The Grand Jury Report Has Been Released

The Pennsylvania Attorney General has released the report on a two-year grand jury investigation into widespread sexual abuse of children within six dioceses of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania and the systemic cover-up by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at The Vatican.

The following links are provided:

The Attorney General’s Press Release

A-Report-of-the-Fortieth-Statewide-Investigating-Grand-Jury_Cleland-Redactions-8-12-08_Redacted 

Exhibits from the Grand Jury Report

The Response by the Dioceses

Link to a Survivor’s Video

All of the above links are from the official website of the Pennsylvania Attorney General.

A quick glance at the report revealed that Robert J. Gibson is listed as one of the priests creditably accused, but his case is not part of the write up in the document.  I had a screening interview via telephone when this investigation began, but my situation was not part of the Grand Jury.

Now the Church will wait for this to blow over.  I don’t expect the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will do the right thing and allow Survivors to call the Diocese to account for their complicity.

 

 

 

The Answer to “What is it going to take?”

I am writing this from the low country of South Carolina.   A break needed to assess where I am and where I am going.   I am also working on a project that I will keep under wraps for the time being.  The first steps are proving to be very challenging.

After the post  from July where I asked the question “What is it going to take?” I did not hear crickets, but I also did not hear a lot of consensus.  Most of the comments were via email to this blog and, as a rule, I don’t publish the contents of email unless I have the permission of the correspondent.

I keep coming back to the same basic conclusion.  We, the community of survivors, don’t trust each other.  I am sure someone with a lot more education in psychology can explain all this.  In fact, I would love to hear the explanation.

What I have discovered is that there are divisions within the community that baffle me.  There seems to be a concern that someone’s abuse is more important, more devastating, more valid than another.

There is no criteria to determine who is a survivor and who is not.  There is no experience barometer to determine who had it “bad enough” to be in the “club”. I almost hesitate to say the word “community” anymore.  I really don’t think there is one.  There is no network, there is no organization because we cannot come to a definition of who can be considered a survivor.  And that serves the interests of the predators and the institutions that have protected them.

It is not a competition. It is a very destructive game of “I had it worse than you”.  Can’t we agree that is awful, devastating, damaging and life altering?   It is completely confusing to me that the people who should have the most empathy for survivors are other survivors.  And yet, that is where I find the most intensely judgmental collection of individuals who are often very vocal when anyone offers an opinion other contrary to the “norm”.

If this is the game, I don’t want to play anymore.   I have better things to do than sit around comparing stories of abuse and the levels of devastation caused by that abuse.   I will leave that sorting to someone else.

It is not all SNAP’s fault either.  We can wax poetic about how screwed up an organization, any organization may be.  We can waste our time affixing blame.  Or we can get organized, concentrate on the predators and the institutions that protect them and move forward.  At some point this has to stop being about individuals and it has to start being about something greater.

If we are to have that kind of community of survivors, we must not sit in judgement of each other, we must work together to change the environment that has allowed predators to target children and vulnerable adults.  If we cannot do that, we have already failed.

It seems that what it is going to take is empathy for each other. Once we have that we can start to be more organized and focused on changing the conditions that allow an environment for abuse and criminal conspiracies to protect predators to exist.

 

 

 

 

 

What is it going to take?

I wrote a blog post in February, 2013 titled “Is there a Survivors’ Community” in which I was looking for answers from survivors about our community, our way forward and who speaks for us.  In May,2013 I expressed my frustration in another post, “Crickets, Silence on the net…” that I did not hear from anyone in the survivor’s community.  According to the analytics I see on this blog, plenty of people read the original but no one offered their thoughts.

Here we are again and I am wondering why we can’t move forward.  I am wondering what the factors are in keeping us separated, unorganized and losing ground in efforts to change legislation and have society take the problem of sexual abuse and rape of children and vulnerable adults seriously.

A reporter contacted me a while back on a story concerning a priest accused of molesting a young boy.  He had already published the story but wanted my feedback.  He had used a quote from SNAP for the article, the same inane drivel that the National Director of that organization generically applies to any and all cases of abuse on which he is queried.  It made me wonder.

What is it going to take?  What would it take to get a coherent message from the survivor community to articulate the message that children and vulnerable adults are at risk from predators who enjoy a certain level of top cover from institutions who are more concerned with a risk management strategy than with the protection of those who need it most?  Is there a way that the message can be successfully crafted and articulated?  Can it be molded into a strategy that allows for the development of stronger laws to protect victims and enable the predators and their protectors to be held accountable both criminally and civilly?   Can we develop a voice that is institutionally agnostic and not narrowly focused on the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of American, Penn State or any other notorious institution with a history of child sexual crimes?

The other side of this argument is well-organized and well-funded.  Despite the fact that organizations like the Catholic League are notorious for spewing lies and portraying victims as predators or being responsible for the abuse inflicted upon them,  we have no credible organization, at the national level, that can present a coherent case for the need for change in legislation, education, institutional culture, and society in dealing with predators who prey on children.  We have no credible counters on Fox News to the Bill Donohues of the world.

We don’t need shrill fundraisers who only seem to hang around looking for the next donation to pay the salary or travel expenses for the next hit and run media opportunity. (It must be convention time again.) We need serious people who can step up and credibly do the work.  We need to actually network the survivors of child sexual abuse, their supporters, law enforcement, the criminal justice system and the legislatures in all the states to move in the direction of making the punishment so vile for crimes of this nature for both the predator and the institution that protects the predator that there is no where for the predator to find a safe haven.

As with many stories, the public eventually gets weary and loses interest.  That is what institutions like the Catholic Church want.  They want everything to blow over, go away, disappear.  The predators want that as well so that they may return to the business of grooming their next victim.  Perhaps it is time to find our national voice, our national strategy, our universal calling to actually effect a long-lasting change.  The shrill voices from Chicago and St. Louis have proven that they are not up to the task.   Who will step up?

Are you still out there?

 

Promoting Pedaphiles

According to an article in the Pocono Record on 14 March 2014, a priest who was credibly accused of molesting boys in Shohola (Pike County) and Moscow (Lackawanna County), Pennsylvania has been elevated to the post of Vicar General of Ciudad del Este Diocese in Paraguay.  Now a Monsignor, Carlos Urrutigoity will be in charge of investigations into claims of abuse or misconduct by priests in the diocese.   (Anyone else see this as the church taking a stand against the sexual misconduct by priests?)

Back in 2002 a lawsuit claimed that Urrutigoity and one of his henchmen, Father Eric Ensey had been “sleeping” with boys as part of their ministry.  Protected by the Diocese of Scranton Bishop James Timlin, the priests escaped prosecution by sending them for “psychological evaluation” in Canada.  The Diocese has a long-standing process where they send predator priests outside of the jurisdiction that could prosecute them. Timlin and his diocesan risk managers settled the lawsuit but did nothing else.

Now Monsignor Urrutigoity is operating in Paraguay and is in charge of protecting the people of his diocese from predator priests.  Despite Bishop Martino’s letter to the diocese in Paraguay, there really has not been anything done.   Had Bishops Timlin and Martino had the ability to discern right from wrong or even if one of them had a spine, they would have taken action in accordance with canon law and sought to have these and other predator priests that operated in the Diocese of Scranton defrocked and exposed.   But we all know that is not part of the risk calculus for the Catholic Hierarchy.

This crisis continues for three reasons.  First, bishops are still protecting the predators at the expense of the vulnerable.  Second, coward politicians who are under the cassocks of the bishops refuse to pass any meaningful legislation to hold the institutions that protect child rapists. Third, Catholic parishioners are not holding their hierarchy accountable.    I put the most blame on the last group.  For all the lip service from lay Catholics about the ongoing crisis, there is no real action to fix the problem and hold people accountable.

Catholics are not doing what they need to do to protect the innocent.   I am sure if their Saviour came back today, he would not want anything to do with these frauds.

 

 

 

FACSA President’s Recent Article in Notre Dame Magazine

I am providing this link  to John Salveson’s article in Notre Dame Magazine.   As President of  Foundation to Abolish Child Sexual Abuse (FACSA), Mr. Salveson is leading the charge to change laws to protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual predators and the institutions that have protected those predators.  His frustrations are very similar to frustrations that I and other survivors have experienced.

FACSA is an organization that is doing a lot of good, tangible work supporting survivors of child sexual abuse.  They are doing so without a lot of fanfare and self promotion.

I encourage you to read Mr Salveson’s article and then go to the FACSA website to support their efforts to protect children.

I want to thank everyone who sent this article to me, especially my Dad.

I am working on posting articles on this blog more regularly.  With furloughs ongoing at work, I am going to have more time to spend here.

Crickets, silence on the net…

“When one goes looking for something, one rarely finds it, but when you least expect it, the object of your search tends to fly up in front of you.”

This is  a hard topic to write about.  What happened all those years ago, the coverup by the church, the discord in the survivor community.  I find myself both drawn to writing and wanting to put all this down and walking away to something else, anything else.  I have had people recommend both courses of action, some more profane that others.

I wrote a piece not too long ago looking for the “Survivor Community”.  There was no response from the “community”.  I know someone is reading “Off My Knees”.  I see readership  numbers that mystify me everyday. I am even more perplexed when I have not had a post for a little while and the numbers start to climb into the hundreds per day.   Usually that is the indicator that something has stirred in the universe and another person in authority (priest, coach, teacher, cop, relative…)  has been identified as a molester/rapist of children or that a major piece of legislation has come to a head or that someone has died.  When I see random peaks in readership, I go to the analytics that I track for my blog looking for an explanation.

I do get emails from survivors or people close to a survivor looking for answers, advice or a conversation with someone who understands all too well what happened all those years ago.  I am very wary of requests for phone conversations and even more concerned about requests for face to face meetings.  I am also hesitant to offer advice, mostly because I still have more questions than answers.

The other night I was tracking activity in this blog that turn out to be  someone who was reposting a blog post I had written.  That is when the thought came to me.  As Survivors, we don’t trust each other.   Is it possible that what we have in common also alienates us from each other?  Our vulgar initiation into this universe of survivors makes us ever vigilant and doubtful of the motives of our correspondents.  We will read each other’s posts on blogs and message boards, but there is a hesitance to respond, to act, to come together.   For many, we have not really given up the great terrible secret that we have carried for so long.   We may be silently watching from the comfort of our own world.  Many are not engaged.  Many are not ready to be engaged.  Many are too tired of all of it to be engaged.

While we may have a great deal in common, we, as a group, do not really talk very much.  I kept quiet for well over 33 years.  All that silence keeps things from happening.  It keeps the well-organized people who protected the criminals who preyed on us strong.  It keeps them on the street, it keeps them from being called to account for their complicity.

Our silence also fails to shape the message of our community.  Silence is seen by consent by groups that are putting forward an agenda.  Those agendas are not always in our collective interest.  Within our community there are bitter divisions.  Some of the worst vitriol I have seen spewed at survivors has come from other survivors.  Discourse between us is not only discouraged, it is often attacked when the message does not support the “national position” .

We still need to find our collective voices, we still need to learn to network.   Most importantly, we must understand that, while there is a common thread, we all have very unique experiences that don’t always fit nicely into the general picture being painted of the community.   Just as I am amazed at the inability of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to tell the truth, I am amazed at the sometimes vicious tactics used between survivors.

Differences in points of view should be expected.   But the infighting and the polarization in the survivor community are doing nothing but helping the people/organizations/institutions who desperately want us to remain silent and subservient.

Justice4pakids-5k Run/Walk & 1 Mile Kid Run

Passed along from a friend in PA:

Justice4pakids-5k Run/Walk & 1 Mile Kid Run

On May 4th, 2013 8am come out and run or walk the beautiful Chester Valley Trail located near Exton, PA. Punch into your GPS 140 Church Farm Lane Exton, PA as this is our starting point! There is plenty of parking, public restrooms and a playground!

Register today at:

https://www.signup2raceusa.com/ccrs/justice4pakids/

The race is being managed by the Chester County Running Company .

The cause is for Justice4pakids,  a non-profit working for better laws in our state for sexually abused victims. We want to raise money to do more child safety awareness seminars that are free and open to the public. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18 and we want those numbers to change!

We have lots of great items for every child who participates such as free bowling passes, free cones from Dairy Queen, coupons for Rita’s Water Ice, free passes for Bounce U and each child gets a medal! The prize wheel will raffle off a Wegman’s gift card, 6 passes for QVC Studio behind the scenes tour, one free day of doggie care at Wagsworth Manor and much more.  People are sending in prizes every day!

Every runner gets a T-shirt. The race is a timed event and winners in age categories will be presented with a medal!

Free pizza and refreshments from Seasons Pizza for all!

Please sign up online or email info@justice4pakids.com if you have questions!