Only Four, I Think Not…

Four.  That is the number of victims of Father Robert Gibson to which the Diocese of Scranton has stipulated. Four.

I don’t get it.  I cannot believe that the Diocese of Scranton continues to stubbornly stick to that number.  I have corresponded with survivors, family members of survivors, classmates of survivors, as well as friends.  I have spoken to officials at Notre Dame High School.  The number grows a little higher every time I get an indication that someone is looking for Gibson on Google.  Sometimes an email arrives a few days later, sometimes a comment appears.  The number I have is Fourteen.  Of course, I have names to go with the digits.  That is still a very low number.  Given the number of parishes, schools and camps he had access to and the number of years in his predatory prime, this man probably had victims that numbered in the hundreds.  He probably tried to groom or isolate more than that.  This man was prolific in his criminal sexual behavior against minors.  Against children!

Four?  I think not!  And the Diocese of Scranton knows it.  Someone in the diocese has access to his “secret” files.  Someone can go in and get a feel for how many complaints were submitted.  I bet the vast, overwhelming  majority of those were covered up.  Someone knows about the settlements and the confidentiality agreements that had everything to do with protecting the Bishop and the Diocese and nothing to do with protecting children, searching for victims and getting Gibson out of ministry and into the hands of the criminal justice system.  I know of one, the survivor told me himself.

Someone in the Diocese of Scranton has the names of other victims.  The Victim’s Assistance Coordinator gave me a name of another victim along with his contact information. (Not the one I alluded to in the previous paragraph.)

I have responded to emails, phone calls and blog comments from classmates of mine, from classmates of my siblings, from siblings of other potential survivors and from parents of Gibson’s other targets.

The magic number is not FOUR.  The Bishop of Scranton needs to come clean, now.  Not only on Robert Gibson, but on at least TWENTY-FIVE identified Catholic Priests and lay officials of the diocese that have credible allegations of criminal sexual assault on boys, girls and vulnerable adults.  Former Bishops have covered up and moved these monsters around the diocese allowing them access to fresh pools of potential victims.  The Bishops, only concerned with keeping allegations quiet and victims isolated, showed a reckless disregard for the safety and wellbeing of children in the diocese by moving Gibson and other monsters just like him from parish to parish.  And when the heat was too much, they moved Gibson to Missouri.  They put him in a Catholic “safe house”.  He is still there in Missouri, outside of the jurisdiction that could have tried him for the rapes and sexual assaults he committed over his career.

Just as a recap from a post I did in October 2008, Robert Gibson’s history of assignments:

1959-65 Scranton, PA St. Paul, 1510 Penn Ave. Priests: John J. Vaughan(Vicar Forane, Dean), Joseph F. Ryan, Joseph R. Doggett(’59), Francis A. Conlan(’60-62), Robert J. Gibson

School: 7 Sisters of the I.H.M. 1 lay teacher 484 pupils High school: 10 Sisters of the I.H.M. 280 pupils
Mission: St. Clare’s School: Sisters of the I.H.M. 7 Lay teacher 1 2215 Washington Ave. 401 pupils.
1966-67 directory not available (

1968-1970 Stroudsburg, PA St. Matthew’s, 200 Brodhead Ave. Priests: Thomas J. Cawley,Robert J. Gibson, John J. Bendik

St Matthews School: 7 Sisters I.H.M. 2 lay teachers 311 pupils Missions: St. Luke’s, Stroudsburg; St. John’s, Bushkill; St. Mark’s, Delaware Water Gap

1971-1974 Stroudsburg, PA St. Luke’s, 906 Main St. Priests: Francis G. Barrett, Robert J. Gibson In residence: John J. Bendik Mission: St. Mark’s, Delaware Water Gap.

St Matthews School, East Stroudsburg, Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School.

1975-82 Brodheadsville, PA Our Lady Queen of Peace Church Priest: Robert J. Gibson
Mission: Jonas, Holy Family.

School:  Still associated with St. Matthew’s and Notre Dame

1983 Conyngham, PA St. John Bosco Priest: Robert J. Gibson

1984-95 Canadensis, PA St. Bernadette Church Priest: Robert J. Gibson
Mission: Promised Land, Our Lady of Fatima

1996 -1997 Kingston, PA St. Ignatius, 339 N. Maple Ave. Priests: F. Allan Conlan, Glenn E. McGreary, Joseph B. Wilson In res., Robert J. Gibson Chapel—St. Ann’s

1998-2008 Unassigned or leave of absence.  In the case of Fr. Gibson, he was sequestered in the Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Missouri and now is reported to be in a hospital in the Ditmer area.  The report is from the Diocese.  I do not put much stock in the word of the Diocesan spokespeople, they seem to be accomplished liars.

The latest contact was from a family member of a probable victim of Gibson.  He came after me on the timeline.  I can’t help but feel a little responsible. I didn’t stop him.  I didn’t kill him when I had the opportunity. I didn’t turn him in, he had me completely terrorized.  I know intellectually that it was not my fault.  But the voice in my head hasn’t processed that yet.

Postscript: My middle son is one of the most brilliant minds I have ever known (from his mom’s end of the gene pool).  He was counting on his hands as my oldest son’s “love interest” was quizing him on the classic movies he should be familiar with as a modern, well healed male in the 21st century.  He was counting off the movies he had seen from her extensive list in binary (his world seems to spin on a slightly different axis, and that makes him a force of nature).

When he got to 4 I started laughing.  If you are as smart as he, you know what finger “4” is on when counting in Binary.  That knowledge in hand, so to speak, I would like to offer something to the Diocese of Sranton.  I got your “four” right here.

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.

Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School

A recent comment to this blog recommended that I return to Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania to speak to the faculty about my experiences.   To quote the comment:

“I think you would be welcomed at Notre Dame because you have an important story to tell. You are part of this family. You would put a human face on the abuse problem. It is so painful to read some of what you have written but it is important that the truth be told.”

ndms front with chapelLets get this clear from the start, I would not be welcomed back to Notre Dame to speak on the subject of the sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of a Catholic Priest associated with the Diocese of Scranton and the school. Bishop Martino and the Diocese would never grant the school permission to offer such an invitation, even if the current school administration wanted to extend such an offer to me.

 The last thing the Diocese wants to do is to shine a light on a perpetrator that once stalked the halls of the school searching out his next victims. It would be bad for Bishop Martino, Bishop Timlin and just about all the clergy that have a connection to the school at the time that Gibson was raping children who attended the school or were members of the St. Luke’s, St. Matthew’s and Our Lady Queen of Peace Churches. (Monsignor Bendik must be cringing over his days at St Luke’s in Stroudsburg) Any publicity that would follow would surely not be good for the Diocese and would provoke a discussion that they are simply unwilling to have with teachers, administrator, parents, students, parishioners or the local population.  They would have to stipulate to the fact that they had more than one abusive priest in the school over the years and that these priests went on to abuse at other parishes and schools in the Diocese. 

It is simply not in the interest of the Diocese to tell the truth, own up to the past and do the right thing.  This would be a bad business decision.  The only thing the Diocese wants is for people to keeping pay tuition to the schools, tithing to the parishes and donating to the Bishop’s annual fund.  As I have said before in this blog, at some point it stopped being about God, doing the right thing, taking responsibility to inform the parishes of predator priests and seeking out the other victims.  It stopped being about morality and doing what Christ taught. The business model is reflective of the Catholic Hierarchy, but it is not very Christian in its practice. The terms Catholic and Christian are, at times, mutually exclusive.

I have no current association with Notre Dame High School.  I do recieve the periodic cards coinciding with significant dates in the Catholic Calendar and the typical requests for donations from Alumni.  I move the cards directly from my mailbox to the shredder and I can say, with absolute certainty, that I will never reply to a fund raising/donation drive that would benefit the school.

In regards to being part of the “Notre Dame Family”, I feel no such sentimental attachment to the place.  I do not feel the least bit nostalgic about my 5 years at the school.  To be honest, those were some of the darkest days of my life.  Why on earth would I romanticize that experience?  If anything, that “family” is pretty dysfunctional given all the secrets kept within those halls since the “70’s.

I did enjoy seeing classmates at the reunion a few years ago and I keep in contact with a couple of those classmates by email.  I have corresponded with some of my contemporaries who were at the school from 1973-1978.  Some were in my class, others were in the same year as my older brother or my three sisters. ( My youngest brother did not attend Notre Dame.)

I would consider attending another reunion if one were held.  I am not sure how my classmates would react to me after they became aware of my efforts to publicly expose Father Gibson for what he really was.   As for teachers, most of them are long gone from the school by now.  My 9th grade English teacher, Mr Jeffrey Lyons, is the current principal, his wife, Ms. Linda Lyons still teaches physical education there and  Mr. John Musyt is also still with the school in the Guidance Department.  I was able to determine where a couple of the nuns (Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) have ended up. Sister Marilyn Grosselfinger is at St Raymond’s School in East Rockaway, New York and Sister Kathleen Joy Steck is at St. John the Evangelist School in Binghamton, New York. To be honest, I was not one to form attachments to faculty for very obvious reasons. (Do not take away from this paragraph that I think any of these people knew of Father Gibson’s activities at the time.)

I have been back to the Notre Dame Campus twice since my graduation in 1978. The first time was when I went back for the reunion in 2004, the second time was the night before I went to see the Monroe County District Attorney in September 2007. All I needed to see was the chapel looming at the top of the hill and my stomach flipped. I have no desire to go up that hill again.  It would take an extraordinary invitation for me to return to that place. I have no plans to show up unannounced and uninvited to embarrass the school or cause a media event.  

 I don’t make any promises to that end with the Chancery, Our Lady Queen of Peace Church and rectory or the Cathedral in Scranton.  Those locations are fair game. (The Pocono Record wouldn’t cover the story. They declined to look into the story a couple of years ago, citing a lack of local interest since Gibson was in a facility in Missouri and I was living in Virginia. This was exceptionally shortsighted since more victims live in Northeast Pennsylvania. Such are the decisions made in a small town newspaper.)

I do not know and will probably never know who knew anything about Gibson and his “predisposition” for boys at Notre Dame.  The more I learn in talking to other victims of Gibson and people who have had similar experiences with other perps, the more I am convinced that there were people who knew what he was doing and chose to turn a blind eye and others who suspected something was not right and  failed to report what they suspected.  I would not be surprised if there were actual concerns raised.  I would also not be surprised if the Diocese  quietly kept the reports under wraps. 

After thinking about it, the school on the hill is not a place to which I see myself returning any time soon.

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.