Fund Drives and the Ghosts of Pedophiles Past

I received a letter in the mail not long ago from the “2009 Annual Campaign” for Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.  The campaign has a theme, “Celebrating Today… Preparing for Tomorrow”. As with all fundraisers, the letter came with a glossy brochure full of information on projects to be accomplished, scholarship assistance programs in need of support and the required breakdown of the recognition levels that accompany donations.  For only $10,000 you can have your name on the Cornerstone Society list!  (Act now!)

I understand that the school has requirements that exceed the money collected in tuition.   On the one hand, there are kids that need support to attend school and new computers always seem to be in short supply.  On the other hand, this was the place where I was singled out to be raped by my 8th grade religion teacher, Father Robert Gibson.  I was roughed up by the same priest in the chapel of this school and the nun that walked in on that event simply walked away.  This was the school where other students were targeted by other priests, either on the grounds or at events such as school retreats to the Fatima Center.  The documentation on the priests involved is pretty extensive.

In case you were wondering who the priests were, they are Father Robert Gibson, Father Peter Crynes (at the Fatima Retreat Center)  and Father Christopher Clay.  Those are the three priest who have been documented with histories of abuse and a connection to the school.  In the case of Peter Crynes, a reader who posted comments to this blog stated he was assaulted by Father Crynes at the Fatima Center.  Most recently, another priest who did some substitute teaching at Notre Dame Elementary School was charged with having child pornography on his computer. Father Robert Timchak is awaiting adjudication of his case in Pike County.  You can search for other predator, pedophile priests at Bishop Accountability.

My dilemma is this. do I simply shred the information on the fundraising campaign along with the request from Catholic Charities in Wilmington (How the hell did I get on that mailing list?) and be done with it?  Or do I write a letter explaining my reasons for not taking part in the fundraiser for the school?

I think it all comes down to one thing.  The Diocese has not been forthcoming with information on the predators it has long protected.  The Diocese and the parishes involved with the school have not actively sought out victims and tried to minister to there needs.  There has been no meaningful public acknowledgement of the damage done and the families torn apart.  There has been no acknowledgement of the faith destroyed and the trust lost.    There are, most likely, more of these monsters who are finding refuge in the secretive workings of the Chancery.  Until the Diocese of Scranton, the Catholic Church in the United States and the Holy See accept their responsibility and are held accountable for their role in the victimization of children and vulnerable adults, donors should decline any request for donations to any institution that is part of the Roman Catholic system.

Cut off the funding and the hierarchy will have to face the fact that they have forgotten their mission and have focused and all the earthly trappings that go with power, position and privilege in the Catholic Church.  If reforms are not implemented at all levels, the secrecy and the abuse that thrives inside that secrecy will continue.

If you are looking for a worthwhile organization to send your donation dollars, I recommend your local food bank.

Shameful Legacy

Bishop Martino

The current Bishop of Scranton and his predecessor have a dismal record of dealing with the issue of priest sexual abuse. While these men should have been working hard to tend to their flocks and drive the wolves from the church,  they seem to be proud of the fact that they have kept the financial damage from the sex abuse scandal to a  minimum. it seems that they were simply moving the problem from parish to parish, creating increasingly greater opportunities for these priest to find new victims.

The Catholic Church decided to handle the problem on its own, placing itself above the law and often failing to follow its own laws and teachings in their effort to cover up the crimes of its priests.  The Bishops may have been willing conspirators by helping to hide their predator priests and downplay the victims of sexual abuse in order to minimize the diocese’ exposure, protect church assets and avoid unfavorable publicity and scrutiny.  I’m sure the Bishop did not want a state investigator going through the personnel records or a motivated District Attorney exposing the involvement of the Bishop and his subordinates.  One would think this would be the strategy employed by organized crime in dealing with people who came forward with information detrimental to the organization.  Their “imposition” of Canon Law sanctions (or a lack thereof) on predator priests is as offensive an application of theological law to me as the imposition of Sharia law by Muslims.  The Catholic Church has gone rogue.

What evidence do I have to support this?  The sheer number of incidents and multiple repeat offenses by  priests in the diocese indicate that a climate exists for these people to have behaved in a criminal manner under the protection of the Bishop.

The Diocese of Scranton has had a number of priests accused, sued and/or convicted. A newspaper article indicated that there are at least 25 Diocesan priests that have been implicated in the Church’s sexual abuse scandal. 16 of those priests have been identified publicly while at least 9 are still being shielded by the current Bishop.  Given the dismal records of Bishop Timlin and Bishop Martino, it seems that the Diocese of Scranton may still be a safe harbor for offending priests.

I think it is time to rehash the list of the known offenders that have been documented in the Diocese of Scranton. I compiled this information from a variety of sources including newspapers, websites and organizations that are trying to force a change in attitude of church leadership in dealing with the scandal. It is not over, people! As long as the Diocese of Scranton and the Catholic hierarchy in the United States and in Rome continue to pay lip service to the scandal and hope that victims simply melt away while protecting those who have acted criminally, this problem will not abate. Abuse will continue to thrive in an atmosphere of secrecy.

The known rogues gallery for the Diocese of Scranton: (Assignment Histories are linked where they are available)

  • Robert J. Brague: He denied an inappropriate relationship with a 17 year old girl until he had to admit his activities when the girl became pregnant. A civil settlement was reached in 1995. He moved to Venice Florida where he continued as a priest until his death in 1997.  Assignment History
  • Francis Brennan: Sued twice for his inappropriate and criminal activities. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations had run out and the civil suits were dismissed. The Bishop of Scranton had been informed of his activities and he was reassigned, unfortunately the Bishop failed to remove this man from ministry. He died in 1974. Assignment History
  • Robert Caparelli: One of the more prolific pedophiles in the Diocese. Despite reports to the Diocese, he was continually reassigned to various parishes until his arrest in 1991. He was convicted and sentenced to prison. He died, while in prison, of AIDS. Several law suits have been settled by the Diocese with his victims. In the interest of full disclosure, Father Caparelli was assigned to St Vincents at a time when my parents were members of that church. Assignment History
  • Christopher Clay: Implicated in the Society of St John scandal. Accused of molesting a seminarian. He has never been sued or charged. However, he was suspended from ministry. He left Northeastern Pennsylvania and was acting as a priest in a church in Arlington Texas in 2004. Assignment History
  • Peter Crynes: Accused of sexual misconduct with 2 women. A newspaper report indicates that he admitted to inappropriate behavior with 2 high school girls. His case was allegedly forward to the Vatican for review. Assignment History
  • Eric Ensey: Part of the Society of St John Scandal. Suspended in 2002, sued in 2003. Settled with the victim. He is allegedly living in Paraguay. Assignment History
  • Robert Gibson: If you have read my blog before you are acquainted with this priest. He has been accused by at least 4 people of molesting adolescent boys. I am one of the accusers. According to the Diocese he is currently in a treatment facility in Missouri, suffering from dementia. Assignment History
  • Alex Hazzouri: Accused of sexually assaulting a 14 year old girl. The suit was dismissed
  • Albert Liberatore, Jr.: Accused of molesting an altar boy. Arrested and convicted in 2004. The Bishop was informed of his activities in 1997 but seemingly took no action. Reached a $3M settlement with the victim. Assignment History
  • Edward Shoback: Admitted to sexual misconduct with boys over a period of several decades. He is still collecting a pension which is garnished for the purpose of paying restitution to one of his victims. Never convicted. Assignment History
  • Thomas Skotek: Admitted to improper conduct and removed from ministry in 2002. Bishop Timlin returned him to duty after and evaluation. Assignment History
  • Michael Stevens: Pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a minor. While not in ministry, he does work on a diocesan computer team.
  • Virgil Tetherow: Arrested for downloading child porn on a church computer.
  • “Father Ned”: Accused of assaulting two boys. After completing counseling he was cleared for reassignment and molested a third boy.
  • Carlos Urrutigoity: Involved in the Society of St. John scandal. Accused of abusing at least 2 seminary students. At least 2 suits filed, one settled. He is now alleged to be living in Paraguay. Assignment history
  • Lawrence Weniger: Accused of fondling several boys in the 1960’s. Several allegations have been reported to the diocese according to then Bishop Timlin. Weniger died in 1972. Assignment History

According to press reports, there are at least nine additional diocesan priest who have been accused of sexual misconduct. Why are those names not provided to the public for the safety of parishioners? Is the Diocese of Scranton silently complicit in crimes against children by allowing these people to continue in ministry?

If you know of more abusive priests in Scranton, come forward. The list above may just be the tip of the iceberg.  It is by no means a complete list.