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.

 

 

 

NDHS Class of ’78

There has been a flurry of emails in the past couple of weeks from some of my classmates at Notre Dame.  My blog was discovered by a friend from  NDHS class of ’78 and she has been spreading the word.  I alluded to her email a few posts ago.  She thought that she may have been the last to know about the events that were taking place under our noses at the school on the hill in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania all those years ago.  Despite having gone public with the information in 2008, some 30 years after my departure from the tarnished halls of Notre Dame, there are people who are surprised to learn about what was happening during the 1970’s at the school and in the parishes that provided the student population.

I, for one, have no nostalgic love for my old school.  What to some may be the location of academic and athletic milestones and accomplishments was for me a reminder of treachery, abuse, lies and deception.  When I went to Stroudsburg in 2008 to speak with an Assistant District Attorney for Monroe County about Gibson, I arrived in town early enough to drive by my alma mater.  As I came up the hill, the familiar shape of the school chapel began came into view and my stomach flipped.  It had been one of the few times since my graduation in 1978 that I had been up there.  Unlike some of my classmates, the only fond memory I have of the building was leaving it for the final time after graduation.  I lost my yearbook a while ago, no doubt on one of my many Navy moves over the years. 

I do have good memories of classmates and friends in the classes that surrounded my graduating class.  Having been in a family that had 5 of 6 children in NDHS at one point I knew a lot of people, at least as acquaintances. Granted, the school only had an enrollment of only about 250+ students in grades 7 – 12 while I was there.  Until recently, I was unaware that some of those friends and acquaintances were keeping a similar great terrible secret to my own.  While the Diocese of Scranton will admit to only 4 Gibson victims, my list keeps growing with 2 more in recent weeks telling me that they were targeted.  I now know that there are multiple survivors in the NDHS alumni community. 

People are telling me that they had long wondered about Gibson’s mannerisms and arrogance.  One in particular indicated that his name often came to mind when they read an online story from the Pocono Record’s website about a priest being credibly accused or arrested.  And, for the record, I did talk to the Pocono Record on a few occasions after the story broke in the Scranton Times Tribune in September of 2008.  They declined to run a story because both Gibson and I no longer lived in the area.  That shortsighted editorial decision neglected to take into account that more of his victims were, indeed, still living in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

What I do see from behind the dashboard of this blog is a renewed interest in Gibson.  I am seeing a significant increase in the number of search engine queries for his name and either a camp, school or parish he was either assigned to or associated with included in the search.  I am seeing referrals from Facebook (I do not have an account for a number of personal and professional reasons) and other sites.   I am also getting emails, some of them are supportive, others are acknowledgements of what happened to other people all those years ago.  No one is really surprised by the predator, but there is shock at the revelation of what was really happening all those years ago.

With the news coming out of a Grand Jury Room in Philadelphia about the Archdiocese of Philadelphia protecting pedophile priests and trying to cover up their crimes, I suspect that there may be some traction for legislation in Harrisburg designed to allow survivors to seek justice and determine how the various dioceses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania  protected  priests, perhaps hundreds of them,  over the years.  I think it would be great if the Notre Dame Alumni community supported that effort and their classmates and friends who are now trying to get to the truth.  You may be surprised by who has been keeping a great terrible secret.

Contact Policy and Information

I spoke recently with someone who contacted me through the kind offices of another blogger.  The person wishing to speak to me was concerned about sending a comment to this blog and having it automatically post on the internet with their personal information available to anyone who may be reading the blog.  It took some effort for him to get me the message that he wished to speak to me privately.  After talking to him on the phone, I understand and will respect his request for confidentiality.

I want to let readers of this blog know that I review all comments that come to this blog before they are posted on line.  I have to approve the comment before it goes up on the blog and I have the ability to edit the comment to remove personally identifying information. If a reader sends me a comment that they do not want posted on the blog, I do not post it.  I have been contacted by several people looking for information on how to report a pedophile.  I have spoken to people who are not ready to come forward.  I try to provide support and put them in contact with someone that can assist them with whatever issue they are dealing with.  I recommend contacting your local SNAP chapter, the District Attorney or police for assistance.  I do not recommend contacting the diocese (any diocese), despite their protestations to the contrary, they have no vested interest in assisting victims.

Please be assured that I will not reveal any information that a reader wishes to keep confidential.  I strongly believe that I should never compound the harm on a victim of a sexual crime or their families.  If you wish to contact me you may leave a comment on any post to this blog or send me an email at mbbaumannblog@gmail.com. I will respond to you directly.

Bishop Timlin’s Precept and Decree on Father Robert Gibson

In February  1998, the Bishop of Scranton was the Most Reverend James C. Timlin.  He was the man who should have been  responsible for taking action to protect children who were the victims of predator priests in his diocese.  He seems to have been a complete failure.  He oversaw the diocese’s mishandling of a high visibility case involving Father Robert Caparelli.   Who knows how many other complaints against other priests he kept quiet during his tenure?   Bishop Timlin is currently Bishop Emeritus in Scranton.

Bishop Timlin issued two documents dated 2 February 1998.  The first was a precept.  A precept is a command to an individual that enjoins that person to do or not do something, especially in order to compel obedience of a law, regulation or directive.  In this case the precept ordered Father Gibson to stop representing himself as a Diocesan priest and to stop wearing clerical attire.

Bishop Timlin's Precept to Father Gibson in February 1998
Bishop Timlin's Precept to Father Gibson in February 1998

The second document was a decree that ordered Father Gibson to cease all ministerial activity. Oddly enough, the decree was issued for reasons of “health”. Reasons of Health? Is that what they call it at the Chancery when a priest has been accused of and admitted to molesting and raping children?

Bishop Timlin's decree terminating Father Gibson's ministry
Bishop Timlin's decree terminating Father Gibson's ministry

It is almost comical that the precept and the decree were both issued on Groundhog Day. I wonder if the Chancellor stuck his head out the window that morning and saw six more victims lining up to file reports.

I would imagine these documents enjoyed a very limited release as to not allow the parishioners, the police or the press to find out that the Diocese of Scranton was hiding another pedophile. By the time these documents were issued, Father Gibson had already been removed from the Diocese and, more importantly, the jurisdiction that could have sought criminal penalties against this monster. Father Gibson was sent to the Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Missouri.

This was a continuation of the Diocese’s policy of keeping things quiet and secret. You would think that they would have learned after the Father Caparelli case came to light in the 1990’s. Father Caparelli was convicted of sexually molesting boys and died in prison of AIDS in 1994. Is it possible that the diocese had a more prolific child rapist on its hands in the person of Father Gibson? We don’t know because the veil of secrecy still protects Father Gibson.

When are they going to learn? When are the parishioners in the Diocese of Scranton going to start holding there church leaders to account for their actions? More importantly, when are the public safety and judicial organizations in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania going to step in and dismantle this criminal conspiracy aimed at protecting pedophiles?