Diocese releases more information on the ISCP

If you are a survivor in the Diocese of Scranton, you will need to look at the Diocese website for the Independent Survivor’s Compensation Program.  The link is at the end of the news release and is not part of the main Diocesan site.   The Bishop also released a video. There is not a lot of substance there, just a rehash of points in the letter mailed to survivors by the Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) (I should check that envelope to see if that was a bulk mailing).  It is replete with politically correct attempts at “empathy” for victims within the Diocese that should appease the most ardent of the Bishop’s apologists supporters.

I strongly recommend that you get legal advice from someone not associated with the Diocese of Scranton.  If you have not come forward with a report of your abuse yet, you should go to the police, district attorney for your jurisdiction or the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office and make your statement to civil authorities.

Some vital information on who may file a claim from the FAQ Sheet for the program:

The persons eligible to participate in this Program are: a) individuals who allege they were sexually abused as a minor by clergy (whether incardinated within the Diocese of Scranton or a member of a religious order serving within the Diocese of Scranton), lay teachers or employees associated with the Diocese of Scranton, or b) the Legal Representative (as defined below) of those Claimants. The following additional criteria apply:
• For new allegations first reported after November 8, 2018, the Claimant must first report the allegation of abuse in writing (with a copy submitted to the Administrators) to the appropriate District Attorney’s Office in order to participate in this Program. A finding of criminal liability by the District Attorney is not required for participating in this Program. All new allegations of abusereceived through this Program will also be reported to the appropriate District Attorney by the Diocese as required by law and Diocesan policy.
• The Claimant must not have previously entered into a settlement agreement resolving the same claim of clergy sexual abuse against the Diocese and/or a member of clergy.
• The Claimant must not have previously litigated his/her claims to resolution against the Diocese or any related entities. However, a Claimant whose claims were dismissed or resolved solely on the grounds that they were barred by the Pennsylvania statute of limitations and no other basis, remains eligible to participate in the Program.
From the Diocese FAQ Sheet

The letter I received from the VAC last week indicated that more details would be forthcoming from the administrators of the ISCP.  As of this writing, I have not received that package yet.   I will provide updates when it does arrive.

Everyone needs to assess their situation and make decisions that are right for themselves and their families.  Only you can decide how you are going to proceed.

I am providing links to the Claim Form, Protocol, and Fact sheets in a .pdf format.  These documents are from the package received from the administrators managing this process.

iscp claim form

iscp protocol

iscp fact sheet

 

 

 

 

A letter from the VAC at the Diocese of Scranton: Independent Survivor Compensation Program

Author’s note: This is my second attempt at this post. I have tempered my approach, but my outrage has not abated.

A half-truth is even more dangerous than a lie. A lie, you can detect at some stage, but half a truth is sure to mislead you for long.”
Anurag Shourie

I have had two restless nights since the letter arrived in my mailbox. My blood runs a little cold when I see the Diocese of Scranton address in the top left corner of an envelope. This missive was from the Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) for the Diocese announcing the Independent Survivor Compensation Program (ISCP). I will let you read my letter. I have redacted my contact information. I have enough virulent church apologists blowing up my email, I will not enable them to contact me at my home.

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I have had some responses from others I have shared this letter with, other members of Robert Gibson’s “Lost Boys.” It seems, without my prompting, they are equally outraged by the message and tone.

I am sure Mary Beth Pacuska, the VAC, was very proud of her work. But then again, she is charged with taking information on victims and aiding the bishop in turning that information into a plan of action to silence, discredit and demean survivors who have dared to stand up to the prelate on Wyoming Avenue. I would recommend a title change that allows you to keep your “VAC” acronym. From this side of the conversation, “Victims Adversary Coordinator” sounds more apropos. Let me know Mary Beth, I am dying to get your opinion (sarcasm intended).

Shall we go through the letter? She starts to auger into the earth with her first paragraph of introduction. “I am privileged to work with victims of sexual abuse suffered as a minor.” You have got to be kidding me!? “Privileged?” From my point of view, it would have been my great privilege to never have had a cause to contact that office in the first place. Work with us? That is laughable. Although I initially spoke with Joan Holmes when she occupied that chair in 2007, it is my experience that the office of the VAC is there to protect the bishop and his minions. Interest in the well being of the victim/survivor has proven to be nothing more than a diocesan sham.

The next two paragraphs of the communication are propaganda. Propaganda wasted on an audience that sees through the fiction of Diocesan action touted because they have suffered not only the original crimes committed against them but through the mishandling, bungling and straight up attacks by the diocese. Spare us the bullshit Ms. Pacuska, we are not buying it, and you look all the more of a diocesan pawn for it.

Finally, in the fourth paragraph, she gets to the point of the epistle. Finally! She announces the ISCP, provides no details at all about the program and punts the problem to the administrators of the Diocesan fund intended to placate survivors like me. The best part of all of this is the nugget in the second to last paragraph of this pathetic piece of prose. “Please be assured that this program is independent of the Diocese, completely voluntary and confidential, and will be handled with respect and in a pastoral manner.” The program is not independent of the Diocese because the diocese is funding it. (Maybe I should say that the parishioners of the Diocese of Scranton are financing it. That is much more accurate.) The Diocese, knowing the true scope of the problem and the estimated number of survivors/victims they have covered up for decades, is trying to get off on the cheap.

The program is “completely voluntary and confidential.” Sure it is! What I read here is a requirement for a confidentiality agreement. Or, more simply put, no transparency or accountability for the actions of bishops or priests who actively covered the sex crimes committed against children. She says the program will be handled with “respect and in a pastoral manner?” Personally, I don’t think the Chancery for the Diocese of Scranton knows the meaning of the word “respect.” Pastoral manner, that thought is ridiculous! If the lies and deceit offered to me by this diocese since I reported what Robert Gibson to me when I was 13 years old at Notre Dame Jr/Sr High School in East Stroudsburg reveals the measure of their “pastoral manner” I am better off without it.  If you wish to know what I want, click this link, I have spelled it out for you.

I have a recommendation for the VAC. Mary Beth, are you listening? Just tell us the facts devoid of all the propaganda and flowery support. Save the half-truths and platitudes for your parishioners. They are still swallowing what you and your bishop are offering.

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…”