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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 .
The 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”; “anguish of body or mind, something that causes anguish or pain, the infliction of intense pain to punish, coerce or afford sadistic pleasure”
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.
 Merriam Webster http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/torture?show=0&t=1399470363
 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition principal copyright 1993
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:
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.
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
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 Diocese. Please 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…
Returning from an event in Northern Virgina, I decided to call the Diocese of Scranton and get confirmation that Robert Gibson had died. I identified myself and asked for the office that could help me confirm that a priest, formerly of the Diocese, had passed away. I was transferred to another office and, once again, I identified myself and request confirmation that Robert Gibson had died. After a pause, the woman’s voice changed and she told me that she would not discuss the matter with me. I asked for her name and she hung up on me.
Not too long ago I had been assured by the Chancellor that I would be notified of his death. Apparently that was another hollow promise. Shocking!
This morning, after the call to the diocese that was terminated abruptly by a diocesan employee, I sent a note to the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator, I received a terse response from the Diocese:
Please be advised that Robert Gibson died on Sunday, May 27, 2012.
DIOCESE OF SCRANTON
Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer
Phone: 570-207-2216 Fax: 570-207-2236
It is amazing to me that this organization could not even grant me a confirmation of his death without behaving badly. For them, there must be relief that he is passed and the mistaken impression that this is over.
Can someone,(Bishop Bambera), explain to me why his staff is openly hostile to victims of priests that served in his diocese? Can someone perhaps teach a little compassion. For the record, I identified myself and spoke in a courteous manner to the woman on the phone who refused to identify herself. Perhaps the Bishop should, at a minimum, have his staff trained in proper phone etiquette.
But I do have confirmation. The Diocese still doesn’t get it. It really is time for Pennsylvania to change the law and allow all the victims to seek to bring the coverup committed by the Diocese of Scranton into the light.
Just for the record, Robert J. Gibson’s Parish assignment history is located at this hotlink.
I have heard from what I consider to be a very reliable source that Robert Gibson passed away in late May 2012. I do not have a confirmation on that from the Diocese of Scranton. I will be asking for that confirmation as soon as I have posted this.
I don’t know exactly what I am feeling at the moment. Relief, sadness, anger… pick one. I think that the truth died with him.
If you were one of Robert Gibsons victims, you can contact me and I will tell you what I know, I just won’t be able to tell you how I know it. I will have more information soon.
Someone in the Diocese of Scranton is probably breathing a sigh of relief for all the wrong reasons.
I have to admit that sometimes I get really angry over some of the comments that are sent in that, on the surface, seem to want to offer me encouragement but, in fact, are supportive of either the man who raped and beat me or others like him. They are most likely sent by well-meaning people who are not willing to admit that their church is guilty of harboring predator priests as well as other criminal activity. Or they are unwilling to allow that their precious “Father Bob” or “Father Gibson” was a predator who indulged his perverse fetish of raping prepubescent boys as his way to get off. (Excuse me for being blunt.) (Robert Gibson’s assignments as a priest in the Diocese of Scranton are listed here.)
A case in point, I received an email from a reader in response to a reply I left to a comment on a recent post. The original comment was from a friend who was angry that the man who had officiated at her wedding and baptised her children was also the man who sexual preyed on her junior high school classmates (yes, that is an intentional plural). The conflict was weighing on her.
I was also conflicted for years because the same man who had raped and beat me numerous times was responsible for getting my father into an alcohol rehab program during my freshman year of college. The man was a bit of a hero in my family for a long time. I heard about it for years and I seethed at the accolades being offered for him. He used this magnanimous act of pastoral kindness to keep me quiet, keep me in place, keep me from telling my great terrible secret. It was quite a shock to my parents when I finally told them some of the things that happened all those years ago. Acts of sexual predation that the Diocese of Scranton deemed credible based on other reports on the same “priest”. Acts that I know were committed on more children than the Diocese of Scranton cares to admit.
The email I received was a little over the top. I read it once and it bothered me so I walked away from the computer. When I read it later I was upset. The next day I was just angry. I wrote several responses, deleting one after another until I was able to find a way to temper my anger. I am not sure that I was completely successful.
The sender of the email stated that she had gone to Missouri to see Father Gibson. In her words (Sic):
He was a vegetable of a man in bed. He is completely unable to speak or respond. I knew it was him because they told me that was the man in the bed; but I didn’t recognize him. He is an emaciated shell of a person. He is enduring an empty, lonely, desolation of a life.He cannot speak or comprehend. He is Completely cut off from human interaction. It is an empty room with nothing but a bed.
Where the wheels came off for me in this email were statements like (sic):
But I knew Robert Gibson. I believe he would choose to suffer like this. I believe he was so ashamed. I believe he was pained at what he did to you.
When he dies. ….. And my sense it will be soon… Robert Gibson will make it a priority to help you heal. He was a monster to you. He knew that, but he was not able to control his urges. They call it pedophilia.
Did you ever have urges that you could not control?
Michael… I hope and pray (and I do still pray) that you are somehow able to find peace. If there is a God, then I know that Robert Gibson deserves to suffer for what he did to you. I knew him. He had goodness along side the horror that he showed you.
You will be free soon. Your pain is something I cannot grasp. But you will wake up one day and realize you can breathe. That means Robert Gibson has died and begged our Lord to protect you and comfort you. I hope then you will be free.
Let me answer each of these examples in turn. I don’t believe he would choose to suffer. He enjoyed what he did, he liked the power, he liked being dominant and he got off on it. It sexually excited him. Did he have regrets or did he lament his actions? We have no way to know. His only regret was probably that he got caught. But even then there was no consequence of note. The Diocese was more about preventing scandal and keeping the parishioners in the pew for the Sunday morning magic show and tithing. They moved him to Dittmer, one step ahead of the authorities that should have prosecuted him.
He is going to make me a priority after he dies? Interesting concept! If you buy into the “heaven hypothesis” (thanks Maria, I really like that expression) you would think that this man would not get past St Peter. He would probably be on the express train to hell, along with Bishop Timlin and his band of cronies who put themselves above the welfare of children in the Diocese of Scranton.
My favorite… “Did you ever had urges you could not control?”. If you are insinuating that I have had urges to molest, rape or harm in any way, a child, the answer is “NO”! I get this more often than not from the church apologists/zealots, in fact it is one of the church defenses against survivors/victims of sexual predators wearing Roman Collars. They want us to be identified as predators. They want us to be seen as subhuman and threatening. Do not, even for a moment, put me in the same category as Robert Gibson, rapist of children.
“He had goodness along side of the horror that he showed you.” Really! At what point did the “goodness” manifest itself? Or perhaps he did “good” things to keep up the facade of being a caring priest in order to separate his next victim from the herd. Tell me, how do you reconcile the fact that he had all this evil along side of the goodness he showed you?
The idea of Robert Gibson ascending to the right hand of the “father” upon his death is absurd. If there is a “god”, I would suspect that miscreants like Gibson are not destined for any reward in the after life.
I am sure when he does die, he will be buried with the full vestments of the church that turned its back on his victims. I am sure he will have a funeral befitting a man of “god”. I am sure he will be heralded for his goodness and sent to his “maker” for his eternal reward. That will be the final act in the church’s deceit. I doubt his victims will be invited to send him off with the “honors” he truly deserves. I am sure that Diocese will wait for a while to tell his victims that he has died so that there will be not interference with his priestly funeral.
His death will not set me free. I am already free, I have the truth. I have spoken that truth and others have also stood up to say that they were also targeted by Gibson. Some have done so publicly, others have done so privately. As soon as our great terrible secrets were shared, we were all free. He has no power over me. His death will not result in my rebirth. To give his life, his basic ability to pump blood and draw breath, power over his many victims is ludicrous. He is just a pathetic life form.
For those concerned about a possible road trip to Dittmer to see Gibson for myself, I did make the run down I-64 from my home in Virginia to Louisville, Kentucky. While the overhead signs encouraged me on to St. Louis, I did not venture past my Kentucky destination. Gibson is not worth the gas. To all my friends who wrote to me out of concern of what a trip to Missouri would do to me, fear not. I would not do anything stupid. I would not lower myself to commit an act of violence like Gibson did repeatedly to me and to many others. If I was going to burn gas to make a scene, it would be to go to Scranton and engage the leaders of the cult in the Chancellery on Wyoming Avenue.
Remember, my dear readers, if you are currently tithing or contributing to the Catholic Church, you are perpetuating the hierarchy that has put children and vulnerable adults in danger. You have been supporting a corrupt organization that has moved far away from the “faith” it purports to espouse. Your tacit support makes you complicit in their actions.
I inquire as the health and well-being of my perp, Robert J. Gibson, periodically. I did so last month to the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Scranton. Admittedly, the email to Joan Holmes was pretty sarcastic. I asked the question “Is the monster still alive?”. I did edit out the adjective I used initially.
As is the standard operating procedure of the Diocese, Ms. Holmes wrote me a wonderful little email in reply, passing my questions to the new chancellor. What I felt most disturbing about Ms. Holmes email dated on 7 April during Holy Week (For victims of sexual crimes committed by priest that week of 2012 is known as the first week in April) was the passage that read:
“As for the trial in Philadelphia, it fills me with sadness and compassion for the victims. At this time during Holy Week, I look at Jesus crucified and I see both priest and victim, so I pray also for the Church He founded.”
You see the priest crucified? Really?! I can see a church official seeing the victim crucified. That makes perfect sense. The church seems to be crucifying us on a regular basis either through their lawyers, PR Firms or through the wonderful (check the sarcasm meter) people of the Catholic League. I guess it is symptomatic of her being sympathetic to the hierarchy of the church that both pays her salary and protects predators in roman collars. There is really no doubt as to where the “Victim’s Assistance Office’s” loyalty falls.
I need to reiterate to the people out there who were victims of sexual crimes by religious or laity in the Diocese of Scranton, the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator’s office is not there to help you. It exists to collect information for the Diocese so that a defensive strategy can be established and the victim of the crime can be marginalized, sidelined or silenced. This office is not an advocate for the victim. If you are looking for assistance in Pennsylvania, I would recommend you contact the local police department or district attorney and the Foundation to Abolish Child Sexual Abuse (FACSA). The Diocese will not offer anything more than lip service to assist you.
The second response to my email came from Ms. Teresa Osborne, the current Chancellor for the Diocese of Scranton. Her email was the official response for several of my questions. Let the record show, they are mostly non-answers.
In regard to the question of whether or not “the monster” still draws breath, her answer was ” Robert Gibson is alive and continues to reside in a secure residential facility for priests in the state of Missouri.” I will have to assume he is in the Catholic Church’s minimum security location for incarcerating predator priest in Dittmer, the St. John Vianney Renewal Center. (and people are worried about Sharia Law? The Catholic Church has been running an underground “jail” network for years!) Funny, last time they were adamant about the fact that he was an old man suffering from dementia in a long-term medical facility in Dittmer, a hospital. They had previous told me he had been moved out of the Vianney Center. OOPS! Someone should have coordinated the response (lies) from the Diocese to make it consistent with earlier reports (lies, half truths) to me.
I am driving west to an event at the end of the month. Maybe I should swing by Dittmer and pay a visit on Robert Gibson and get a first hand look at what kind of condition he is in. Will he be in a room or on the golf course? I will just plug the address (6476 Eime Road, Dittmer, MO 63023) and let my Garmin direct me on the most efficient way to get to the “secure residential facility”. Anyone up for a road trip?
In response to my question about why I was never interviewed, the Chancellor said “From the time your allegation was brought forward, the Diocese of Scranton accepted what you said as true”. Still, I think it odd that the Diocese did not interview me for purposes of a canonical proceeding. It was not odd, I later found out, because they did not refer the case to the Vatican. The Chancellor goes on to say “… Robert Gibson’s status was recently re-evaluated by the Diocese and a referral of his case to the Vatican was initiated.” That is about as non-committal as responses come. Did the Bishop order a an action? What was the action requested? When was the action forwarded to the Vatican? Why have I still not been interviewed? If her goal was to appease me with her email, she fell short of the mark.
As expected, the Diocese has done essentially nothing. They will continue to do nothing. I think I need to program my Garmin GPS unit and start my trek across I-64 heading west towards Dittmer, Missouri. “Recalculating…”