Something is not quite right

I inquire as the health and well-being of my perp, Robert J. Gibson, periodically.   I did so last month to the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Scranton.  Admittedly, the email to Joan Holmes was pretty sarcastic. I asked the question “Is the monster still alive?”.   I did edit out the adjective I used initially.

As is the standard operating procedure of the Diocese, Ms. Holmes wrote me a wonderful little email in reply, passing my questions to the new chancellor.  What I felt most disturbing about Ms. Holmes email dated on 7 April during Holy Week (For victims of sexual crimes committed by priest that week of 2012 is known as the first week in April)  was the passage that read:

As for the trial in Philadelphia, it fills me with sadness and compassion for the victims.  At this time during Holy Week, I look at Jesus crucified and I see both priest and victim, so I pray also for the Church He founded.” 

You see the priest crucified?   Really?!  I can see a church official seeing the victim crucified.  That makes perfect sense.  The church seems to be crucifying us on a regular basis either through their lawyers, PR Firms or through the wonderful (check the sarcasm meter) people of the Catholic League.  I guess it is symptomatic of her being sympathetic to the hierarchy of the church that both pays her salary and protects predators in roman collars.  There is really no doubt as to where the “Victim’s Assistance Office’s” loyalty falls.

I need to reiterate to the people out there who were victims of sexual crimes by religious or laity in the Diocese of Scranton, the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator’s office  is not there to help you.  It exists to collect information for the Diocese so that a defensive strategy can be established and the victim of the crime can be marginalized, sidelined or silenced.  This office is not an advocate for the victim.  If you are looking for assistance in Pennsylvania, I would recommend you contact the local police department or district attorney and the Foundation to Abolish Child Sexual Abuse (FACSA).  The Diocese will not offer anything more than lip service to assist you.

The second response to my email came from Ms. Teresa Osborne, the current Chancellor for the Diocese of Scranton.  Her email was the official response for several of my questions.  Let the record show, they are mostly non-answers.

In regard to the question of whether or not “the monster” still draws breath, her answer was ” Robert Gibson is alive and continues to reside in a secure residential facility for priests in the state of Missouri.”  I will have to assume he is in the Catholic Church’s minimum security location for incarcerating predator priest in Dittmer, the St. John Vianney Renewal Center. (and people are worried about Sharia Law? The Catholic Church has been running an underground “jail” network for years!) Funny, last time they were adamant about the fact that he was an old man suffering from dementia in a long-term medical facility in Dittmer, a hospital.  They had previous told me he had been moved out of the Vianney Center.   OOPS!  Someone should have coordinated the response (lies) from the Diocese to make it consistent with earlier reports (lies, half truths) to me.

I am driving west to an event at the end of the month.  Maybe I should swing by Dittmer and pay a visit on Robert Gibson and get a first hand look at what kind of condition he is in. Will he be in a room or on the golf course?   I will just plug the address (6476 Eime Road, Dittmer, MO 63023) and let my Garmin direct me on the most efficient way to get to the “secure residential facility”.  Anyone up for a road trip?

In response to my question about why I was never interviewed, the Chancellor said “From the time your allegation was brought forward, the Diocese of Scranton accepted what you said as true”.  Still, I think it odd that the Diocese did not interview me for purposes of a canonical  proceeding.  It was not odd, I later found out, because they did not refer the case to the Vatican.  The Chancellor goes on to say “… Robert Gibson’s status was recently re-evaluated by the Diocese and a referral of his case to the Vatican was initiated.”   That is about as non-committal as responses come.  Did the Bishop order a an action?  What was the action requested?  When was the action forwarded to the Vatican?  Why have I still not been interviewed?   If her goal was to appease me with her email, she fell short of the mark.

As expected, the Diocese has done essentially nothing.  They will continue to do nothing.   I think I need to program my Garmin GPS unit and start my trek across I-64 heading west towards Dittmer, Missouri.   “Recalculating…”

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.

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.

Threats and intimidation

Over time, Gibson became much more controlling and aggressive.  He was less likely to “soften” me up with alcohol and much more forward when he had the opportunity to get me alone.  His initial caring words and expressions of god’s love and understanding that what we were doing was good and right and part of the way god allowed him to express his love for “his boys” turned very menacing.  The more I resisted or tried to fight him off, the more physically and emotionally abusive he became.  I think he was determined to break me.  I am not ready to get into more detail on the actual acts he committed at my expense.  In the back of my head I am afraid that the salacious details would be the equivalent of porn for perp priests.  I also don’t think at this point it is information that I can just put out there.  I am not there yet.

The threats were subtle at first.  He would tell me that no one would take the word of a child over that of a priest.  Anything that I would say would be the product of an over active imagination and disregarded.  He told me I would be severely punished for telling lies.   Any allegations made would motivate  my mother to send me away.  He always seemed to infer that he had her passive permission because priests had a special station in life.  It was his privilege and therefore no one would do anything about the situation on the outside chance that they believed me.  But, rest assured, I would not be believed.  He told me the nuns and lay teachers at the school would not do anything and the other priests would support him.  After all, they all had their “favorites” as well.    I was suspicious and afraid of anyone on the staff of the school.  Whether it was rational or not, I became convinced that people were aware of what he was doing to me and that they had no problem with it.  I would look in disbelief at the people in the schools office when he would take me off campus during the school day.

The nature of the threats changed rapidly.  Since he was a powerful and well loved pastor he could expel me and my siblings from Notre Dame and St. Matthews Elementary school without anyone challenging him. He was above reproach.  His word would be good enough to remove us all from school.   He told me that my siblings would hate me for having to attend a public school and leaving their friends behind. My parents would be humiliated,  my mother especially, since she had gone to Gibson for pastoral counseling.   More sinister threats of taking advantage of a younger sibling or of beatings began as he tried to keep me under his control.  Finally, it came down to telling me that if I spoke out and told anyone, I would disappear and never be found.  I would simply be erased and, after a short while, no one would give my absence a second thought.   I was only in my first year at the school and I would soon fade from the collective memory of those at the school.  It was clear that I was expendable.

I was completely terrorized by his words.  He knew it!  I could not believe that all of this was true, but at age 13 I had no way to know for sure that it was not the truth.  This he also knew and exploited.  What was true was that all of this seemed to be about power and control.  The fact that he got off on it seemed to be an extra benefit for him.

I’m sure he told my mother that he was acting as a mentor and offering opportunities for me to do interesting things on my own with a good male role model.  He exploited her as clearly as he had exploited me.  Much to my horror, she would allow him to take me on overnight trips, one lasting as long as a week.  He took me to the new rectory when it was completed.  It was  his own personal pedophile pleasure palace and masturbatorium.  He would talk about the rectory as a great personal accomplishment.  He took me  to New York “to see some plays” and to  Walt Disney World.  On a couple of occasions he took me off school grounds during the school day for “pastoral counseling”.  I went along, I was too frightened to put up a fight or tell someone what was happening to me.

I am curious about how long it took him to perfect this intimidation on other children.  Did this start before the seminary?  Was it something he slowly came to?  How soon after entering the seminary or being ordained did he identify his first victim?  How many victims did he have?  Did he focus on just boys or was he an equal opportunity abuser?  The Diocese of Scranton says that they had 4 reports including mine.  I think that the Diocese is so lacking in credibility that they cannot be believed. I don’t think I will ever have answers.  Those that know don’t have the stones to tell the truth.

I would like to think that I successfully broke away from his control at the beginning of my freshman year in high school  I have some doubts about that, though.  It is as likely that I was simply getting too old for his perverse tastes.  Sullen preteens turn into unmanageable, moody teenagers.   I grew over that summer and I was determined to get so active in the school that there would be no opportunity for Gibson to get me alone.  Hiding became less about being invisible and more about being out in front of the crowd, in plain site.  It made it harder for him to cut me from the herd and back under his grip.

I can only assume he moved on to someone else.  I lived with the ever present fear of him coming back for me, I would break into a cold sweat anytime he would show up at the school.  I was always off balance if I knew he was in the school building.  His presence at the school gradually became very infrequent.  I think he kept tabs on me to make sure I was not going to make trouble for him.  What was worse than the fear of him coming back for me was the guilt that comes with knowing that if he had moved on to a new target, I was responsible. I had not tried to stop him by turning him in or killing him.  Believe me, I wanted him dead in the most heinous way possible.  I agonized over that for decades. Any victim that came after me was my responsibility.   I am still haunted by it.  To date, the other victims of Gibson that I have spoken with came before me on his time line of preying on children.   I am afraid of the day when I talk to someone who was a victim of  Robert Gibson after the fall of 1974.  I don’t know how to ask for them to forgive me for not being stronger and turning the bastard in.  I don’t know that I could look them in the eye.   I could have done something, anything and they would have been spared the pain, betrayal and anguish.  Their lives would not have suffered a similar oblique as the one in my life at that point.

Intellectually I understand that this is not rational, that I was a child in a horrible situation that was out of my control.  That does not take away the guilt nor does it help me sleep at night.  Even 35 years later, I wake in the dead of the night sometimes and the thoughts are there as a reminder.  Sometimes it seems like it all happened yesterday.

My relationships with my parents and my siblings went downhill in 1974.  I became quiet and withdrawn at home.  I wanted nothing more than to wish away high school and get out of the Poconos.  College was to be my liberation.   All energy was focused to that end.  Those who knew my family probably thought this was all related to my father’s drinking.  This made sense, the truth however was much more sinister.  It was a good cover, so I used it.  It was easier to be the brooding son of an emotionally abusive alcoholic father than the sexual play thing of a pedophile priest.  Afterall,  I had been told, very convincingly, that no one would believe me and that the price to pay for telling the story would be higher than I could bear. I believed that for over three decades.   What a horrible price I have paid for keeping that secret!

First descent into hell

I knew something was wrong.  I was supposed to spend the night at the rectory.  The reason for the stay has long ago left my mind.  Instead of getting on the East Stroudsburg School District bus in front of Notre Dame that would take me to East Stroudsburg High School to allow me to transfer to the bus that would take me up state highway 402 to Hemlock Farms, I boarded the bus that would head to Brodheadsville.  Pleasant Valley School District emblazoned on the side of the bus.  It would drop me off at the Our Lady Queen of Peace Church.

Stepping off the bus, I walked across the street to church property. I approached the trailer and knocked, no answer. I went to the church but it was also locked. I looked for his car, it was not there. My initial thought was that he was detained somewhere so I would just wait. He would be back soon. I started doing my homework on the steps to the trailer. Time went by and it began getting dark. I was growing more concerned because I was not from this area. My home was 45 miles or so north of Brodheadsville. Did I have the right night? Was I supposed to be here? Where was he? Had he forgotten about me? My mother was going to be furious if she had to come all the way from Portage Lane to get me. I am sure I would pay for this all the way home and for weeks later. There was a pay phone across the street. I needed to make a call. Checking my pockets and book-bag revealed that I had no change. The 15 cent call was beyond my grasp. I dialed “0” for operator but it required the change to connect. I tried an emergency number, but you could only connect the call by having the coins slide into the coin slot. (it was 1974, and the phone technology was limited)  The phone was useless to me. It was getting darker and the only light I had was on the telephone pole. You know the kind of light fixture you see on rural roads near business or barns. Large, white and insulting to the darkness of a moonless Pennsylvania night. I was getting cold and very nervous about my situation.

Around 8:30 pm, about 5 hours after the bus dropped me off,  an older couple was driving by and saw me standing there looking agitated. They had seen me earlier but thought nothing of it. They stopped and asked me if I needed help. I told them that I was supposed to stay at the rectory and that I did not know where Father Gibson was.  They were parishioners of the church and knew Father Gibson.   They took me to their home and started making phone calls. Finally, near 9 o’clock, contact was made with Father Gibson. The gentleman who had picked me up wanted to call my parents and have them come get me. I did not want to call my mother because of the trouble it would bring. The woman decided to take me to the rectory. There was an animated conversation between the couple as she loaded me in the car for the 5 minute ride to the rectory.

When I arrived, Gibson seemed a little out of sorts. He had glazed eyes and was not really finishing his sentences. I knew this look. My father was an alcoholic. My mind began normalizing all that was happening. Reinforcing that all men of a certain age dove into a bottle at the end of the work day (or before their work day, during their work day or instead of their workday). I could handle it. I would just be quiet, go to bed and let him sleep it off. At least I was inside and had a small single bed in a tiny room in the trailer to hide in. I was relieved that I would not have to tell my mother anything about the events of the evening. He started by offering me a drink.  He had juice, soda and iced tea.  I opted for the juice.  I noticed that it tasted a little strange but thought nothing of it because it was not the brand my mother would buy.  I really wanted to go to bed but he was pretty insistent on talking about what had happened and watching TV.  He said he had loss track of time and how sorry he was.  He kept asking me to not tell anyone.  That was the first time he made that request.  There were many more to follow.  He offered me more juice.  I accepted.  I was starting to feel a little odd.  I rationalized that it was a rough night and that I was tired.  I finished the juice.   He was quick to refill the glass.  I really just wanted to go to bed.  I was suddenly very tired.  “Here, this will help you sleep” .  I drank about half the glass and then things went foggy. 

I woke up in the small room.  My clothes had been removed.  I was somewhat aware of my surroundings, but everything was a little out of sorts.  I could hear him walking around the trailer.  I heard him come into the room and I felt his weight on the bed as he began to rub my back.  I was not able to move and at first the contact was comforting.  I thought I just was coming down with a bug.  Slowly it dawned on me that he was also undressed. His hands ranged over me  and I knew that this was not what I wanted.  I could not move, I could not make any noise.  I could tell that there was something really wrong about all this.  He whispered to me that I would be better in the morning and that he would take care of me.  He rolled me over on my back and I could tell that he was erect.  I did not understand all of what was happening at that moment. He masturbated over me.  At some point I passed out again. 

The next morning I woke up in my underwear on the bed.  The sheets were different.  I showered, dressed and wondered what the hell had happened the night before.  Did I dream all of it?  He acted completely normal, offering to stop at the bakery on the way to the school.  As I left the trailer I noticed two empty bottles of Vodka on the kitchen counter.  I remember getting into his green car (I think it was an Oldsmobile).  He was very chatty, I was completely the opposite.  Did I imagine everything?  Looking back, to a naive 13 year old who had not discovered much about sex at that point, my memories far exceeded my knowledge of masturbation at the time. 

He pulled into the parking lot at school and wished me a good day.  As if nothing was out of the ordinary.  He told me to go in, he would follow in a few minutes, he had some papers to look over in his car.  I walked into school in a daze, I was completely off balance.   

That was the first descent into hell for me.  It would not be the last.  On that morning my innocence and my soul started to be destroyed.  Everything changed, nothing was ever going to be the same again.

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