It is already beginning. The troops are rallying around the disgraced priest. If you read the online reports of the arraignment of Father Bob Timchak in the various news outlets you will find comments by people weighing in on both sides of this issue. Parishioners and former students are expressing shock and disbelief. Some are even rallying around him. Many are questioning their faith and wondering how a man who has been so outspoken on issues important to his parishioners could fall from grace in this manner. They lament that he was so involved with children in the respective parishes and schools he has been affiliated with over the years and they can’t reconcile the man and the crime with which he is accused. And yet this “good, kind man” now stands accused of possessing child pornography and tampering with evidence. Not very priestly activity when you think about it.
Watching news reports online, I am amazed at both the support for Father Timchak and the lack of concern for victims. Yes, the kids in those photos are victims. A state trooper interviewed for one Scranton TV news report lamented that this case will make it more difficult for other priests in the diocese. Excuse me? You are worried about the other priests? Where is the concern for the kids in the photos? Some of them could be from parishes or schools where this man worked. At a minimum, these photos need to be reviewed by the organizations that search for lost and exploited children. They are living (I hope), breathing people who need protection from the filth that exploits them. Not just the people with the cameras and websites, but from the people who get off on photos of children.
There has been some outrage in the comment sections of online reports, I added my own comments in some cases. But I am also seeing commenters and at least one columnist who seem to be rallying to the defense of this man. I get it, really I do. Innocent until proven guilty. But that only goes to a point. When faced with a lot of evidence, Catholics still tend to go with the disbelief option and explain away the truth in front of them. The indoctrination of the church manifests itself in support for people who engage in horrible behavior. Love the sinner not the sin. Platitudes run amok in cases of clergy sex crimes.
I am a firm believer in the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Father Bob needs to be presented with the evidence against him and make a decision. I am sure he has gone to his confessor and received absolution. You know how priests take care of their own. Part of that absolution should be to atone for his sins and take his punishment. That, after all, is part of Catholic tradition. You are told to take responsibility for your actions and do the right thing. Alas, what your are taught and what the priests do is often a contradiction.
If the evidence against him is irrefutable shouldn’t part of his penance be to stand up and enter a guilty plea?
Here is what I would like to see. I would like to see him enter a plea of not guilty. I would like the Pennsylvania state courts to issue search warrants to allow the police to search the Diocese of Scranton for evidence in this and other cases of sexual crimes that the Diocese helped to suppress. I would like to see the Pike County District attorney issue subpoenas for Father Bob’s records. I would like the Diocese to fight that subpoena with every fiber of their being. And then I want to see them lose. I would love to see news reports featuring law enforcement carrying boxes of evidence from the Chancery. All of which should become a matter of public record.
I would like to see investigators go to the parishes and the schools that this priest has been affiliated with and actively search for victims of sexual crimes at the hands of Father Timchak. It is not a stretch to think that hemay have acted on his impulses over the years. There are families with children that were particularly close to this priest. Start there. The tell tale signs are very clear in hindsight. He may have favored a particular child, taken him under his wing, taken him on day trips, maybe an overnight stay somewhere? The best candidates are kids from broken homes or homes with significant addiction or medical issues. The family, especially the mother, will be very devout in their faith. The priest is the spiritual advisor or perhaps a marraige or grief counselor. This is how he would work his way in. The targets have to be in awe of the priest and fully accept that the priest is the representative of god on earth. These are the families in which victims are targeted.
There needs to be an in depth investigation. I would be willing to bet that the kiddie porn may just be the tip of the iceberg.
I anticipate that the Diocese of Scranton will generously fund this man’s defense (with parishioners’ money, of course) and will stop at nothing to downplay the crimes, absolve the perpetrator and make the victims look invisible. They will employ whatever sleight of hand is necessary to divert attention away from the church. Their mission is to avoid scandal. And yet, they fail at that mission over and over again.
I think all the records of all credibly accused priests in this diocese should be turned over to the U.S. Attorney for review of the crimes that they have committed and to determine the extent of the sexual crime cancer in the Diocese of Scranton. I would like to see anyone who has covered up sexual abuse reports or moved priests to avoid prosecution dragged in front of a judge. Let Bishops Timlin and Martino lead the procession to the bench!
Now would be an excellent time for Cardinal Rigali, the Archbishop of Philadelphia and the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Scranton, to clean house and make right what has been wrong for decades.
Below is a listing of Father Timchak’s assignment history to let people know where he has been. He has probably left a trail of questionable behavior and, possibly, young victims in his wake. Why do these guys always have lots of access to schools? The authorities need to go to these parishes and schools before the Diocese of Scranton starts passing around confidentiality agreements and checks.
Father Timchak’s history as a priest presented from TimesLeader.com:
According to Diocese of Scranton records:
June 27, 1992: Father Timchak was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Scranton.
1992-94: Assistant Pastor, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish, Wilkes-Barre.
1994-96: Director of Religious Formation, Seton Catholic High School, Pittston; in residence at St. John the Evangelist Parish, Pittston.
1996-98: Director of Religious Formation, Bishop Hoban High School, Wilkes-Barre; and Assistant Pastor, Holy Saviour Parish, Wilkes-Barre.
1998-2000: Assistant Pastor, Annunciation Parish, Williamsport.
2000-06: Pastor, Transfiguration Parish, West Hazleton, and SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Hazleton. Also Chaplain, Bishop Hafey Jr./Sr. High School, Hazleton, 2005-06.
2006-07: Leave of Absence. During this period, he worked in the Luzerne County Probation Office.
2007-April 2009: Assistant Pastor, St. Vincent de Paul, Milford, and St. John Neumann, Lords Valley. Also, he was an occasional substitute teacher in area elementary schools.
April 2009-present: Leave of Absence.