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 Justice4PAKids is sponsoring a 2 hour motorcycle ride (approx. 11-1pm) on September 20, 2014 and they invite your non-motorcycle rider friends & family to join in the festivities at The Office Bar and Grille, located at 1021 Morehall Rd., Malvern, PA! Meet them for great food, drink specials, raffles and more! Proceeds from the ride and 20% of the food purchases at The Office supports Justice4PAKids community outreach programs.

For more information click this link for details: Justice4PAKids

Come out and support a great organization!

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?

 

Justice4PAKids is running a 5K race and a 1 mile walk to help the organization advocate and educate for child sex abuse prevention and awareness on Saturday, 3 May 2014.

The race is being held at the Chester Valley Trail Entrance at 140 Church Farm Lane in Exton, Pennsylvania.  You can register at Chester County Running Store.  Registration on the day of the event will begin at 7:15 am at the race site.  Registration is $25.00 on race day.  There will be prizes for First, Second and Third place finishers.  T-shirts will be provided to all registered participants.

If you would like to help to sponsor this event or volunteer visit Justice4PAKids to learn more.

Proceeds will benefit Justice4PAKids. (Donations are not tax deductable.)

Passed along from a friend in PA:

Justice4pakids-5k Run/Walk & 1 Mile Kid Run

On May 4th, 2013 8am come out and run or walk the beautiful Chester Valley Trail located near Exton, PA. Punch into your GPS 140 Church Farm Lane Exton, PA as this is our starting point! There is plenty of parking, public restrooms and a playground!

Register today at:

https://www.signup2raceusa.com/ccrs/justice4pakids/

The race is being managed by the Chester County Running Company .

The cause is for Justice4pakids,  a non-profit working for better laws in our state for sexually abused victims. We want to raise money to do more child safety awareness seminars that are free and open to the public. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18 and we want those numbers to change!

We have lots of great items for every child who participates such as free bowling passes, free cones from Dairy Queen, coupons for Rita’s Water Ice, free passes for Bounce U and each child gets a medal! The prize wheel will raffle off a Wegman’s gift card, 6 passes for QVC Studio behind the scenes tour, one free day of doggie care at Wagsworth Manor and much more.  People are sending in prizes every day!

Every runner gets a T-shirt. The race is a timed event and winners in age categories will be presented with a medal!

Free pizza and refreshments from Seasons Pizza for all!

Please sign up online or email info@justice4pakids.com if you have questions!

There is a fight going on in the State Assembly in Harrisburg.   House Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Marsico is opposed to Window Legislation that would allow a window to open for civil cases to be brought against pedophiles and other sexual predators who have committed crimes against children and vulnerable adults.    Marsico is a Catholic, so it is logical that he would like to protect his church.  Well, not really logical, perhaps it is understandable that he would bow to pressure from his church.

But I am thinking that there may be a more personal reason here.   A priest by the name of Guy Marsico was credibly accused of abusing a child and removed from ministry in the Harrisburg area.   Is it possible that Representative Ron Marsico is protecting a family member who would stand to face civil action if a window was opened?  This may not be political.  It could be very personal, family business.  I wonder what, if any,  the familial relationship is between the House Judiciary Chairman in Harrisburg and the  former priest assigned to St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Rohrerstown?

That would be a fairly huge conflict of interest and a slap at survivor’s of sexual abuse as children if it turns out that the peoples’ representative is putting the interests of a predator family member ahead of the protection of children and justice for victims of prior abuse.  I would love to know the answer!

House Bill 342 needs to get an up or down vote on the floor of the Pennsylvania State Assembly.

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.

If you live in Pennsylvania, and I know a lot of the readers of this blog live in the Keystone State, it has been an interesting few weeks!   But now is not the time to sit back and declare victory.  We are a long way from that day!  

I received a note from Maureen Martinez at justice4pakids calling for people to contact the Rules Chair in Harrisburg to keep the legislation that was crowbarred out of the hands of the Judiciary committee moving to the floor of the State Assembly for a vote. 

The content of her email is as follows:

Two verdicts and the bills moved from Judiciary to Rules Committee—what a week it was last week! THIS WEEK IS CRUCIAL!!!!

 CALL TO ACTION RIGHT NOW!!! Call to Rules Chair Rep. Turzai to call up 832, 878 and the new bill 2488 for a committee vote. The legislature is only in session THIS WEEK until June 29–then they break for the entire summer. Call Rep. Turzai: (717) 772-9943 or email him at: mturzai@pahousegop.com

This is what you can say in an email:

Dear Rep. Turzai- Time is of the essence. Please call up bills 878 and 832 and 2488 (now residing in your committee as of June 20) for a committee vote. The children of PA thank you!

Why are you still reading this, if you live in PA you have an email to write or a phone call to make.  Go on, you have things to do!

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This site is copyrighted by my statement.
Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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