Investigations of Abuse Claims Are Optional?

In the time that has elapsed since I made my initial report to the Victim’s Advocate at the Diocese of Scranton about the abuse that occurred, I have spoken to only 2 people who have an official affiliation with the Diocese.  Joan Holmes, the Victim’s Advocate, has been helpful in providing information and offering support from the beginning.  I spoke to her as recently as 1 November.  I find her to be sincere and genuine in her work to assist the people who come to her with claims that range from the inappropriate to criminal.  I cannot imagine that she sleeps well after listening to some of the stories she is told. Mrs. Holmes is not a direct employee of the Diocese, she tells me she is an independent contractor.

The second person I have spoken with is Mr Bill Genello, the communications director.  He struck me as dismissive and condescending in our brief phone conversation in July, 2008.  I won’t belabor that as it was the basis of an earlier post to this blog.

The point I am trying to make is that I have never been interviewed, either in person or over the phone by anyone who was actually looking into the  claim I was making.  There has been no effort, that I am aware of, on the part of the Diocese of Scranton to investigate the circumstances surrounding Father Gibson’s activities while I was with him.  One would reasonably think that the Diocese would be interested in either vindicating a priest accused of criminal activity or document his activity in an effort to remove him from any environment where he could repeat his behavior.

I wonder why the Diocese of Scranton has not conducted an interview with me.  If they did an investigation, I find it incredible that they would not include the victim’s story as part of the process.  If they have not done the investigation, can they tell me why?

I can only speculate as to the reason that no investigation has been initiated.  Some possible reasons could be:

  1. Father Gibson has admitted to the offenses
  2. Given his past admissions to other complaints and the nature of my complaint, the Diocese has decided that it is more than likely that I am telling the truth
  3. The Diocese understands the the statutes of limitations have expired both in criminal and civil courts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and have made the decision to just not deal with the issue because they are protected from liability
  4. The Diocese just doesn’t care

The Diocese has an obligation, under the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People to take allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and investigate all complaints. Article II of the document requires an assessment of claims of sexual abuse. How is it possible that a determination can be made without interviewing the person making the claim?

Article VII of the Charter states:

Dioceses/eparchies are to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved. This is especially so with regard to informing parish and other church communities directly affected by ministerial misconduct involving minors.

Has the Diocese of Scranton informed the parishes, schools and camps that Father Gibson has been assigned to of the claims against him and his admissions of sexual abuse of minors?  Have they mentioned him by name and indicated the years he was at the respective parishes and schools?   I would be willing to wager that they have not complied with the Charter in these matters.

There has been no investigation into the claims I have made.  Once again, I believe it is because the Bishop of Scranton and the people around him are not interested in coming to terms with the sexual abuse that they have been covering up for decades.  It is business as usual on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton.

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