Photography Lesson: Developing from the Negative

By Anonymous

A few years back, a close family friend asked me to do some modeling. He’d signed up for a photography class at a local college. I was happy to help out and was flattered that someone would want me as a subject.

 We met to go over details. He brought along albums given to him to use as a guide. They were filled with photos of women in dresses. He referred to some of the dresses as nightwear – long, slip-like gowns. He offered to supply the clothes, if I didn’t own what was needed. We also went over how my makeup and hair should look. I would see the proofs prior to his handing in assignments and, after he was graded, the prints and negatives would be given to me.

Our first photo session was at my home. Sit this way. Turn that way. Smile. I’d change into a new outfit and repeat the poses. It was simple but exhausting. After three hours, I hoped this was the only and last session. But he needed more photos for class. The shoots continued on weekends.

He called to say a friend’s newly-painted house would be a great place to take photos. I was more comfortable in my own home and reluctant. He must have sensed my hesitation, because he began offering reasons for me to say yes. “I’ll bring sandwiches.” “Don’t worry I have the clothes and everything set up there.”

Everything went as promised. After eating our lunch, he showed me that the clothing I was to wear was neatly hung in the bedroom closet. We started taking pictures in the basement, then on the steps and ended up in the bedroom. Then, he handed me “nightwear” to put on. But this wasn’t a long slip dress like I’d seen in the albums. It was a green slip that barely reached mid-thigh.

 I felt like a deer in headlights. Robotically, I walked to the bathroom and put it on. With camera in hand, he met me in the bedroom. First, he had me stand by the bed post. Then, he had me pose on the bed. He must have realized he’d pushed me too far and said we’re done for the day. Still in shock, I went home.

Unsure of how to handle what happened and what I was feeling, I made an appointment with a therapist. That sick feeling in my stomach was validated when my therapist explained that the photo sessions were totally inappropriate. There was no photography class with homework like this. Any nagging feelings I’d pushed aside seemed obvious now. How could I have been so naive? I began questioning everything. Who else saw the photos? Why me? Who were those other women?

There’s something else you need to know about my family friend. He is a priest. He was the one I confessed my sins to, the one who married me and baptized my child.
He’d been “grooming” me for several years. This was a carefully calculated plan to build and take advantage of my faith and trust. By treating me to meals, giving me presents and always going beyond the expected, he’d paved the way for my cooperation in his abuse.

He knew exactly how to manipulate me. I’d always been a giver and felt I owed him my help. Wasn’t I obligated? People may read this and question my reactions instead of his actions. But they should know it can happen to anyone – at any age. In writing this, I hope to give a voice to others – especially those other unnamed women in the photo albums.

Note from the editors:

As the #MeToo movement emerges, people are learning that sexual abusers aren’t usually strangers threatening with guns or knives. They are friends, family or bosses who wield psychological weapons with just as much force. If it’s still difficult to understand how the story above could happen to an adult, consider the following:

  1. Many people have a driving desire to help others and meet obligations – even when it’s at one’s own expense. You’ve probably heard the term “people pleasers.” Have you ever pushed down your own discomfort because you didn’t want another person to feel uncomfortable? Have you ever felt guilty saying no to a request?
  2. Do you believe there are people who take advantage of others for their own personal gain or satisfaction. “The Sociopath Next Door,” a New York Times bestseller, reveals that 4% of people are conscienceless sociopaths. Have you watched an otherwise “smart person” fall for manipulation? Can this rise to a criminal level? Yes, of course.

Put one and two together and that equals an opportunity for abuse, at any age and in any situation. What can you do? Demand better laws and support for victims. One victim shared that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia only offers six months of counseling for victims who suffered clerical abuse as adults. Surely, they can and should do more.

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Fatal Fallout of Clergy Child Sex Abuse Continues

I’ve been told, “Just let it go. It’s over.” The cover story from the The Philadelphia Inquirer linked below is an example of why Kathy and I won’t let “it” go. The clergy sex abuse scandal continues to claim and destroy the lives of victims and those who love them. “It” continues to put children at risk. Read James Brzyski’s timeline to see how. PA’s current statute of limitation laws allow these men to evade justice and live among us undetected.

We will shut down this site when the Catholic church makes real and lasting corrections, when the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference stops fighting child sex abuse legislative reform and when victims feel fully supported by society. In other words, we hope our nursing homes have good wifi.

Please read: “Stolen Childhoods,” by Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 26, 2017.

We believe the victims. Please let us know how we can help.

 

Unsolved Murder: The Nun Who Knew Too Much

Click here to read: “Buried In Baltimore: The Mysterious Murder of a Nun Who Knew Too Much,” by Laura Bassett, Huffington Post, May 27, 2015

Excerpt:

The case remained cold for two decades. Then, in 1994, two women came forward with bombshell accusations against Maskell that tied him to the young nun’s murder. Identified in court documents at the time only as “Jane Doe” and “Jane Roe,” the women accused Maskell of raping them when they were students at Keough….The women were too afraid of Maskell and his old police friends to use their real names back then. But Maskell died in 2001, and Jane Doe and Jane Roe are finally ready to speak out publicly.

Editor’s Note:

This story has ties to Philadelphia. Father Joseph Maskell’s roommate was Father John Carney. His name is also on the list of accused priests and religious in the Baltimore Archdiocese. Carney had served as hospital chaplain at Misericordia Hospital in Philadelphia from 1982 to 1995. In 1991, he was accused of sexually abusing someone in the early 1970s. He denied the allegation. In 1995, he confirmed that his conduct was inappropriate. At that time, the Archdiocese of Baltimore removed his faculties to perform ministry.

Reporting Abuse to Another Abuser

Click here to read: “Lancaster Co. clergy abuse victim: My report wasn’t passed on,” by Brandie Kessler, York Daily Record, Dec. 9, 2016

Excerpt:

For 25 years, Sharon Tell didn’t know why she got no response after reporting she had been sexually abused by a priest.

As an adult, she told a priest at a Lancaster County church that a priest in the Allentown diocese had abused her for two decades, beginning when she was 12. Although Tell eventually notified the Allentown diocese herself, she said she never heard from anyone in the Harrisburg diocese, which oversees churches in Lancaster County.

Editor’s Note:

The Catholic Church and other institutions fail miserably at self policing. Always report abuse to:

ChidLine 1-800-932-0313;

The Attorney General’s hotline 1-888-538-8541;

Local law enforcement.

 

A Victim’s View of What Healing Should Look Like

Guest Blog By Vicky, a clergy sex abuse survivor

Obviously The Philadelphia Inquirer has let us know what they think of the sexual abuse issue by placing it with the obituaries — dead topic? I don’t think so!

Chaput said, “I apologize on behalf of the Church.” Chaput’s apology means nothing to me. He is a outsider brought in to make sure Philadelphia and Pennsylvania do not become motivated to do everything they could to help victims of clergy sexual abuse. He’s the new guy on the block. His apology would have more meaning if he had found some long-term standing priest who could convey a sincere sense of regret and grief for what has happened here. Clergy sexual abuse is a universal Church issue, the road to healing needs to begin at home. What might that healing look like? Statues of Limitations laws would be supported. Victims who truly need financial aid in terms of housing, utilities, food, and taxes would be offered as necessary assistance to simply help them to survive. Children of victims who are currently in Catholic School would continue to receive tuition support. Most of all, the Church would assume full responsibility for it’s part in the cover-up.

Chaput said, “The negligence of the church’s pastors.” Once again, it is clear that the hierarchy whether here or in Philadelphia or some where in Rome continue to be vague about where responsibility lies. If a pastor was assigned a suspected pedophile priest, the Bishop, Archbishop or Cardinal knew, but rarely the pastor. Likewise, when pastors reported sexual criminal behavior, they were told to say nothing and do nothing. They were not part of the process in dealing with the offending priest behavior.

It is obvious that the Church wants victims to simply obey. The Church has decided to move on without ever asking the victims or listening to the victims in terms of “have our words of repentance been backed up sufficiently by our actions of repentance?”

Chaput is now the 3rd head of the Archdiocese to make a hollow apology to victims, backed by insurance carriers it all comes down to “money.”

King Henry the 2nd in acknowledging his responsibility in the death of Thomas Beckett knew that the only way to show true remorse for his complicity was to go to the church take off his shirt and go under the lash, he demonstrated his remorse by giving something he cherished deeply, his own well-being.

I am not suggesting Chaput bare his back, I am suggesting that he gives up something he cherishes, so that we can all know the depth of his sincerity. For him, and for the global Church that would be money — opening up the Statues of Limitations laws truly caring for the impoverished.

The Healing Mass: Through the Eyes of a Catholic School Teacher and Clergy Sex Abuse Survivor

GUEST BLOG BY C&C

When I got the invitation to attend the healing mass, I had already only recently begun dealing with the damage to my relationship with the Church and God, my inability to participate at mass, and my anger that so many leaders were more concerned with the reputation of the Church than they were with the children entrusted to their care. Someone asked me simply, “Do you want to go?” I said, “Yes, I want to go.”

Why? Well, I am not going to let this mess ruin the the good parts of the relationship of a lifetime. I am not going to stay away and let them talk about distant, faceless victims. I am going to stand right in front of them and let them see my face. I know that many might find it difficult to understand not knowing my whole story, but I hope you will trust me when I say that, despite the harm done, my relationship with the Catholic Church and the many good people in it, saved my life.

When I was a teenager, I could have fought harder to bring the bad situation to light, but I let them play on my fear that my reputation would be destroyed, that I would suffer more by exposing what had happened. How do you fight against that as a child? When you grow up Catholic, almost everyone you know is Catholic. How can you face being questioned or doubted by everyone who matters in your life?

Back then, I had no way of knowing that I was not alone. It was not until the past decade that I became aware that it was not just this one man who had taken advantage of me.  I was not alone and the conspiracy to cover this up went all the way to the top.

Stepping inside the cathedral and looking Archbishop Chaput in the eye as he delivered his homily was my symbolic action that I am going to reclaim what is good in my Church and work from within for some justice.  I am here and I am not going away. You cannot talk about me and pray for my healing from a distance. I am standing here right in front of you. I will continue to tell my story to anyone who will listen with an open mind and open heart. Many of the people with whom I have shared some of my story are surprised. I am not who they imagine when they think of victims.

They think of me as the Catholic school teacher. They see me as someone who loves the Church and all the good it has done for me. I do love the Church- the individual people who make up the Body of Christ. I see the priests and the bishops as OUR servants and I will be working to remind them that they have twisted that relationship, separated themselves and lifted themselves above us.
One of my students from over 20 years ago asked me to go to dinner on Saturday. I told him I was going to the Mass for Healing for Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse. He let me know that he would pick me up, go to mass with me, and take me to dinner after. To have someone who has thanked me for having a positive impact on his life be willing to stand beside me is an overwhelming gift I cannot begin to explain.

When I first stepped inside, there were women with baskets handing out hand knitted squares and prayer cards. Later, I realized that these little squares were prayer cloths knitted by Senior Hearts in Action. I wondered if these senior citizens had considered the number of cloths. The AD says they sent out around 200 invitations. Those are just the victims they know about and are willing to accept mailings from them.  Just how many of us are there?  Think about how that number grows as we consider that this is a worldwide problem.

Just before we got started, there was an announcement. We were told that it was “inevitable” that there would be some protest. We were assured that security was there to to help us maintain our focus. I had to laugh at this. There was security to protect us from the the people for whom we were praying and their advocates. On my way out, I counted at least four bored Allied Barton security guards standing at the back.

As the priests and bishops processed up the center aisle, I was struck by a smell of the incense and the sight of the bright purple Lenten vestments.  I had chosen a pew that would allow me to see the face of the archbishop quite clearly during his homily. I looked around and realized that we were the only occupants of this pew. My companion and I agreed that the place felt a little empty.
During the Liturgy of the Word, I listened quite intently to the readings for this 3rd Sunday in Lent. I also looked around and got the sense that those in attendance were perhaps the same people who would have been there anyway.

During this particular service, I expected the intercession for the healing of victims of clergy sexual abuse. I think this should be included frequently in all parishes throughout the world. Not just this one day. How are things going to change if the people in the pews are not going to acknowledge it? Despite the press and all the public attention, so many still refuse to see. They see the attention as an attack on their faith from outsiders and bad, fallen Catholics. If they hear it often enough, perhaps they will begin to be curious and begin to take back some of the power they have relinquished to the leaders of their Church.

At one point during the mass, a woman abruptly walked up one of the side aisles toward the altar, crossed the center aisle and made her way down the other side. I was too far to hear her, but she seemed to be saying something in a low voice.

After mass, we made our way through the slow procession as everyone exited. The group holding signs was neither confrontational nor disruptive. They formed a tight line right at the exit so that anyone exiting would have to see them and could not avoid reading at least one sign. I wish I could have stood with them and attended, but I had to make the choice that was right for me on this particular day.
It seemed that everyone was out in Center City enjoying the fairly pleasant evening. We drove around for quite some time to find a parking space and discussed our impressions of the homily. My companion just happens to be in need of healing from a broken relationship. So, what struck him was Chaput’s lesson of the many biblical associations with romantic relationships starting at wells. He got a little caught up in that imagery because of his recent experiences

In that moment, I came to a realization. What had struck me was how many times he had said the words, “sexual abuse.” Of course, I would focus on that, but what effect would his words have had on the others? We rarely listen without connecting to our own experiences. For those never touched by clergy sexual abuse, the message was probably was probably adequate. For me, it was only a beginning.

As we chatted over dinner, we talked about healing. The archbishop said the we needed healing that only God could provide. Prayer is only one part of healing. Catholics don’t rely solely on God for healing. For many other causes, we have been encouraged to take action. To heal, we must recognize the cause of our sickness and do whatever we can to treat the cause- not just the symptoms.

I want a leadership of the Catholic Church that is able to demonstrate by clear and consistent behavior that they believe that priests who abuse their children are not just sick sinners also in need of healing but criminals who should be held accountable to their victims. As they taught us when they asked us to confess our sins for the first time, reconciliation occurs when you are truly sorry for your sins and you are truly committed to sinning no more.

I am glad I went simply because it was something I needed to experience for myself. I am new to this process of confronting what happened in the past and have just started working on healing.  As I continue to reflect on it in the coming days, I will continue to ask myself what I am going to do in the future to guarantee my own healing and to guarantee that no other child feels compelled to remain silent and contain the frustration, pain, and anger alone for a lifetime.