Funny, they keep saying that they are bankrupt and that there are no resources for the victims of sexual crimes committed by their clergy! They complain that people like me are just looking for an easy payday. And yet, they will spend parishioners’ donations to live in splendor. Makes you wonder where the hierarchy of the church lost its way!
While glancing at my WordPress.com dashboard I noticed that this will be my 200th post on this blog. I am amazed I have stuck to it this long, although my posts have been less frequent as events in my personal life demand my attention. For this post I am beginning a series on the Catholic playbook. These are the strategies that the Church and its apologists use to downplay the sex crisis that continues to play out around the world. I have been keeping notes over the last five years on reactions to media stories, blogs similar to mine and message boards. There are too many to do in one sitting so I will try to do them in installments. I think you can safely say that these strategies are employed by any organization that takes a risk management approach of covering up and denying instead of being proactive and forthright. The RCC has been using these tactics for centuries. (That’s right, this sex crisis is not the result of Vatican II as the very conservative zealots will have you believe).
Here is installment 1 of the RCC Hierarchy Playbook:
It is in use again. The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) hierarchy is pulling out their playbook on how to spin their position on the myriad of crises in which the church is embroiled. The good old boy network has been fostering corruption, scandal and criminal activity for centuries. Why would it be any different in the 21st century.
In the wake of the conviction of Monsignor Lynn in Philadelphia, the hierarchy’s public relations goon squads are trying to minimize damage in the media, isolate other potential “crisis hotspots”, and brainwash “the faithful” that all is well and that the one holy catholic and apostolic church is on solid footing, just as St. Peter placed it. You can keep coming to church and filling the collection plates.
The playbook is predictable and predatory. It can be broken down into several broad categories. We start with: ( I shouldn’t have to say this but… sarcasm runs amock in this post). (If you are a Diocesan Spokesperson, try to keep up, I try use a lot of one syllable words, if you get confused you can use the google machine.)
Paint the Victim as a Predator
1. Victims are only looking for money! Greed is one of the deadly sins. The hierarchy of the church must have people believe that the victim of sexual crimes committed by priests, nuns or lay representatives are only out for a quick, large payday. Gloss over the damage done by the predators who enjoy the top cover of the church while targeting victims for their own pleasure, that is not relevant! Father “Fill in the Blank” is not called to account for his actions, crimes and deceptions. No, we can’t have that. Let’s go after the victim who has carried his/her great terrible secret of violation for years or decades. We lurk in the shadows for years for the opportunity to litigate and force the church to pay for sins it did not commit. The victim is the bad guy in his/her search for justice.
2. Victims will bankrupt us. Ignore the palaces, art work,massive princely mansions, the expensive cars, summer retreat spots, first class flights to Italy and land used to hide pedophiles in Catholic minimum security facilities. Ignore the vast resources of the Catholic Church worldwide. Wealth that is beyond the comprehension of most mortals is not to be considered. Cardinals and bishops have had the audacity to claim poverty in the face of claims that substantiate their complicity it protecting pedophiles in their attempt to protect the church from scandal. Dioceses have attempted to use this tactic in court but have failed. They will cry out that they have to close schools and parishes to pay for settlements and awards to victims of predators that they have shielded. Funny, it would seem that the best way to avoid scandal is to not create one! But I digress. Has it ever occurred to anyone in the hierarchy of the church that predator priests, by their actions and in total disregard for the good of the church, continue to prey on children and vulnerable adults and open that organization to scrutiny, penalty and sanction? Can I have a big “DUH” from the congregations?
3. Victims of sexual abuse are likely to be abuser as well. Make me the new monster! There is no proof of this, but the church and their apologists take this out for a spin on a regular basis. Paint me as the new threat to children and vulnerable adults! Once again the church needs you to suspend belief in the overwhelming evidence of institutional cover ups and re-victimization. Never mind that priests, nuns and lay members of the church have abused their positions of power and were given refuge, financial support and the institutional blessing of the church while victims were ostracized and painted as monsters. Urges, surely the victims have them and seek the same carnal pleasures that they were forced to comply with. Really?! Again, the church is lying to protect its treasure. It relies on the blind stupidity of the parishioners who believe everything they are told.
AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE:
4. The Priest is only guilty of being seduced. No kidding! You would be amazed at the number of times this has been thrown at me by “Good Catholics” and priests. It was my fault that he raped me. I tempted him, I led him down the path to this. Let’s for a moment suspend belief in reality that sexual activity with a minor under the age of consent is, at a minimum, statutory rape. Let’s for a moment suspend the logical notion that children who have not gone through puberty are generally not sexual creatures. Let’s suspend belief that an adult man is unable to distinguish between right and wrong. These acts, in my specific case, were not tender, passionate acts. They were brutal, criminal acts that resulted in injuries to my person, my well-being, my psyche. They stole my innocence, my faith, my trust and my ability to deal with the everyday world around me. At age 13, I assure you, I did not seduce a priest. He raped me, repeatedly. They were acts of violence. Acts of intimidation, dominance and depravity. Anyone who can embrace the idea of a child seducing an adult in this manner has, in my opinion, a seriously flawed thought process.
The next installment will be: “There is nothing we can do about it”
If you want to add to the discussion, feel free to comment…
The article by Nate Brit of the Boonville Daily News reads as follows:
An ex-Boonville priest suspected of sexually assaulting three mid-Missouri men in the 1980s has been taken into custody in New Jersey, Cooper County Prosecutor Doug Abele said today.
The suspect, Gerald Howard, was arrested with the help of the Bloomfield Police Department in New Jersey and the Boonville Police Department, Abele said.
A $1.5 million bond has been set, he said.
Howard is expected to be charged with three counts of forcible sodomy, three counts of attempted forcible sodomy and two counts of kidnapping, Abele said. Howard could face 5 years to life in prison if convicted on the sodomy charges.He could face 5 to 15 years if convicted on the kidnapping charges.
Howard once worked as a priest at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Boonville.
The prosecutor’s office is not naming the three alleged victims — identified in court documents as John Doe 1, John Doe 2 and John Doe 3 — to preserve their confidentiality, Abele said. Their names would become public if the case goes to trial and they are asked to testify, he said.
Former Boonville resident Mark McAllister claimed in August that Howard sexually assaulted him repeatedly during the 1980s while he was an attendee of the Boonville parish. He won a $600,000 settlement in connection with those claims in the fall.
McAllister claimed Howard as having worked at Ss. Peter and Paul and as having taken him on trips to places such as New Jersey.
The Cooper County Sheriff’s Department also participated in the investigation, Abele said.
Decisions about which charges to file had to be made based on laws that were in effect at the time the crimes are suspected of having occurred, Abele said. That meant consulting Missouri statutes in effect in 1983, 1984 and 1985, he said.
Judge Robert Koffman on Monday reviewed the grand jury’s recommendations Thursday in Cooper County. Koffman authorized the warrant that has been issued for Howard’s arrest, Abele said.
Capt. Don Smith of the Boonville police said the Sheriff’s Department launched the investigation into Howard in September and later transferred the case to Boonville police.
Bloomfield police took Howard into custody at his apartment today, Smith said. It was their first attempt to make contact with him.
The link also lists other related stories about this monster.
The next thing that needs to happen is the prosecution of those that knowingly moved this predator from New Jersey to Missouri by way of New Mexico. The giving and receiving Diocese should both be held criminally liable for their complicity in hiding this predator.
There are so many articles about the current antics of the Catholic hierarchy that it is tough to choose what to comment on these days. I have what I call my “You have to be kidding me file”. This file, mostly in the memo program of my iTouch, contains some random comments on things that I hear in the media or read in one of the many blogs that I visit on a regular basis. It is usually something so out there that it defies logic. Today I am dipping into the file to comment on the behavior of two separate dioceses in different parts of the country and a Catholic order that has cared for and tried to rehabilitate pedophiles before they release them back into the world.
Recently, Dr. Mark McAllister reached a settlement with the Archdiocese of Newark (New Jersey), the Diocese of Jefferson City (Missouri) and the Servants of the Paracletes in a civil action over abuse he suffered at the hands of Father Gerry Howard in Missouri. The abuse began in 1983 when Dr. McAllister was 13 and continued through 1988. Reports I have read indicate that this priest had a history of sexual battery long before arriving at the parish in Booneville Missouri. That is where our story really begins.
Father Carmen Sita of the Archdiocese of Newark, more specifically of St. Aloysius parish in Jersey City was charged in 1982 with “an act of penetration with a male juvenile on diverse dates” and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance to a minor”. Sita pleads guilty in January 1983 to sexual assault, is given five years probation and is packed off to Foundation House, a facility run by the Paracletes in New Mexico.
Let’s stop and analyze this mess. The priest is using illegal drugs to get his victims addicted and make them easier targets for his perverse actions. When he gets caught he pleads out and serves no jail time. I would love to know what parish the judge and the district attorney attend. Then he is off to the Paracletes in New Mexico. As soon as the flight to New Mexico goes “wheels up’ from Newark International Airport, the Chancery in Newark lets out a collective sigh of relief and washes its hands of this priest. He is now someone else’s problem.
He arrives at the treatment facility in New Mexico grateful that he is not the boy toy of some hardened (pun intended) criminal at Rahway State Prison back in Jersey. The Paracletes essentially run the Pedophile Protection/Relocation Program for the Catholic Hierarchy in the United States. After he completes his “program” he legally changes his name to Gerald (Gerry) Howard.
Stop! A convicted felon on probation in New Jersey in a cushy “renewal center” in New Mexico legally changes his name? I am not a lawyer, but something is not right here. Did the probation officer supervising Carmen Sita sign off on the name change? Did the Catholic Church sign off on the name change? It may just be me, but when you change your name, you have to get all kinds of records updated so that you can go on with your life. Everything from a drivers license to bank accounts to academic records and professional certifications have to be modified to reflect the new identity of the person who initially established them under his original given name. Did his probation records reflect the name change? Did the probation officer follow along with this or does he/she lose track of Carmen at this point?
He departs New Mexico and lands, somehow, in Boonville Missouri. He gets a priestly gig at a parish in the Jefferson City Diocese. Was this a collaborative assignment cooked up between the Archdiocese of Newark, the Diocese of Jefferson City and the Paracletes? Or did Carmen, now presenting himself as Father “Gerry” Howard land the job at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church all on his own? My question here is why did the Diocese not do a background check on Father Howard? If all of his credentials were in the name of Carmen Sita, how could they have not checked into why a Catholic priest would legally change his name?
There can be only two reasons for a priest to change his name. The first would be that he is in some sort of witness relocation program after testifying against some crime organization. With a name like Carmen Sita that seems plausible. Or, he has committed some heinous crime and is hiding from his past. In the former case, the feds would probably want the priest who testified against the bad guys to find a new line of work. In the latter case, the receiving Diocese should have had all kinds of bells (church or warning, take your pick) going off on why the “good father” changed his name. The obvious answer here is that the Archdiocese, the Paracletes in their role as the pedophile relocation specialists, and the Diocese of Jefferson City made a deal to hide the priest in the Midwest.
Any protest that these parties to the conspiracy thought he was “cured” would be specious.
And what about the supervising probation officer? All of these events are taking place as Gerry Howard, aka Carmen Sita is still on probation with New Jersey. Has he fallen off the grid? Did he violate his probation?
These organizations put this priest on a collision course with Mark McAllister and others like him. Although his tenure in the parish in Missouri was short lived, he had access to children and he exploited that access for his own perverse, criminal pleasure.
Father Howard was dismissed for “reasons other than abuse”. Exactly what were the circumstances of his departure. Did they catch him stealing? Did they catch him distributing drugs? Did they catch him abusing children? Did someone find out about his past and decide he was too much of a risk? We don’t know, the Jefferson City Diocese needs to answer that question. No really, they need to answer the damn question.
What we do know is that this monster used his position to get vulnerable boys into a compromising situation. He plied them with drugs and he committed sexual acts on them. He damaged them physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. He addicted his victims to drugs, as if it wasn’t bad enough that he sexually abused them.
Father Howard is still out there. He is still technically a priest because the Archdiocese of Newark failed to take action to defrock him and decided to trade him away to another diocese. I wonder if they had to offer up a couple of seminarians to be named later to get him into the Diocese of Jefferson City. Father Howard is still out there because the Diocese of Jefferson City failed to take action. Whatever the cause for his dismissal, the diocese failed to take appropriate action against this priest. This man should be serving a very long term in a very unpleasant penitentiary. There are probably some members of the dioceses and the Paracletes that should be sharing a cell with him for the deceit and fraud perpetuated on parishioners and specifically on this monster’s victims.
He is still out there. Perhaps he is still functioning as a priest either in the United States or somewhere in the world where he has easy access children. He is most likely still offending. The Catholic Hierarchy insist that they do not know where he is. I am not sure that they can be believed. After all, they did condone his behavior by reassigning a convicted sex offender who changed his name to avoid detection.
The respective dioceses report that they have had no new reports of abuse by other victims. SNAP has publicly announced more victims have come forward but do not want to do so publicly, at least not at this time. Can you blame them? I suspect that the victims know that going to the dioceses that protected and relocated this monster would be an exercise in futility. It is better that they notify civilian authorities outside of the diocese if they seek any chance of an honest and impartial investigation into their allegations. They will not get one from the Catholic Church.
Mark McAllister showed great strength in coming forward and bringing this monster back into the light. I want to acknowledge the courage it took for him to come forward and fight the good fight. By doing so, I have no doubt that others will come forward and tell their stories. He is a hero in every sense of the word.