whom I knew as a child, and shared a similar experience.  For many of us, the stories are frighteningly similar, the aftermath intensely personal and for some the damage is just much more than can be expressed in words.

I am still frustrated by the lack of a coherent, organized voice to unite the survivors and advocate for a meaningful change in our laws and the way society looks at the problem of pedophiles targeting children.  It is so much bigger than the Catholic Church, Penn State, the Boy Scouts of America or any other institutions that based their handling of the sexual abuse of children or vulnerable adults on a risk calculus more suited to protect their financial status and reputation.

Perhaps there will actually be a viable network of survivors at some point.  There are groups who are making a difference in their own back yards.   I wish them luck and I will lend a hand when I am able to do so.

It is just time to do something else.   I will keep the blog on-line because people are still coming to it.  I really don’t understand the numbers that still come everyday.   But, for now, I do not think I will be posting unless something significant occurs.  I will keep the email account open as well.  I will delete the vitriol from the apologists who regularly spew their venom and ignore the trolls, I will monitor the rest.

I wish you all well.

I have been off the grid for about a week.  I am just catching up with the news and my email and I was startled to find out that Teresa Osborne, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Scranton was injured in a serious automobile accident on 23 July.

I wanted to send out my best wishes for a full recovery.  While the employer of Ms. Osborne and I do not see eye to eye, I do not wish anyone in the Diocese ill and I certainly don’t want to see anyone have to endure serious injury.

For those of you who find comfort in prayer, please keep her in yours.  For those of us that don’t, a little love and light in her direction can’t hurt.

ImageThe last time I had gone to a reunion, the great terrible secret was still under wraps.   I had gone with 2 purposes, one of them was to find out if Gibson was still alive and destroying lives.  The second was to try to exorcise the memories of what had happened.   I was unsuccessful.

On the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend(2014)  I found myself pulling into East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.  It has been a while.  The last time I was in the area I was meeting with the District Attorney’s office in Monroe County to go over the events that occurred in 1973-1974.  After a one night stay, I left to return to my life in Virginia.

 Now I was back.   My great terrible secret is no longer a secret.   Not long after arriving at my hotel and meeting up with a friend, I made the trip up the hill to see how the years had changed Notre Dame High School.  As it was the weekend, there was no activity on top of the hill.  Over the years I have discovered that people had nicknames for the round chapel building that looms  in front of the classroom building.  I had referred to it as “the Silo” for years.  Others have called it the “trash can” or the “pill bottle”.  The chapel contained within had been used, at least during my time at the school, for quiet  meditation, small masses, a quiet place to sneak off with a “significant” or “not so significant” other, or a place to get high.  For me it was the location of a couple of significant beatings from “Father” Robert Gibson to keep me in line.  One such beating was interrupted by Sister Beatrice, at least temporarily.  After looking around for a few minutes, I had my fill,  it was time to move on and see the rest of town.

Stroudsburg looked essentially the same.  Although the addition of a couple of hookah bars, a head shop or two and some empty store fronts were definitely not of the late 70’s, early 80’s vintage I remember.  Everything changes.  At least there is activity on Main street.  There are many small towns that can no longer boast of that.

The reunion was on Sunday at the Barley Creek Brewery in Tannersville near Camelback Mountain.   It was a perfect spot to have a gathering of about half of the class of 1978. While nervous about what kind of reaction I would get knowing that some of these people knew about what had happened, I had to walk up and see what would happen.   For the most part, the conversations that turned to the subject of Father Gibson were supportive. More than one person felt the need to tee up their own personal horror on the subject, which was fine.  I think that anyone who wanted to say something about the matter, did so.  If someone still has something to say, email me here.

A couple of the comments from people struck me.  Two different classmates wondered aloud about why the priests didn’t just have sex with each other.  Why did they go after children?  My response is that it was not about sex.  It was about power, control, dominance and ego.  Gibson took advantage of his position as a Pastor and a teacher to control his victims.  I don’t know if he was gay.  Frankly, I don’t care.   A gay priest does not necessarily equate to a pedophile predator.  No, all those years ago it was about control and terror.  It was about getting off on the knowledge that he could do what he wanted, when he wanted with the victims he groomed with little fear of consequence.  Besides, he had the Diocese of Scranton, Bishop Timlin in particular, there to cover his mess, move him to a new crop of victims and allow him to start over.  He had institutional backing.

There was no illusion of love or care.  There was only threats of retaliation and physical harm if the victim looked like they were going to tell someone about what he was doing.

I left the reunion feeling a little better.  I was not treated differently.  It was funny to me how quickly the social order reestablished itself in the group.   Even after 35+ years we fell in with those we survived high school with.  Although this time, the illusion of  the masks we hid behind in the school on the hill seemed to be a little less visible.  Will I go back to another reunion?  I am not sure.  There has been a lot of water passed under the bridges I had burned all those years ago.   I am grateful that I saw as many old friends as I did.   A note for the people who were on the same page as me in the yearbook, thanks for your support.  I had heard from all three in the years after my revelation.  You are all gentlemen and I proud to still have you as friends.  For the three women who were also very supportive over the years (all three were at dinner after the reunion), I wanted to thank you as well. You all have helped me understand that I was not at fault for what happened all those years ago.  There were some pretty amazing people in that class.

For the matriarch of “the family”, I can never hope to repay you for all you have done for me since the first day of 8th grade.   My world would have been completely and tragically different without your support, friendship and wisdom.  You had a profound influence on a lot of lives and I think it is time you understood that.  I know I am not the only one who has let you know that recently.

Here’s to the Class of 1978!

This morning I read an article on-line from CatholicCulture.org on the United Nations probe into torture and the Vatican.  I find it amusing that the UN, the world’s most ineffective organization, is creating theater of the absurd with the Holy See, the world’s most recalcitrant organization.

The piece I was reading, written by Phil Lawler, wanted to express the author’s opinion that a recent article in the Wall Street Journal did not go far enough in their discussion on the legal position that the Vatican is only responsible for sexual abuse by priests that occurs within the territorial limits of Vatican City.     Mr. Lawler wanted to add a few more points on his own.  The first of which is:

“First, while sexual abuse is reprehensible, it isn’t torture, as that term is ordinarily understood. If the UN expands the definition of torture to encompass other forms of cruelty, it could erode support for the existing pact, which is based on an international accord that this one particular form of behavior—torture—should be stopped.”

How nice of him to admit that sexual abuse is “reprehensible”.  Not torture?  That is another matter altogether.  While I may not be a Harvard graduate (I only graduated from a Jesuit University), I can read a dictionary.  Depending on which dictionary you are reading, either online or a more traditional bound volume, torture is defined as “the act of causing severe physical pain as a form of punishment or as a way to force someone to do or say something”[1]; “anguish of body or mind, something that causes anguish or pain, the infliction of intense pain to punish, coerce or afford sadistic pleasure”[2]

Mr. Lawler, I will say that you are completely wrong on the first point.  The sexual abuse I suffered at the hand of Robert Gibson was torture.  Over the nine month period when the sexual crimes were committed against me he was, in fact torturing me for his own perverted pleasure.   He was causing severe pain and violating my 13-year-old body in an effort to coerce my cooperation, my silence and to punish me for rebelling when I did so.  I can assure you, based on my first-hand experience, he derived a great deal of sadistic pleasure from the power he was exerting over me.  He employed both physical abuse and rape (as if there is a difference to anyone but the apologists for these monsters)  as well as threats and psychological tactics to keep me in line and submissive to his actions.   When I fought back, he threatened me with death until death ceased to be an issue with me.  He then resorted to threatening retaliation against my siblings if I did not comply.   Mr. Lawler, does this not fit the definition of torture as it is “ordinarily understood”?  If it does not, please enlighten me with the correct definition.

His second point:

“Critics of the Church charge that sexual abuse by priests was widespread because of Catholic teachings and Vatican policies. But the UN would be setting a bold and dangerous precedent if it claimed that religious beliefs promulgated in one place (in this case the Vatican) were the cause of criminal acts in another.”

Tell me, Mr. Lawler, if the culture of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church did not allow for a blind eye to be turned on the problem of priests raping children and vulnerable adults, what did?  I am waiting for the typical “we did not know it was happening, and when we found out we took action”, “it was gay priests doing these terrible things” or the ever popular “this was all a result of the sexual excesses of the 1960’s societal attitude towards exploring sexuality.”

We know that priests were moved around frequently to avoid prosecution and to keep their activities hidden from parishioners.   The lack of action, other than to conceal the predators, is widely documented.  Sorry, you will lose on that one.  The Catholic Church is amazing in its ability to conjure excuses, blame the innocent and claim aggrieved status because they are being picked on when other institutions are not held to the same standard.  None of these excuses allow the hierarchy of the church to abdicate their accountability for protecting these predators.

Gay priests are not the problem!  Let me say that again.  Gay priests are not the problem!  If they were how do you explain the girls that have been victimized over the years?  Pedophile priests are “the problem”.  They like children because they like the power of their position and they get off on the terror they inflict on the most innocent.  They like torturing them.  (There is that pesky word again) .

As for the alleged issue of the sexual excesses of the 1960’s, that argument seems to ignore the documented cases of clerical abuses for decades prior to the 1960’s.

His final point:

 “Finally, does the UN want to be in the business of deciding which religious doctrines are acceptable, and which encourage anti-social behavior? (Some people consider circumcision a cruel procedure; would the UN commission entertain a claim that it is torture?) The Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the groups pressing the UN for action against the Vatican, argues that the Church engages in “psychological torture” by banning contraception.”

The classic deflection!  Who does the UN think it is judging the Catholic Church?  Mr. Lawler, are you reducing the rape of children and vulnerable adults to “anti-social behavior”?  Really?!  It is criminal, immoral and inhuman.   Anti-social is the least of the descriptors for the kinds of harm done to children by predator priests.  But Catholic apologists have to minimize the most heinous and point at the shortcomings of others to dismiss the torturous behavior of those priests (over 6,000 credibly accused and listed on Bishop Accountability.org).  On top of it all, let’s throw circumcision or the abortion issue on top of this to totally deflect the discussion away from the elephant in the room.  What a lame non-point to be made!  That elephant in the room is the church’s inability to deal with the problem of predator priests raping, almost at will, with the knowledge that the church will do anything to avoid scandal, even if it means that children will be victimized, repeatedly, and the predators will enjoy the protection of the bishops.

I don’t want the UN to go after the Vatican.   It is a fool’s errand.  I want to go after every bishop who turned a blind eye to the torture, rape and beating of children and vulnerable adults.  Those “men” are responsible for the culture of protection that these predators operated within.  The individual dioceses throughout the world who condoned and concealed these predators while vilifying the victims need to be held accountable.

It is not a matter of religious doctrine being acceptable or not.  It is a matter of an institution conspiring to conceal “Roman Collar Crime” in order to keep the funding stream coming in.  And it does not matter if the institution is a Catholic Diocese, a Baptist Church, a Jewish Synagogue, Penn State University, the Boy Scouts of America or any other entity.  We should, as a society, be standing up and saying the rape of children is wrong. (I know that may be a wild idea to some.) We should be saying the institutional protection of pedophiles is wrong.  We should be holding predators and their protectors responsible, criminally and civilly.

We should be in The International Court of Justice in the Hague prosecuting these people for crimes against humanity.  Bernard Law and others like him should be in a cell.   The United Nations is uniquely positioned to make noise and do absolutely nothing.   The Vatican may be embarrassed (although I do not think they understand the concepts of shame or accountability) but all they have to do is wait for the noise to stop.  The UN is only good at making noise.

Mr. Lawler, I would have responded to your article on your site but you have to be a donor to voice an opinion and that pretty much guarantees that you will hear nothing but rave reviews of your “cogent” argument.  Personally, I can’t imagine you getting it any more wrong.

Dear readers, you do not have to make a donation to make a comment to this site, unlike the rules at CatholicCulture.org. I don’t take donations, there is no place on my blog that will enable you to send me money.  I will be honest and say if you are off topic or are spouting vitriol on either side of the argument I will edit or delete.  But I will not charge you a nickel to offer your thoughts.

[1] Merriam Webster http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/torture?show=0&t=1399470363

[2] Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition principal copyright 1993

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!

 

I received the invitation to my high school reunion about a week ago.  I knew it was coming, I had talked to a classmate organizing it on the phone a few weeks ago.  I had also had conversations with a friend who is going, I was encouraged to go along.  Notre Dame High School Class of 1978 will be meeting on the occasion of the 36th anniversary of our graduation in May.

It has been about 10 years since I saw some of my classmates.  During the intervening years since our 25th reunion a lot has changed. In that time span I came forward with my information on Father Gibson.  I am a little apprehensive about what may await my return.  Since I became a reluctant activist, mostly due to the continued lies and concealment of predators by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, I have brought to light the dirty secrets about Father Gibson that the Diocese of Scranton has long hoped would remain undisclosed.   Several of my classmates have had this man baptise children, he has officiated at some of their weddings.   Their memories of the man may be significantly different from my own. Then again, there were others, perhaps in my class or the classes that came before ours at Notre Dame that share the a similar great terrible secret as my own.

NDHS Diploma 1978I do not have many personal items that date back to my time in Northeast Pennsylvania.  The 1978 yearbook is long gone, as was my high school ring, lost on one of the many Navy moves over the years.  Remarkably, my diploma turned up, in pristine condition, in a box in my parent’s home in Massachusetts after three or four moves of their own. Some thirty-five years later it is finally in a frame alongside some other items from my curriculum vitae.  A few photos were also in that box, including one from an 8th grade drama production that has since made an appearance on Facebook after I sent a scanned copy to a friend.

The last time I was in East Stroudsburg was in 2008 to speak to the District Attorney for Monroe County. My name and statement was added to an existing file of complaints that were outside of the statutes of limitation.  I spent one night in town and left as soon as the interview was concluded.  I had no illusions that anyone would have recognized me.  My family had left the area by the early 1980’s.  I had cut ties with just about everyone I had known in the area and  decided to leave Pennsylvania, forego entering law school, and make  a clean and permanent break.  During that 2008 visit I did drive around to look at once familiar places, noting the changes that 30 years had brought.  With the exception of driving around the towns of Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg, including going up the hill on Highland Road, I really have not spent any significant time in the area.  Funny, the school’s address is on Spangenburg Avenue but I don’t think I ever used that road even once in the 5 years I was a student at NDHS.

I have had contact with some members of my high school graduating class or the classes with which my siblings attended NDHS  in the past few years.  A few emails and phone calls came in the wake of the discovery of my blog or finding the article that appeared in the Scranton Times in 2008.  Most of the contacts have been positive, a few have been a little more confrontational.  I am curious, perhaps a little apprehensive, about what, if any, reaction will await me at the reunion.

An article in the Scranton Times-Tribune online follows up on the story of Carlos Urrutigoiry and his elevation to a position of authority over priests accused of misconduct in a Catholic Diocese in Paraguay.

The National Director of SNAP, David Chlohessy, is demanding the Diocese release  the files on the Urrutigoiry and the events that occurred at St. Gregory’s Academy in Elmhurst, a residential school sponsored by the Society of St. John, a religious order.   Urrutigoiry was credibly accused of sleeping with teenage boys as part of his “ministry”.

It will come as no surprise that the Diocese of Scranton will take no action and that the National Director of SNAP will move on to another press release/photo opportunity.  The dance continues and yet no progress is made.

Copyright

This site is copyrighted by my statement.
Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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