Summer Required Reading – 5th Installment


Warning: The following is extremely explicit and is not suitable for those under 18. The editors of C4C think this information is critical to understanding the crisis in our diocese. As sickening as the sexual details are, we want to stress the Archdiocesan coverup and transfer of criminal priests is the most heinous element. We also believe it is important for other parents to understand the pathology of the crimes that could occur in any setting.

We applaud Billy on his brave testimony and our prayers and support go out to him. We hope he finds some justice with the upcoming trial and his civil case.

Excerpt from the 2011 Grand Jury Report on Clergy Sex Abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese:

Section II – The Sexual Abuse of Billy

This Grand Jury investigation began with the tearful testimony of “Billy.” Billy was a 10-year-old student in Barbara Mosakowski’s fifth-grade class at St. Jerome School in Philadelphia when two priests molested and orally sodomized him during the 1998-99 school year. Billy had signed up to be an altar boy at St. Jerome Church because his brother, who was three years older, had been one. He also participated in the “maintenance department” of the school’s bell choir, meaning that he took the bells out of their cases before choir practice and put them away at the end.

Rev. Charles Engelhardt abused Billy in the church sacristy after Mass.

Billy’s first uncomfortable encounter with a priest took place after he served an early morning weekday Mass with Rev. Charles Engelhardt. While Billy was cleaning up in the church sacristy, Father Engelhardt caught him drinking some of the leftover wine. The priest did not scold the 10-year-old altar boy. Instead, he poured him more of the sacramental wine and began asking him personal questions, such as whether he had a girlfriend.

While discussing such matters, Father Engelhardt pulled pornographic magazines out of a bag and showed them to Billy. He asked the boy how it made him feel to look at pictures of naked men and women, and which he preferred. He also told Billy that it was time for him to become a man, and that “sessions” with the priest would soon begin. With that enigmatic statement, Father Engelhardt let Billy go to school. At the time, the fifth-grader did not understand what the priest meant; he just put the episode in the back of his mind, and went about what he was doing.

About a week later, Billy served another early morning Mass with Father Engelhardt. When they were in the church sacristy afterwards, the priest instructed Billy to take off his clothes and sit on a chair next to him. As the boy nervously complied, Father Engelhardt undressed himself, and then began to caress the 10-year-old’s legs. He repeated to Billy that it was time for him “to become a man,” and proceeded, in Billy’s words, both “to jerk [Billy] off” and to perform oral sex on him.

At Father Engelhardt’s direction, Billy next fondled the priest’s genitals, and then got on his knees and put the priest’s penis in his mouth. Father Engelhardt called Billy “son,” and told him he was doing a good job as he instructed the boy to move his head faster or slower. After ejaculating on Billy, Father Engelhardt told him he was “dismissed.”

About two weeks later, Father Engelhardt asked him if he was ready for another session, but Billy emphatically refused.

Rev. Edward V. Avery learned that Father Engelhardt had abused Billy, and then did the same thing.

Father Engelhardt left Billy alone after his unsuccessful attempt to arrange a repeat “session,” but the boy’s ordeal was far from over. A few months after the encounter with Father Engelhardt, Billy was putting the bells away after choir practice when Father Edward Avery pulled him aside to say that he had heard about Father Engelhardt’s session with Billy, and that his sessions with the boy would soon begin. Billy pretended he did not know what Father Avery was talking about, but his stomach turned.

Soon after the warning, Billy served a Mass with Father Avery. When Mass was ended, Father Avery took the fifth-grader into the sacristy, turned on music, and ordered him to perform a “striptease” for him. Billy started to undress in a normal fashion, but Father Avery was not satisfied and directed him to dance while he removed his clothes.

Father Avery sat and watched Billy with an “eerie smile” on his face, before getting up and undressing himself. When they were both naked, the priest had the boy sit on his lap and kissed his neck and back, while saying to him that God loved him and everything was okay.

Father Avery fondled Billy’s penis and scrotum, and then had Billy stand so that he could perform oral sex on the boy. As the priest fellated the 10-year-old, he stuck his finger in Billy’s anus, causing him to react in great pain.

After sucking on Billy’s penis for a while, Father Avery announced that it was time for Billy to “do” him. He directed the 10-year-old to fondle his genitals and then put the priest’s penis in his mouth and suck on his scrotum. The session ended when Father Avery ejaculated on Billy and told him to clean up. The priest told Billy that it had been a good session, and that they would have another again soon.

They did, a few weeks later, following an afternoon weekend Mass. As Billy was cleaning a chalice, Father Avery again directed the 10-year-old to strip for him. When Billy did as he was told, the priest fondled and fellated him again and, this time, licked his anus. He made Billy “jerk him off” as he performed oral sex on the boy. After Father Avery ejaculated, he left Billy in the sacristy.

From then on, Billy avoided serving Mass with Father Avery by trading assignments with other altar boys. But, like many children who are sexually abused, he was too frightened and filled with self-blame to report what had been done to him.

Sixth-grade teacher Bernard Shero raped Billy in the back seat of a car.

Billy had a slight break over the summer between fifth and sixth grades. He went to the New Jersey Shore with his family and, for that period, did not have to serve Mass with Father Engelhardt or Father Avery. But when he returned to school in the fall, he found himself in the sixth-grade classroom of Bernard Shero. Shero, according to Billy, was “kind of a creep.” He touched students when he talked to them, and would put his arm around students and whisper in their ears. Billy testified that Shero’s conversations with students were inappropriate, and that he would try to talk to Billy about intimate things.

One day, Shero told Billy he would give him a ride home from school. But instead of taking Billy straight home, he stopped at a park about a mile from the boy’s house. When Billy asked why they were stopping, Shero answered, “We’re going to have some fun.” The teacher told Billy to get in the back seat of the car. He directed his student to take his clothes off, but then became impatient and started helping Billy to undress. Shero then fondled Billy’s genitals and orally and anally raped the now 11-year- old boy. Shero was only able to get his penis part-way into Billy’s anus because the boy screamed in pain. The teacher then had Billy perform the same acts on him. As Billy did so, Shero kept saying, “It feels good.”

After raping Billy, Shero told him to get dressed. He then made the fifth-grader walk the rest of the way home.

Billy suffered physical and emotional harm as a result of the abuse.

Although Billy was too frightened to directly report the abuse as a child, he experienced otherwise unexplained physical problems that corroborated his testimony before the Grand Jury. In the fifth grade, when Fathers Engelhardt and Avery were having their “sessions” with him, Billy complained to his mother of pain in his testicles. In the sixth grade, when Shero raped and orally sodomized him, he went through an extended period when he would gag and vomit for no reason. His mother took him to doctors for both conditions, but there was never a diagnosis. Billy’s mother turned over to the Grand Jurors her records of her visits to doctors with Billy.

Billy’s mother also told us of a dramatic change in her son’s personality that coincided with the abuse. His friends and their parents also noticed this personality change. Billy’s mother watched as her friendly, happy, sociable son turned into a lonely, sullen boy. He no longer played sports or socialized with his friends. He separated himself, and began to smoke marijuana at age 11. By the time Billy was in high school, he was abusing prescription painkillers, and eventually he graduated to heroin.

It was at an inpatient drug treatment facility that Billy first told someone about his abuse. Billy’s mother testified that she probably should have suspected something before then, because she found two books about sexual abuse hidden under Billy’s bed when he was in high school. She asked him about the books at the time, but he covered up for his abusers by telling her that he had them for a school assignment.

The Philadelphia Archdiocese had assigned Father Avery to St. Jerome even though Msgr. William Lynn, Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, and other high-ranking officials knew he had abused another boy and could not be trusted around adolescents.

In at least one instance, the blame for the abuse Billy suffered did not lie with the perpetrators alone. The Secretary for Clergy, Monsignor William Lynn,1 who is now the pastor at St. Joseph Church in Downingtown, had recommended Father Avery for assignment to a parish with a school. He then failed to supervise or restrict his contact with adolescents in any way. Msgr. Lynn did this even though he knew that Father Avery had sexually abused another boy and could not be trusted around children.

While we cannot know Msgr. Lynn’s motivation for this abhorrent decision to allow a known child molester unfettered access to children whose parents had entrusted them to the Archdiocese’s care, we know that it gravely endangered the welfare of the parish children – a danger that was tragically realized in Billy’s case.

to be continued….

or read more here.

 

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44 Responses to “Summer Required Reading – 5th Installment”

  1. Victims4Justice.org Reply August 22, 2011 at 7:31 am

    “Warning: The following is extremely explicit and is not suitable for those under 18. The editors of C4C think this information is critical to understanding the crisis in our diocese. As sickening as the sexual details are, we want to stress the Archdiocesan cover-up and transfer of criminal priests is the most heinous element. We also believe it is important for other parents to understand the pathology of the crimes that could occur in any setting.”

    I actually believe, that while this content may be inappropriate for kids under 18, it’s absolutely necessary that they read this. Had I known, while I was being abused that there were others like me and the abuse wasn’t my fault, and I was groomed and coerced by a sick and demented creep of a priest, hell maybe I could’ve spoken up sooner!

    I watched this movie called “Trust,” the other night. It was about a 13 year-old girl who was communicating with a boy, she thought was 15, on the internet. Over a period of a couple of months, the “boy” convinced her to meet with him in a mall. When she found out that the boy was actually a 35+ year-old man, he creepily convinced her that their relationship as friends should be okay. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… why do I do this to myself?) But as the movie wore on I could see the grooming process right in front of my eyes. Hollywood doesn’t often portray sex abuse the way I think it really effects a person, but I really felt like they got a lot of this movie right. Eventually and sadly, the man raped the young girl and the rest of the movie deals with the after effects of a child being sexually abused, how that child deals with it, and how the family is also effected by it. (The ending is really frustrating, but I’ll save the details for those who might want to watch it.)

    I think every person with a child, who has a computer and a cell phone should watch this movie. I think every parent should read the Grand Jury Report. If it were up to me, it would be stapled onto classroom doors, and warnings about signs of abuse and abusers would be required reading before any video game or computer game is to be played! I think it’s time to stop protecting children from the realities of the evil that exist in the world and start teaching them about how the world really is, and I’m not talking about “good touch, bad touch.” I’m talking about the garbage that people read here and reply, “It really turns my stomach and makes me shake reading it.” Just think about how we felt when we were kids and it was happening to us! That’s the real stuff. That’s what kids need to know about. Kids need to know the raw truth about it, because so far the “appropriate parent-to-child talk” doesn’t seem to be working.

    • I appreciate and understand every word you shared.

      There’s a unique balance to what parents need to prepare children for and what we need to protect children from…it’s daunting and I wish I knew exactly where that balance might be.

      My husband and I have talked at length about what to tell our children and when. It’s strange…because, statistically, our children WON’T be abused…but they are the children of 2 survivors…one of clergy, one of a relative…so we see “it.” We see the effects because we’re living it, we consciously and unconsciously parent from that place too. Awareness, boundaries, etc. are open topics in our home. That said, I don’t want my children to live with a shadow of fear or always waiting for the other shoe to drop…constantly wondering if someone is “out to get them.” Yes, it’s my reality, yes, it’s my husband’s reality…but it doesn’t have to be my children’s reality.
      When people talk about the “effects” of abuse on the victim and the family…it’s so far-reaching…and this is a tiny, tiny example.

    • You know some people tell me I am too frank with my kids but I know from 1st hand experience what skilled liars and manipulators these pedophiles are and it scares the h-ll out of me. So many adults believe they are good people or sorry now and “will not do it again” and because it “happened so long ago want to give them another chance” So I am glad to hear what you have to say. Many times i think my husband had no chance in hell to be up against his abuser……….its sad…if I was in the same situation I think I would have lost my mind but then this explains how coping mechanisms come in to protect the child’s ego from a sitatuation they can’t get away from and then the coping mechanism that worked for them as a child no longer work for them as adults and pretty much destroys every attempt at intimacy there after either sexaul or emotional. Yes I am all for telling the kids what they need to hear to protect themselves because sometimes the adults around them dont so they have to keep telling anyone who will listen til they finally get one too.

  2. Though it is horrifying, it is necessary to read the details of the abuse and pain the victims have endured. By not reading the details, we can allow ourselves to continue to be ignorant, and pretend that nothing needs to change. When someone reads a victims story, I don’t see how they don’t think things need to change. Billy is an example of one of those brave people. We need to remember the countless others, that don’t feel like they can open up and share thier ordeal,those number are probably staggering.

    This is why it is insulting when clergy, principals of schools, etc. claim to have not read the GJ reports. They want to remain blessedly ignorant. People generally don’t like honesty. It’s hard to take. They also don’t like people who share the truth. They feel that those who share the truth, become the problem.

    I gave as many details about the GJ reports and some of the abuse stories I know of, to my kids. First, because I wanted them to know the depth of what is going on, and just how horrible it is. Secondly, I wanted them to understand why I am so angry, and conflicted. Additionally, they had been told not to believe everything they heard and read about the abuse scandle, from thier Catholic school (where Lynn is pastor) . Which, generally, is good advise. But as their parent, I wanted to also share with them, how hard it is for people to speak up (all the ‘Billy’s’out there). I wanted them to understand that Grand Jury investigations don’t happen for no reason. Sadly, this isn’t about lies. I saw one comment that said the person felt they have read enough about abuse, and thought it abusive to print the details. To which I say, don’t shoot the messenger. Isn’t the fact that it happened at all the issue, and no less, to a child? Unless the abuse has happened to you, how do you have the right to say you’ve had enough? It’s been going on far too long, and has happened to far too many innocent kids. God bless the victims and thier families. Thier abuse permiates every corner of their life.

    • Deidre, I agree. I am constantly amazed at the amount of local Catholics – laity and clergy who have never read the Grand Jury reports. I read so many comments posted on line articles from catholics who have never taken the time to inform themselves.They claim the GJ reports are a bunch of victims making up stories and have no idea the amount of info in the reports collected from the AD itself, from all of the information collected over the year from victims and fellow clergy, alerting them to the problems of the abusive priests. To see how the AD knew for years about the history of abusive priests and continually put them with access to more children/more victims. In Philadelphia we have two Grand Jury reports and the recently released testimony from Bevilaqua, much more info detailing the abuse then available to Catholics in other Dioceses.
      So why don’t more local Catholics take advantage of the copious amount of info available to them? Because it is easier,because the truth hurts and once you read the accounts you will never be the same again. See no evil,hear no evil…..

      • So why don’t more local Catholics take advantage of the copious amount of info available to them? Because it is easier,because the truth hurts and once you read the accounts you will never be the same again.

        I believe it’s because they will have to change. It’s easier to stay in the bubble and deny…pointing a finger at the victims, families and supporters as the “trouble-makers,” than it is to admit they sat there and watched their hierarchy abuse. They’d have to ADMIT they allowed it by their complacency and silence. Who wants to admit they had a part in all of this mess? They have to say, “Not my priest, not my bishop”…because the next line has to be, “Not me.” You either own what you do…or you deny it.

  3. I could throw up. Every time I read one of these stories, I get angrier at the remaining Catholics who turn their heads away from these children.

  4. Amen to all in here who are in agreement. Yes, I did say I was shaking as I read the GJ report, shaking and crying and angry, so I cannot ever imagine how the victims felt. I read this report because it needs to be read…. I was a victim of another kind of abuse growing up, but nothing, absolutely nothing can compare with the trauma and shame and horror of what victims of clergy sexual abuse endured. When catholics complain about the financial amounts paid out to these victims, I say no amount of money will ever compensate what was stolen from them. They were raped of their very souls. So, to all people who think they cannot read this report, keep your head in the sand, because if it ever happens to a child you know, you won’t believe them, because it will be too unpleasant.

  5. I don’t think children should be unaware…but this is an adult problem. Adults perpetrate, adults deny, adults parenting children, adults who don’t believe, adults who support the church, adults who can pass laws, adults who vote, adults who financially support institutions…and yet, we put a lot of responsibility onto children…like it’s their “responsibility” to tell and keep themselves safe. How? Because they “know” the realities? Even the most “empowered” children have been abused…

    I just don’t want us to think that as long as we make our children “aware,” they will somehow be safe and protected and “know better.” That’s simply not true. Our children will be safe when the adults surrounding them make it so.

    • Absolutely survivor’s wife,as much as we teach and inform our children it is our responsibility as adults to make their surroundings as safe as possible.
      The one thing I have told both of my children is that my husband and I are the ultimate authority when it comes to their safety. When you are a kid there are so many times you are under the authority of another adult in many situations – a teacher,coach,a friend’s parent. Kids are taught to respect authority which makes sense but I have explained at length to my kids that they have my permission to leave any situation if something even feels uncomfortable – a classroom,a meeting,sporting event,sleepover. I have told them to remove themselves and call me on their cell phone and I will come and get them – anytime,any situation. Obviously this isn’t fool proof, but I want them to at least know that they have my permission to leave a situation,no matter what a teacher,coach,clergy member would say otherwise. The parent trumps all and my kids do at least know that.

    • I agree kids cant do everything. The one problem is unless we are told by the children they are being abused it is very hard for us to stop it unless we see symptoms of abuse. Open communication and awareness is important.Breaking the silence can help stop the abuse but many other changes are needed like laws etc thats true. I just have heard so many stories of kids telling their families and the families dont believe them so they need to tell other trusted adults.I never put blame or resonsiblity on the child for what happened.

    • By its very definition child abuse is abuse because it is an imbalance and abuse of power. Thats why we need laws and safety nets in place to protect kids.

  6. Msgr Lynn will most likely plead guilty in order to avoid this question from the prosecutor ‘ What did the cardinal say when you told him the two priests and teacher passed around an 11year old for sex?’
    This question and answer should be and will be on the front page and TV. Maybe then the pew Catholics who are deaf dumb and blind will have to confront the governance of the Faith. .

    • He will just lie to the prosecutor.

      It’s actually a part of “canon law” that priests and bishops can lie to avoid scandal in the church. God gave us a commandment that says “Do not lie”, but canon law allows the church hierarchy to lie to avoid getting in trouble. Canon law allows the church to make rules for situations God wasn’t smart enough to deal with.

  7. Kathy, I especially felt I had a responsibility to discuss a lot of the details (particularly with my oldest child) because she was being told that that was she was hearing about her pastor was lies, and made up by Catholic hating media. Plus, it made her feel wrong in what she was feeling about the situation. And there is no excuse for that. None of those kids, no matter what they felt, should have been singled out for anything. They did nothing to bring this on. Sound familiar though, right?

    I know I’ve posted that before. But it still amazes me that no one thought…in addition to kids having their pastor arrested (and there were those that disputed that reality as well)…..that telling them that the media and the world at large is full of Catholic haters that would make up stories….wasn’t also damaging? I continue to be told by some that Lynn did nothing wrong. The voice of our principal, telling me HE is a VICTIM, still rings in my ears.

    But I guess if you don’t read the stories, you can continue to deceive yourself. It is easier than what my family has dealt with as a result of our feelings. But, that would be wrong.

    Survivors wife, I understand what you are saying. But I guess I feel like the more information we give our kids, the more they know, and the more they feel like they can talk to us about uncomfortable topics, if…God forbid….something scarey or inappropriate was done are attempted to be done to them, the better off they will be. I think as a mother of girls, personal safety has always been one of my biggest fears. I think woman in general share that fear, probably since it was drilled in us to be safe at all times, be aware of our surroundings, don’t leave a friend, now we add inappropriate relationships with adults, even clergy.

    • I want to be clear…

      I do not think we should keep children out of the loop of what is happening around them. I think they should be informed, uncomfortable topics need to be discussed, etc.

      I’m saying that what we share and how we share with our children about abuse needs to be considered from many angles…this is their childhood, not ours…their feelings, not ours…it’s their spiritual life, not ours.

      I guess I see a trend with parents that think since they’ve “informed” their children…or now that their children “know,” they are somehow safeguarded or empowered to make the right decision. THat isn’t the case….pedophiles abuse even the most empowered, knowledgeable children. Just because parents have talked to their children about the unapproachable topics doesn’t guarantee their children will talk to them if something happened to them.

      I see the topics we share with our children as a “piece” to a very large puzzle. A small piece.

  8. Deidre,

    I re-read what I wrote…I don’t mean anything I’ve shared to be conflictual. It sounds differently in my head than how it reads. I’m thinking out loud on this topic…and I clearly do not know what should or shouldn’t be shared with anyone’s child about what is happening with this issue.

    But, I would be re-miss if I didn’t share my perspective on this, since my husband and I have had to deal with all of this in an upfront and very personal way.

    • Survivor’s Wife,I think considering all that you have been through your comments show remarkable restraint and consideration. I would never be so insulting to say that I understand what you and your husband have gone through,but your comments along with some of the other victims have helped me very much over the past few months to gain an understanding of your journey. I am sorry for the abuse your husband suffered by a clergy member,the treatment you recieved by the Diocesan officials and the apathy of the laity.
      When I used to read online comments posted by people referring to victims as liars,gold diggers etc… I would roll my eyes that people could be so callous and uninformed but since you and other victims and family members have shared your stories,when I read those type of comments now,I feel like I have been punched in the stomach. I think of all the victims I have spoken to and imagine them reading such comments. So thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions on the site, we value your input very much.

  9. to survivors wife, (aside from the actual content) I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes when I am typing it sounds correct, but when I read it back after the post is on, I think uh-oh, I hope someone doesn’t read this the wrong way 🙂 We’ll all just human, but it’s so good to know we all feel the same way about this issue.. I read all your posts with empathy and you (and v4j) add so much understanding to those of us who have not gone through such horror.

  10. I agree with Kathy, Survivors Wife. I appreciate everyone’s opinions here. I understand what you are saying. And you would know. You, sadly, have more experience with this than I do. And I am truely sorry for that. The grace and contraint of your comments here are to be commended.

    I hope I am not thinking I’ve covered all my bases by being a straight forward, no nonsense talker to my kids. As a matter of fact, I’m quite sure they don’t appreciate it! They want what most other kids want, to just go along, don’t make waves, don’t stand out, have thier parents blend in.

    But this issue has inflamed me so much, because of people like yourself, and the stories of those like Billy, and the fact that I chose to raise my children in this faith, and educate them in the Catholic school system. I feel it’s my responsibility to be open to the pain that this institution has caused others. Thank you for sharing your insight, and helping to educate us all.

  11. Thank you. I appreciate this forum for discussion and I learn so much every time I come here.

    It’s good for me to read that Catholic laity care.

    What’s that phrase? Spot it…you got it. Meaning, if I see something in someone else I do not like, it’s likely that I too am doing the same (maybe in a different area)…it’s why we can identify it. So, when I make sweeping generalizations about the laity not caring…but then anger rises up when many judge all victims and their families as gold-diggers, church haters…(sweeping generalization and inaccurate) …essentially, I’m doing the same thing I dislike about others when I judge the laity. My husband repeatedly says, “If you don’t heal, you become what you hate…if you do heal, you’ll love what you become.” I don’t want to become the people who have hurt our family.

    Coming here reminds me there are good people in the church…which means there’s hope for children to be safer. A big thank you for anyone who has the courage to share in this forum.

    • That brought tears to my eyes healing takes such a longtime and is so more involved then I could have ever imagined. It has been very painful for my husband and I and I had so much hate for his abuser and enabler……..I was turning into what I hated and did not even recoginize it and I am not even a victim. Abusers don’t just rob the innocent victims but their future spouses and partners. We have come so far and the pain has made us much more compassionate towards others but we had to get over the anger first……or should I say rage……outrage not just that this would happen but to someone you love so dearly.

  12. Victims4Justice.org Reply August 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I don’t have kids and maybe that’s a good thing, because I’m already extremely hyper-vigilant when I’m responsible for my nephews and other people’s kids. I freak out if my 6 year-old nephew is on the enclosed porch by himself, less than 20 feet away from my partner or I. I guess you could say that I am very melodramatic with how I view the world today and how common or uncommon it is that a kid can be abused. I understand that the majority of kids will not be abused, but trying to convince myself that every kid is not in danger is not an easy task to accomplish. I am very suspicious and distrusting of people in general, and I guess that’s because of what happened in my life. All I have to show for my paranoia is my experiences, having looked upon two men as father-figures when I was a child, only for both to sexually abuse me. My knowledge of adults at that time was very skewed because I thought that all these twisted things that were occurring was relatively normal. Can you believe that? I thought that having sex with adult men when I was 7-14 years-old was “normal.” But that’s how it is for many of us, as I would only learn as an adult, that the reality of abuse seems to be very normal for abuse victims. Strangely enough, I wondered if every kid was dealing with the same thing I was.

    Now I know that that kind of warped thinking could only be attributed to the immaturity and innocence of a child. Abusers are good at what they do and they are very intelligent people. They use their intellect to groom and manipulate children until we don’t even know the difference between what is right and what is wrong. It took twenty years for me to figure out that that sort of behavior was not normal and the men who did it are the guilty ones, not me. Hell, I still have problems convincing myself that I have no guilt or shame in the matter, but that’s just another part of the ongoing battle I fight within myself everyday to heal.

    I write about people being brutally honest with their children, but really it’s something I wish was a part of my life when I was a kid. I wish somebody was there to guide me and teach me about things, and to show me something other than the painful and confusing experience with men, who seemed to only show me love because they wanted to do something sexual with me. By the time I was 15, I was set in my mind that I would never again trust another person. I equated friendship with betrayal, intimacy with physical pain and emotional confusion, and blind trust with no trust at all.

  13. Michael Skiendzielewski Reply August 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    FROM THE GRAND JURY REPORT 2011, pgs. 84-85:

    Yet, unbeknownst to the victims, all of the supposedly confidential information
    that they provide to the victim assistance coordinators is passed on to the Archdiocese’s
    law firm, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young. Stradley lawyers, in turn, pass on reports of
    abuse allegations to law enforcement. But while the letters from the lawyers to civil
    authorities include only the most basic information – the names and contact information
    for the victims and the perpetrators, and the dates and locations of the alleged abuses –
    the lawyers receive all of the detailed information that the victim assistance coordinators
    have gathered from the victims.
    Observing the victim assistance process in Billy’s and Mark’s cases, it was hard
    to tell who is not given access to victims’ information. E-mails announcing the abuse report are copied to several different Archdiocese employees. The victims’ school records
    are routinely requested from their schools. Pastors are asked about the victims and their
    families. The abuser is informed of the accusation. In Mark’s case, an investigator from
    the Archdiocese questioned friends, family, other priests, and parish workers.

    Victims arediscussed regularly at bi-weekly, or monthly, meetings that include not only the victim assistance staff, but Ms. Becker, the Vicar for Clergy, in-house attorney Timothy Coyne, and William Sasso, the chairman of Stradley Ronon.

    THIS CITATION SPEAKS FOR ITSELF; LAWYERS REPRESENTING THE ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA MUST ACT AND ADVISE IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THEIR CLIENT (and this advice is contrary to the safety and protection of our children).

  14. Victims4Justice.org Reply August 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Earthquake!

  15. I felt it too 🙂

  16. Michael Skiendzielewski Reply August 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Doesn’t matter whether or not we felt it…………….we need an earthquake for that crew down there at 222 N. 17th St.!

  17. I think it will take more than an earthquake to move them. Christ himself could appear and they would still lie and cover up the church’s sexual abuse issue.

  18. Victims4Justice.org Reply August 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    In the Grand Jury Report, “Billy gagged and vomited for no reason at all and his mother took him to doctors for both conditions but there was never a diagnoses.”

    Oh how this sounds so familiar to me. When I was in 10 grade. After leaving the abuse and going to another high school, I would often collapse in gym class and be overcome with heavy breathing, flashbacks, nausea, the shakes, and extreme sweating. Finally my gym teachers and the new school I was attending became fed up with having to deal with me freaking out all the time and they sent me home with a message to my parents, “that I was not allowed to come back to school until a doctor had cleared me.” I was dealing with heart palpitations and chest pains, and I know that the teachers and school administration thought I had a heart condition. What I know now is that those “episodes” were actually panic attacks.

    My mom took me to doctors and specialists and I can remember having to wear some kind of electronic machine that was hooked up to my abdomen, and after awhile I was cleared to go back to school. The episodes continued all throughout high school and got so severe at the end of my senior year that I missed about the last month of school, along with my graduation. Still, nobody ever figured out that I was having panic attacks. I guess back then nobody thought that a teenager could have panic attacks or had any reason for them. I always think if somebody noticed what was really going on, maybe I could’ve dealt with this a long time ago. But who knows?

    I’ve also always kept a journal and in the 10th grade, while writing in my journal during class, my English teacher took my journal and read it. He read some of my thoughts that I wanted to kill myself, or I think what I wrote was that I just didn’t want to be alive. I remember spending the rest of the day with a counselor and he told me that he was gay and he knew I was gay and it was okay to talk about and being open about it with him. It was all so creepy. I just wanted to crawl under a rock. The next day I asked my English teacher for my journal back and he wouldn’t give it to me. When I got mad he threatened to read my journal to the class. I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I wrote in there about the sex stuff I had done with a priest and someone else, but I never heard anything about it. I was almost certain somebody would discover my secret. So either my English teacher didn’t read it or he did and just didn’t give a shit.

    Every time I see a sentence or two of the GJR something blindsides me and it’s like I can relate most of my life and what happened to me to every creepy disgusting line printed. When I read stuff like this report or self-help books, or listen to another victim’s story, it just takes me back there all over again. It just never goes away. Never! It’s like serving a life prison sentence in my mind.

    • Sounds like he read it……..that’s why he did not give it back. Whenever you write…….it reaffirms we have to stop this from happening to kids today…….like now.

    • Rich,
      I have no words for the horror you endured and the nightmare you are surviving daily. At times I want to scream, “Dear God! How much more is one little boy supposed to bear?!!!!”

      I read your post and red flags fly up all over it…I am several years older than you…but I have an idea about what teachers were required to know and do at that time. Your English teacher knew your journal was serious enough to warrant the involvement of a counselor…but threatening to read it to the class?!!! And the counselor…self-disclosing his homosexuality to a teen?…how burdensome to you, not to mention, completely inappropriate, possibly unethical. Honestly Rich…you gave every sign imaginable…the adults surrounding you didn’t do their job. I know that’s pretty much an obvious statement…but, the adults allowed a pedophile to be around you…teachers, parents, doctors, counselors…from medical to social to educational to emotional to any freaking type of intervention…they FAILED you. Maybe no one could connect the dots but how much more obvious does it have to be than for a teen to journal about not wanting to live?

      Maybe it’s generational…maybe it’s more denial than anything…I just don’t know. My husband (abused in a confessional at age 10), made an attempt on his life at age 15…and my uber-Catholic-to-the-core inlaws marched him to “confession with a priest – because it’s a sin to disrespect God in that way.” They had priests at the house preaching to him…one of the priests was the “over-seer” of the retreat at which my husband was abused!

      I’m angry right alongside you Rich. Every step of your story was either preventable or had the possibility for intervention.

      Thank you for speaking up…these are the realities of the abuse.

  19. Victims4Justice.org Reply August 25, 2011 at 1:57 am

    I tried to kill myself a few times. I don’t hardly admit it though. When I was 14 and the abuse was still going on, I went home from school one day and took a bunch of pain killers, only to wake up a few hours later with a headache and stomachache. When you get to a point in life where you feel so worthless that you don’t want to be alive anymore and you then try to kill yourself, but can’t even do that properly, how I thought of myself as completely useless and stupid.

    For the most part I really didn’t know why all that stuff was happening to me at the time it was going on. I just knew that it didn’t feel good, it was usually painful, and it always made me feel bad about me. I would pray to God for it to stop, but would eventually cry myself to sleep at night. I actually wished that he would find somebody else to do this to and leave me alone and that always made me feel bad too. I mean, I didn’t want anyone else to experience what I was going through, but I guess I was a little selfish for awhile and if it meant that I could be free, then I didn’t care about anybody else. That might be so horrible to say, but when you’re a kid and dealing with this shit, you can’t imagine some of the shit that goes through your mind on a daily basis.

    I know that the only thing that has been able to get me to this point is writing. I had a house that burned to the ground in 2002, and in my garage was literally a couple hundred journals that I had kept throughout the years. Not having that history now has always bothered me, but I still continue to write. I can’t help myself. A word processor and a keyboard and I can write all day and all night, and usually I feel better after getting it all out. I pick and choose what, if anything of what I write, I’ll let people read. I just don’t trust people enough to read my words without being critical or judgmental. Hell, I don’t hardly ever re-read what I write. But if I can draw some similarities from another’s person’s story to write about my own, maybe it won’t feel so generic coming from me. Let’s face it, nobody knows who these guys are in the GJR, but you know me and you can always contact me and get to know me better if you want, and you can see for yourself that the “few bad apples” left behind in their wake a high population of victims. I really believe that if people gave all of us victims a chance to be heard that they would take into consideration just how serious this stuff is and with us, will want to prevent it from ever happening again to another child.

    • Gosh Rich I am at a loss for words I can picture that boy you were so vividly so alone and I feel for him and I know he is still apart of you and I am glad you can write and get some peace from that. All people sooner or later suffer in life in one way or another but to suffer at the hands of another person let alone a priest and be alone like that I don’t know if there is a worse pain. I have been thinking alot about sexual abuse and how it should have the same statue of limitations as murder and I was thinking when someone is murdered the family suffers but hopefully the victim is at peace finally in heaven. In the case of sexual abuse the victim suffers the affects to some degree for the rest of their lives. Because of this and because it can lead you to despair I think it is a worse crime then murder.

      • Rich I want to say to you and all the survivors who blog on this site you give me hope your humanity shines through despite the evil done to you……..and it’s beautiful and moving to see………..

  20. To Beth and Rich, Beth I totally agree with you that sexual abuse of a child is worse than murder because it steals the trust of that child right though adulthood. Rich, your written word is so amazing. I know others have said it in here, but your’s is a story that needs to be told. I wish you would write a book. You just have a way of explaining what happened to you that instantly makes the reader feel your thoughts. I feel bad about the loss of your writings and journals, but your gift to put into words how you came through the horror of clergy sexual abuse is just amazing. Thank you for telling it like it is and I know if you do put your story out there, it will reach millions.

  21. I agree all the fine details of the sexual abuse did not have to be explicit. The court report should be used to convict the abuser not to be pornographic reading. I can only hope that the reading of that report did not create an abuser to be sexuallly out of control and had led to abusing still another child or even an adult. As an adult we can assume the jury will have to hear all the specifics and trust that they willmake their decision justly. The suggestion that this reading contains explicit sexual language can only entice a young person who somehow got to that internet page possibly looking for info on the bible? I still have my doubts that our innocence of our youth can be protected and the internet with no control of content by category will continue to create severe problems for our precious children and for caring loving parents trying to control the information that is harmful to young children..

    • I don’t know any responsible parent that does not have special software on their computer to block sexaul information and pictures etc online. On my computer at home we have Net Nanny. This is basically the same as locks on cable tv etc. I will checl it that blocks assess to this site but I bet it does.

  22. I am posting this here because I couldn’t locate a place that was more fitting.

    These are a few links I collected that you may not have seen:

    http://voicelessvictim.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/top-10-catholic-excuses-for-doing-absolutely-nothing-to-stop-child-rape/

    http://www.hondurasweekly.com/not-loyalty-but-slavish-obedience-to-popery-201109274250/

    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2011/10/snap-is-no-fit-advocate-for-sexual-abuse-victims

    Especially in the case of the last link, I am not picking a side, just supplying the link.

    More at: http://xcatholic.yuku.com

  23. I would like to understand more about why some posts require a wait for moderation and others don’t. {scratches head}

  24. Posts with two or more links require moderation. Posts by newcomers or those who have long periods between posts also require moderation. There are presets.

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