The Grand Jury Report Has Been Released

The Pennsylvania Attorney General has released the report on a two-year grand jury investigation into widespread sexual abuse of children within six dioceses of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania and the systemic cover-up by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at The Vatican.

The following links are provided:

The Attorney General’s Press Release

A-Report-of-the-Fortieth-Statewide-Investigating-Grand-Jury_Cleland-Redactions-8-12-08_Redacted 

Exhibits from the Grand Jury Report

The Response by the Dioceses

Link to a Survivor’s Video

All of the above links are from the official website of the Pennsylvania Attorney General.

A quick glance at the report revealed that Robert J. Gibson is listed as one of the priests creditably accused, but his case is not part of the write up in the document.  I had a screening interview via telephone when this investigation began, but my situation was not part of the Grand Jury.

Now the Church will wait for this to blow over.  I don’t expect the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will do the right thing and allow Survivors to call the Diocese to account for their complicity.

 

 

 

An Open Letter to Bishop Joseph F. Martino, Diocese of Scranton

Bishop Martino,

During January and February 2009, we exchanged letters on the topic of Father Robert J. Gibson who, as you are well aware, sexually abused and raped me as a 13 year old child in the rectory of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania , while on vacation at Walt Disney World and on a trip to New York City.  All of these events took place in 1974 when I was an eighth grader or rising freshman at Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.   As of this writing, I am still not satisfied with the action taken by you or your representatives on this matter.

From my vantage point, I see the Diocese of Scranton as a significant player in the policy of excusing and enabling the sex crimes committed by pedophile priests in your curia.  I believe that your administration and the administration of Bishop Timlin and the previous bishops of Scranton buried reports, prevented and delayed reports to civil authorities to outlast the statute of limitations.  I believe that the bishops acted in a blatantly criminal and arrogant manner to obstruct justice.  I have no doubt that victims came to the Diocese and sought help, justice, and guidance.  I am sure that many feel, as I do, that they were betrayed and violated all over again.

You and your predecessors had ample opportunities to act swiftly to protect children and vulnerable adults and to limit the number of victims of priests who were acting outside of the law and the church.  The bishops of Scranton, the chancery, the priests who have known about the actions of their brother priests and did nothing but look the other way all failed the victims, the parishioners of the Diocese and their God.

Perhaps your time in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia tempered your attitude towards victims.  All of Pennsylvania’s Catholic Diocese share a common legacy of secrecy and deceit. I see your administration as a continuation of an arrogant, self-serving attitude by those who feel entitled by their position to act any way they see appropriate to secure the secular trappings that accompany high office in the Roman Catholic Church.  At some point it stops being about God, doesn’t it?

Based on our correspondence, your writings, public statements and my observations of your actions in your Diocese through media outlets that cover you, I am convinced that you selectively choose those moral issues that you so vehemently champion.  Your zealous defense of conservative Catholic positions seems out of step with your Diocese’s deafening silence when it comes to the issue of the priest sex scandal. It must be effortless for you to compartmentalize your positions.  It must be simple to attack people and matters that are external to the walls of the Chancery on Wyoming Avenue.  It is alright to use the tactics of a bully on the likes of Senator Casey, Vice President Biden, and James Calderone or to threaten to close the doors of the Cathedral on St. Patrick’s Day if the parade isn’t your liking.  You must enjoy the thought of calling the administrators and faculties of the Catholic Colleges and Universities to task on health and diversity issues or to storm into a church forum and attempt to dictate the votes of the parishioners in accordance with your views.  Why, then, do you remain silent in your pastoral letters, actions, and statements about the epidemic of sexual crime/abuse within your own diocese?  Why have you taken no action against those that have committed these heinous crimes?  Why have you taken no action against those in your diocese who turned the other way or actively sought to cover up or delay reporting the sex crimes committed against children, adolescents and vulnerable adults in your diocese?

On a very personal level, I have not been satisfied with the treatment I have received while dealing with your Chancery.  Your responses to my letters and the responses from your representatives indicate that your diocese remains unwilling to take the serious actions required to safeguard the children of your diocese from predators wearing Roman collars.

You have failed to adequately answer my questions on actions taken against Father Gibson to include canonical proceedings to defrock him.  Were he to die today, I have no doubt that the Catholic Church would give him a funeral where his great works as a priest would be celebrated.  I am sure the names of his victims will never be mentioned. For the record, I have more names than the four unnamed victims stipulated to by you through your representatives.  I am sure that he will be carried to his grave in a manner befitting an exalted and faithful servant of God.  That will be a lie perpetuated by you!  I doubt we, his victims, will be notified of his death or invited to the celebration of his priestly life.  That would not be in keeping with your Diocese’s business model.  I would show up, to pay my last respects.

Why has the Diocese of Scranton failed to notify the parishes and schools to which Father Gibson has been assigned of his admitted actions?  There are more of his victims out there  who may have run across Gibson at any one of his assignments including  St Paul’s Parish in Scranton, St. Clare’s School, St Matthews in East Stroudsburg, St. Matthews School in East Stroudsburg (now known as Notre Dame Elementary School), Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg, St. Marks in Delaware Water Gap, St. Luke’s in Stroudsburg, Our Lady Queen of Pease in Brodheadsville, Holy Family in Jonas, St. John Bosco in Conyngham (my, that was a short 6 month assignment), St Bernadette’s Church in CanadensisMonsignor McGugh Elementary School and St. Ignatius in Kingston. You just don’t want to be bothered by all the mess that would accompany those victims coming forward.  I’m sure your staff found his love of alcohol an excellent cover story for his removal from at least one of these assignments.  You would rather they remain silent and isolated.  You care nothing of the damage done to their lives, families and their faith.  Multiply that damage by the number of other victims of the other priests that your Diocese has protected over the years, and you will begin to see the magnitude of the problem.

What steps have been taken to determine if others knew of Father Gibson’s crimes but turned their backs or enabled him to continue abusing? I cannot believe priests in residence at rectories where Father Gibson lived did not find his obsessions with boys as odd. One other victim told me that a priest, still in service to the diocese today, walked in on them while Father Gibson was molesting the boy and simply left the room. A nun walked in on a heated, very physical argument in the school chapel between myself and Father Gibson. No action was ever taken. Turning away is easy. All evil needs to thrive is for good people to do nothing.

The Bishops and Auxiliary Bishops, the Chancellors and the Episcopal Vicars who have held office in the Diocese of Scranton knew of the actions of this priest and far too many others.  You are all complicit in the crimes that have been committed by your lack of action.  Is not a sin of omission still a sin? Is there not one person of moral character among you that is willing to stand up and say this was a terrible wrong?

You have extended an invitation for me to meet with you.  At this time I must politely decline that invitation.  Traveling to Scranton to meet with you would be a complete waste of my time.  I do not need to be the next target of your bullying.  My greatest fear, however, is that you would enjoy the salacious details of the rapes, molestation, and abuse I suffered at Father Gibson’s hands.

I do hope that someday we will have the opportunity to meet.  I would love to know what kind of man would protect monsters like Father Gibson.  In the meantime, when you are saying mass in a chapel, your  Cathedral, or any of the churches that Father Gibson defiled through his deviant, immoral and criminal activities, I want you to think about the children you have failed, the families that have been wrecked and the souls destroyed because men like you did nothing.  At the moment of consecration, I want that flash of consciousness of the suffering of the victims of your priests to come over you.  Then perhaps, you will understand.

Very respectfully,

Michael Baumann

Connecting the dots…

My wife told me, when I first shared my secret with her, that I would be angry when I found out who knew that Gibson was a pedophile and who was protecting him.  She was right.  I am angry at the entire apparatus that has protected him and the other perp priests in the Scranton Diocese.  Some emails and blog posts that I have read in the last few days have brought it all into some clarity.

Let’s take a look at the litany of the protectors of the child rapists.

  • Bishop Timlin actively protected several priests.  He seems to have deftly moved perps from parish to parish or from parish to treatment center all on the down low.
  • Bishop Martino inherited the mess from his predecessors.  However, he cast his lot when he continued to keep the secrets of the rapist priests.  He is also, by many accounts, a bit of a bully.  This makes him difficult to communicate with and he prefers sending other people to do what the boss should do.  He sent his auxiliary Bishop to impose his will on St Patrick’s Day organizers in the Electric City.  He has his Chancellor and his Victim’s Advocate speak in his stead to victims.  That seems to smack of cowardice.  It may be my 23+ years in the Navy speaking, but the axiom fits here –  “When in command, command”.  Translation – When you are in charge, be in charge and take responsibility.  Man up!
  • Bishop DiLorenzo, currently the Bishop of Richmond, Virginia.  He served as an auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Scranton.  Nice to know that the Bishop of the Diocese in which I currently live may have had a hand in protecting my rapist and has ties to the Electric City Catholic Pedophile Conspiracy. I bet he knows where some of the priests are hidden!
  • Bishop Dougherty, the current auxiliary Bishop and former Chancellor of the Diocese of Scranton. As chancellor and now as auxiliary bishop he would be in the know on the extent of the misconduct and felonious activities of diocesan pedophiles. I wonder if auxiliary bishops are like vice presidents. It is a great title, but they don’t seem to have much to do except for the boss’s dirty work and hope that a better gig comes along.
  • James Earley, Chancellor of the Diocese of Scranton.  His signature is on most of the correspondence from the Diocese to victims.  He is the one who writes the letters to civil authorities (if prodded enough or when the diocese is cornered).  This man knows the names of the priests who are committing crimes.  I wonder how much they pay him to keep silent.
  • Father Richard Locke, Episcopal Vicar. He is the one that tracks all the personnel issues involving clergy.  I bet his file cabinet is chock full of felonious activity.
  • Monsignor John Bendik.  I have to ask, Monsignor what did you think Gibson was doing in the St. Luke’s rectory with all those boys in the 1970’s?  You may have walked in on inappropriate behavior, you must have seen something?  And yet you kept your silence.  Your name also appears in court cases for other priests accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.  So close to the flame so many times!  I wonder if your reward for silence is your current position as Monsignor?
  • The Legal Staff-  I am not sure who the attorneys for the Diocese are.  It is probably best that I don’t name the firm here. They are the pit bulls employed by Bishop Martino to insure that the victims remain in their place.  These are the people who cover the tracks of the guilty and those that protect them.  You guys should be really proud.
  • The Comptroller of the Diocese.  Follow the money! They were able to get Al Capone because, when it came down to it, the bookkeeper gave him up.  Where does all the money go? How much is paid to keep perp priests out of sight and away from the glaring light of truth?  How much is spent on lawyers who are there to revisit the pain on victims?  How much is spent on the meager payments to victims in those rare instances where a token settlement is paid to the victim?  Where do they hide the money in the diocesan accounts?  Where are the settlements recorded in the books?  How much do you pay for insurance in case another priest turns out to be a serial child rapist?  I bet those premiums are unpleasant!
  • Accounts Payable Supervisor.  Who writes the checks or pays cash to the counseling centers that provide therapy to the protected priests?  How much is being paid out for counseling expenses for victims?  The person making these payments must know why they are made.  Perhaps some trusted lieutenant to the Bishop is personally overseeing those payments.  Your payments are not that far from the payment made to Judas.  Think about it!
  • The Diocesan Review Board: Sister Celilia Meighan, RSM; Monsignor Peter Madus,V.F.; Mr. Donald Nicastro; Mr. Joseph Knecht; Carl Frank, Esq. I hope you all realize that your job is to protect children and those who are preyed upon by priests and other diocesan employees who commit crimes.  If you see your job as protecting the Bishop of Scranton, I would say you are doing a great disservice to your faith, the parishioners and the truth. I recommend that, if you have a spine, you resign in protest.
  • Teachers and Administrators at the schools where these men preyed on victims.  I cannot believe that no one noticed anything.  Hell, I had a nun walk in on a very ugly incident and she turned and walked away!  In my case I have little doubt that someone at Notre Dame knew Gibson was a pedophile.  Why was nothing done? The current principal was my 9th grade English teacher, he has been at that school for many years. I wonder how much he knows? I wonder how many more victims he can name? I am not accusing him of complicity. I do respect the man, I hope that anything he knows is after the fact. I could not stand another disappointment.
  • The Parishioners in the Diocese.  When are you people going to get it?  They are spending your money, the money you tithe, to protect pedophiles.  Is that what you want?  If it is, just keep stroking your checks.  You are complicit by not demanding that the Bishop be accountable.
  • The District Attorneys for the counties in the Diocese.  When are you people going to act?  Why do you give the Diocese a free pass and allow them to quietly take care of their own?  If this was any other company, someone would be in handcuffs.  The Diocese does not seem to be that far away from being an organized crime enterprise. Law enforcement should be doing investigations and the justice system should be the final arbiter of the truth.  Stop allowing the Diocese to police itself. 

The Diocese of Scranton is a safe haven for pedophiles as long as the people listed above continue to support the priests. It is time for a change in the way business is done in Scranton!

Abuse thrives in an environment of secrecy! These people are enablers of abuse as long as they keep the Bishops’ secrets.