St. Crispin’s Day

Today, 25 October, is the Feast of St Crispin.

It is also the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt (1415) during the Hundred Years War between France and England.  It was an English victory despite the overwhelming numerical superiority of the French forces that engaged a tired English army.  A turning point in the war, Agincourt represented the beginning of a series of English victories. That moment in history was captured in Shakespeare’s play, Henry V.

Where am I going with this little Cliff Clavin moment today?  Within the play, Henry V, King Harry gives a rousing speech to motivate his beleaguered army in the face of overwhelming odds against the French that day.  I see parallels to the struggle of survivors of clerical sex abuse against overwhelming odds with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and it’s apologists and supporters.  The likes of Senator Joe Scarnati and Catholic League President Bill Donohue come to mind.

While we survivors are vastly outnumbered, and the Catholic Lobby can spend obscene amounts of cash to curry favor (that they do not deserve at any price) with politicians, we can find some comfort in King Harry’s speech to his rag-tag army in the field.

Words have meaning. They can inspire, they can dissuade. For me, this passage from King Harry is my motivational. It helps me to stay engaged in the struggle to force the Catholic Church to admit the truth they adamantly deny.

KING: What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters (the Bard will forgive me) need to stay the course and finish this fight.  I will ask you once again, are you with me?  Are your hearts in the trim?

Take it, brave York. Now, soldiers, march away:
And how thou pleasest, God, dispose the day!

The Passing of a Predator Priest

I don’t post here very often anymore. But when an email arrived in the early morning hours this past Friday with a link to a story on PennLive.com about the death of a prolific Archdiocese of Philadelphia pedophile I felt the need to pass the information along.

brzyskiJames Brzyski, alleged to have had more than 100 victims while a priest in the Archdiocese during the 1970s and 1980s died in Texas a few days ago.   The Archdiocese sent him to “treatment” (read that as hidden from civil authorities by the Archdiocese) after being credibly accused of sexual assault.  He walked out of treatment and left the ministry.  The Archdiocese only told parishioners that he departed for “medical reasons.” Like most predator priests in Pennsylvania, he was neither charged or prosecuted for his sex crimes against children because of the statutes of limitation.

Brzyski was living in the Dallas, Texas area when an investigative reporting team from The Philadelphia Inquirer found him. He declined a request to be interviewed.  Within a month of being discovered, he was found dead at the Super 7 Motel in Fort Worth.  You can read the article from the Inquirer here.

I want to send my condolences to his victims.  The truth and extent of his crimes may have died with him.   I know from personal experience that the death of the priest who raped children brings a broad range of emotions for a survivor.  There is relief that the monster is dead. There is also anger that he made it out of this life without having to answer for his sins,  face his victims or pay for his crimes.  What may be potentially worse for survivors is the knowledge that the Archdiocese is breathing a sigh of relief that another of the pack of wolves they have protected and supported for years is no longer causing a scandal for the church.

When  Robert Gibson died in 2012,  I was numb, confused and angry.  Not so much at him, but at the Diocese of Scranton for choosing to shield him, deny the truth and not make the simple decision to protect children.

The death of James Brzyski tears the scab off the wound for all his victims and their families.  His death does not make the pain any better, it just makes it different. If you were one of his victims, reach out.  Don’t shoulder this burden alone.  What he did to you was not your fault.

I do not believe in heaven or hell. I don’t have the option of wishing he would burn in hell along with the rest of the Roman collar criminals.  I would like to see the wrath of the survivor community come down on those in the hierarchy of the church that protected monsters like James Brzyski.  I really don’t care if that justice is awarded in a courtroom or on the streets.

Link to the section on James Brzyski in the Grand Jury Report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Dallas News Report on Brzyski’s death

 

 

 

Action Alert from the Foundation To Abolish Child Sex Abuse (FACSA)

 

This is from an email that FACSA sent out Yesterday.  It was important enough to come out of my self imposed archive.

1-888-538-8541

Last April, the PA Attorney General’s Office established a toll-free phone number for survivors of child sex abuse (who were PA residents, or were abused by someone in PA) to call if they wanted to file a report of being sexually abused or molested as a child under 18 no matter how long ago the abuse happened or no matter who committed the abuse.

The AG’s office is asking victims from all the places/institutions and all the alleged criminals that have literally gotten away with soul murder. Hopefully, the AG’s office will be able to take further steps to expose the criminals and the criminal institutions that aided and abetted the perps.

1-888-538-8541

While your specific abuse may have happened so long ago that there is no criminal or civil charges you can file, by your identifying perps and complicit institutions now, other victims may gain the courage to come forward once they realize they were not the only one abused by their perp.  Additionally, we anticipate there are many institutions over the years that have hidden cases of child sex abuse when it happened and with the children they were supposed to be protecting. The perps and the institutions need to be held accountable for the damage that happened.

1-888-538-8541

Please call this number. Leave a message. Someone will call you back.

Your story could be of help to other victims.

And then SHARE, SHARE, SHARE this email/post!
PS: If you lived in the Allentown Diocese when you were abused, please also contact Rep. Mark Rozzi.
On Facebook: Private Message Rep. Rozzi at https://www.facebook.com/VoteRozzi
Via Email: MRozzi@pahouse.net

If you live in PA, A word from FACSA (Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse)…

FACSA – Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse

Contact Your PA House Rep ASAP

Please contact your local PA House legislator and ask him/her to support Rep. Mark Rozzi’s proposed amendments to Senate Bill 681 which the full PA House will be voting on very soon possibly in the next day or so.

A. How to find your legislator: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/

B. Bullet points we suggest you use in your communication with him/her:

  • Please support SB 681
  • Additionally, please support the all the Rozzi amendments that will help give justice to victims of child sex abuse which increase the statute of limitations from 12 years to 32 years for civil actions arising from the sexual abuse of a minor and create a two year “window” to allow past child sexual abuse victims the opportunity to seek civil recourse from their perpetrators.
  • Include a short sentence or two of why you support this legislation.
  • Thank them for their consideration of this matter.
  • Include your name and address.

—————————————-
FYI: Letter we sent to all legislators today. It has a bit more detail about the proposed legislation.

December 9, 2013

Dear Legislator:

The House will soon consider SB 681 which would allow victims of sex crimes to protect themselves from predators. While we support this legislation, we ask that you also support the Rozzi amendments to give victims access to justice. Currently, Pennsylvania’s archaic statute of limitations laws mean that thousands of victims cannot have access to the courts for civil proceedings – just because their legal “clock” has expired.

The first Rozzi amendment would remove the statute of limitations for civil actions arising from the sexual abuse of a minor and provide a “window” up until age 50 for abuse victims to file civil action if the statute of limitations has expired. It would also remove “sovereign immunity” defenses for public officials who commit sexual abuse.

Other amendments would increase the statute of limitations from 12 years to 32 years for civil actions arising from the sexual abuse of a minor and create a two year “window” to allow past child sexual abuse victims the opportunity to seek civil recourse from their perpetrators.

We are bombarded by horrendous stories of child abuse and the legal maneuvering that ensues.

For those of you who want real justice for the Sandusky victims or the victims of the Philadelphia Catholic diocese scandals, it is time to amend our outdated statutes of limitations.

It is time to stand up for the victims; not the predators.

Below and attached please find over 30 organizations who strongly support statute of limitations reform:

Catholic Whistleblowers, Child Protection Project, Coached Into Silence, Crime Victims Center, Culture of Silence Film, Horace Mann Action Coalition, Jewish Board of Advocates for Children, Justice4PAKids, Justtell.org, Let Go Let Peace Come In Foundation, MaleSurvivor, Ms. Foundation, National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, National Child Protection Training Center, National Crime Victim Bar Association, National District Attorneys Association, OAASIS: Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors in Service, Parents for Megan’s Law, PA Gestalt Center, Patches Kids, PCADV: PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence, PCAR: PA Coalition Against Rape, Protect the Hershey’s Children, Inc., S.E.S.A.M.E., Inc.: Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, Safe4Athletes, SFJ: Survivors for Justice, SNAP: Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SOL-Reform.com, Stop the Silence, The Awareness Center, The National Center for Victims of Crime, Turning Point, Vertigo, LLC/Pursuit of Truth Film, Voice of the Faithful

On behalf of all of them, and on behalf of victims everywhere, please vote for the Rozzi amendments to SB 681.

A Month of Significant Events Does Not Change My Reality

It has been an interesting 31 days.  I still have not processed it all.  I don’t know how to process some of it.  I have been told to try to look at these things in the context of “the glass being half full”.  What I have found in looking through my own personal lens at all that has happened since May 25th, is that the glass is broken. 


In May, Robert Gibson, the Catholic priest who raped me while I was an 8th grade student at Notre Dame Jr/Sr High School in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, died.  True to form, I was informed of his passing by a source close to the Gibson family and not by the Diocesan official who had promised to inform me of his inevitable death. 

To be honest, I was numb.  I was neither happy nor sad that he had died, I was not angry at not having had a chance to confront him while he lived.   Many of the people who emailed me after I blogged about his passing were quick to offer their thoughts on the man who had committed criminal acts (this was not just abuse) against many, and had betrayed us all.  There was another shocking revelation about him that came with the news of his death  that should not have surprised me, but it did.  Another of his victims shared his story with me as the news of his passing got out.  I don’t feel like I should be celebrating the end of a life, no matter how malevolently lived.  In his addled later years, I am told he was a shell, a soul lost to dementia.  I don’t think I should take any solace in his condition at the conclusion of his life.  With the onset of that condition also came the death of truth for me and many others.  There was no last moment apology from a dying man, no admission to his crimes, no sense of his prolificity when it came to the number of children he raped, sodomized, tortured or beat while he was being “naughty” during the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.   There was no accounting. 

Many have told me he is going to get his in the next life.  I don’t believe there is a next life and I don’t believe in hell.  Gibson escaped this life and atonement for his crimes with the aid of the Diocese of Scranton, the Catholic Church and a network of Roman Collar Crime supporters who probably all breathed a collective sigh of relief as he breathed his last shallow, labored breath. 

While this was all going on, the jury in Philadelphia was deliberating the fate of two priests, one accused of molesting a child, the other of covering up crimes and endangering children.  As the jury deliberations dragged on, I could not help but wonder if there was a juror who could have been refusing to convict on religious grounds.  Perhaps the church had gotten to someone on the jury with threats or payments.  Based on my dealings with the church,  I saw this as very possible because I do not differentiate between organized crime and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  The jury did  convict Monsignor Lynn, finally, on only one count of endangering a child.  The jury deadlocked on the priest on trial for molesting a child. That was a start, albeit a very poor one.

Monsignor Lynn used the defense of superior orders or the “Nuremberg” defense.  It was really Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua who should have been on trial and he “conveniently” died the day after a judge ruled him competent to testify in Lynn’s trial.  With Lynn’s conviction we have a lieutenant going to prison while the generals are untouched.  While I welcome the conviction as a first step, it is by no means a leap and I do not see it as a major turning point in the struggle to force the hierarchy of the church to come clean on the conspiracy of silence and the further victimization of children and vulnerable adults.   I will feel a little better when I see someone in purple or red vestments being led away in handcuffs to serve a long-term behind bars for their crimes. 

And then there was Jerry Sandusky’s trial.  The defense here was that the victims were seeking monetary awards.  They were greedy and willing to bring this kind man down.  Sure he was a little overly affectionate, so what if he liked sharing showers with young boys.  Luckily the jury saw through that and convicted on almost all counts of the indictment.  He will appeal; we will go through all this again.  He will put the victims through the scrutiny and the attacks that should rightfully be aimed at him.  Just when you thought you heard it all, his stepson came forward and identified himself as one of the victims.  I am not surprised. 

The true test will be when the Penn State officials who covered up the reported incidents that allowed for other children to be placed in danger of rape and abuse.  When I see a Pennsylvania jury convict based on strong evidence I will start to believe that a change is coming. 

There are bills that have been stuck in the judiciary committee of the Pennsylvania General Assembly that are moving, at a glacial pace, towards the floor for a vote.  Held up in the Judiciary committee by the imperial chairman Ron Marsico for a long time,the bills  finally moved on to another committee because of the intense pressure of the two trials going on in the Commonwealth.  Finally, Marsico’s political peril overcame his loyalty to the Catholic Hierarchy.  If those bills pass and the governor of Pennsylvania signs them into law, I will start to believe. 

In the meantime, I watch the Catholic faithful announce that justice and honor have been satisfied.  They mimic the voices from the pulpit that claim the scandal is past and that we must look forward.   We must turn a blind eye to the past and to the victims for whom justice and honor have not been satisfied and truth has been denied.  We must look to the future and protect the mother church! (Sarcasm intended) 

This is not over.  The church’s hierarchy has not paid a vulgar price for its vulgar complicity and parishioners’ complacency.  It has not learned its lesson and the faithful have not seized power from those who have abused it for centuries.  It is business as usual.   It is all about power, prestige and keeping butts in the seats for the Sunday morning magic show and keeping the revenue stream flowing.  I have such low expectations for the Catholic Church.  I have set the bar ridiculously low for the church and marveled at how they continue to fall short. 

Nothing has changed, yet…

Repost: Abuse Trials Miss Other Victims

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq_ed_board/Abuse-trials-miss-other-victims.html

This is from Philly Inquirer Sunday June 24 page c-4 OPINION PAGE

Outside their own circles, they’re mostly unknown — and certainly not referred to as Victim No. … But other child sex-abuse victims across Pennsylvania are just as entitled to justice as those whose accusations were heard in the sensational trials of a former college football coach and a high-ranking Catholic Church official.

Many of the other victims have also suffered in silence for decades, often unable to admit to themselves the horror of being abused as a child or teen. And if they did decide to come forward, it would likely be too late under the state’s criminal and civil statutes.

These other victims waited even as separate juries wrestled with the charges against former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, whose alleged victims now include an adopted son, and Archdiocese of Philadelphia Msgr. William Lynn — who on Friday became the first U.S. church official convicted in a child sex-abuse case.

Sandusky was found guilty late Friday on 45 counts of child sex abuse. Lynn was found guilty earlier on one count of child endangerment and acquitted on two other charges. The jury deadlocked on two child-abuse counts against the Rev. James J. Brennan.

For victims in yet unknown cases to get their day in court, Harrisburg lawmakers and Gov. Corbett must push aside special interests, including the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the insurance lobby, and carve a path to the courthouse. 

A proposal from State Rep. Michael McGeehan (D., Phila.) would do just that, by opening a two-year window for long-ago victims to file civil suits that would allow victims to expose both the accused and those who shielded them.

For more than a year, McGeehan’s bill — and a related proposal to remove abuse-case statutes of limitation, sponsored by State Rep. Louise Williams Bishop (D., Phila.), who was also a childhood abuse victim — went nowhere in the face of determined church opposition.

Wednesday, however, in a sign that lawmakers finally felt the weight of publicity from the two trials, the House Judiciary Committee approved a modified measure crafted by the panel’s chairman, State Rep. Ron Marsico (R., Dauphin). That bill would eliminate statutes of limitation on future criminal prosecutions in child-sexual-assault cases and give victims until age 50 to lodge civil claims.

But Marsico’s measure still does nothing to help long-ago victims.

Apart from the verdicts, the Lynn and Sandusky cases amply demonstrated the need to loosen the statutes, to tighten reporting of abuse claims, and, most important, to provide justice to victims whose predators were shielded by institutional cover-ups.

In pursuit of Lynn’s conviction for child endangerment, prosecutors offered compelling proof that, as the city’s former top prosecutor, Lynne M. Abraham, said, “the cover-up went all the way to the top,” including then-Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.

At Penn State, two top officials face criminal charges that they helped cover up child-molestation allegations about Sandusky. Appallingly, even former university president Graham B. Spanier failed to alert authorities.

Now, more than ever, it’s time to stand with all abuse victims.

Outrage over Joe Paterno

Game day! Today will be the final game at Beaver Stadium for many of the seniors on Penn State’s storied football program. There are a lot of people who are incensed at the thought of the “indignity” of Coach Paterno’s sudden departure without the “well deserved”, Happy Valley send off that should go to the man who, for a career that spanned five decades, espoused victory with honor. Students showed their displeasure at the Board of Trustees firing of Joe Paterno by rioting, overturning vehicles and confronting police. It is to those students that I would like to send this post.

Joe Paterno had a responsibility to take action when he was informed of the actions of his assistant coach. The rape of a 10 year old boy in the football facility was a brutal crime. Coach Paterno reported the incident but he did not follow up to insure that action was taken. In spite of knowing that Jerry Sandusky had raped a child, Coach Paterno continued to served as an honorary trustee for the nonprofit that Mr. Sandusky used to groom victims. JoPa never followed up to insure that other children were not put into harm’s way with this predator.

Had one of the victims been one of Coach Paterno’s grandchildren, I am sure his actions would have been dramatically different. From the moment that the coach had a credible allegation that Sandusky was committing crimes against children, especially rape, Coach Paterno should have done everything in his considerable position of power to protect children from this predator. Coach Paterno’s word reverberated through Happy Valley like thunder. And yet he was silent. Paterno may not be legally responsible for the rapes or assaults on children that came after he had knowledge of allegations. But he is morally complicit, as is every Penn State official that turned a blind eye in the name of Penn State Football. Victory with Honor! Just words, hollow and meaningless, because the man who embodied them was hollow and meaningless in protecting children at risk.

So when you lament the way in which this man was treated and recount his successes on the grid iron and his love for his players and the debt that you believe the University owes him, think for a moment about the ten year old boy in the shower who did not understand why he was being violated in ways that he did not understand. Think about the victims that came after and how their lives were destroyed.

Really, rioting was your way of supporting a football coach? I bet that took a lot of liquid courage! The video I have seen of people with masks and scarves covering their faces as they went on a rampage, confronted police and destroyed property shows just how much cowardice was present in that crowd. Your protests were as hollow and meaningless as the honor of Coach Paterno.

Coach Paterno failed as a coach, and a community leader. He failed as a man. Maybe when the beer and stupidity has left the bloodstreams for those students threatening their own community and those that did take a stand, the enormity of the crimes against these children will come into sharp relief. The pain and the damage that will haunt their lives will far outweigh the meaning of today’s game against Nebraska.

At the risk of alienating two of my siblings who graduated from Penn State, I can only surmise that the faculty, staff, alumni and students who place a higher premium on college football than the protection of children show an incredible lack of moral courage. If this is what Penn State is all about, the rioters on Wednesday night were smart to cover their faces. I would be embarrassed to be associated with that University as well.

“We are Penn State!” Big freakin deal!

A little focus people! Go back to your studies, apparently you have much to learn.