Monthly Archives: February 2016
The girls, the paedophile and Cardinal Pell
Words: Debi Marshall
From the Link: The girls, the paedophile and Cardinal Pell
Australia’s worst paedophile priest, Father Gerald Ridsdale, once lived with a young clergyman who is now Cardinal George Pell. As the Cardinal prepares to give evidence to the child abuse royal commission, two women break decades of silence to tell Debi Marshall about their ordeal in Ridsdale’s care – and their disappointment with Pell.
In 1973, a young Father George Pell, flushed with success from his recent studies in Rome and Oxford, returned to his home town of Ballarat and took up residence in the St Alipius presbytery; a place, it would be publicly revealed more than 20 years later, that was a paedophile’s paradise and a child’s nightmare.
His housemate that year was the tall, rowdy and popular parish priest, Father Gerald Ridsdale. What the parents and parishioners who worshipped God and obeyed the sanctity of the church and its messengers did not know was that from early in his priesthood, Ridsdale was subject to a psychiatric report. He was already a serial child abuser who sodomised children at will, picking them off when and where his desires dictated: in front of a church altar, at the presbytery, or on camping or fishing trips.
When he hurt them, he ignored their cries for him to stop. If they persisted in making a racket, he beat them. Badly.
In May 2015, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began an investigation into how Catholic Church authorities dealt with paedophile clergy in Ballarat and the impact of abuse. It heard that the diocese was a hotbed of scandal, cover-ups and paedophilia, and that vulnerable children – particularly orphans – had been prey to abusive clergy.
The hulking figure of Fr Ridsdale had given sermons from the pulpit while secretly running an unsophisticated, but terrifyingly effective paedophile ring. All three of Ridsdale’s Christian Brother cohorts – particularly Brother Robert Best – had also enjoyed uninterrupted access to vulnerable children, whom they handed around to each other to abuse.
“Because I went into care so young and stayed until I was 12, I was known as a “lifer””
For Gabbi Short, now 60, growing up at Ballarat’s Nazareth House Girls’ Home, run by the Sisters of Nazareth, was the equivalent of living in hell; a daily battle for survival. The fifth of nine children, Gabbi was placed into care when she was just eight weeks old, at the suggestion of her parents’ local priest.
“Dad was a war veteran who suffered shell-shock and neuroses,” she says. “Mum cared about us, but the way Dad was, she had no choice but to put me and my sister in a home. She had no pension to live on.
“Because I went into care so young and stayed there until I was 12, I was known as a ‘lifer’. Mum made every effort to continue to see me, but the nuns made it clear she wasn’t welcome at Nazareth House and she eventually gave up.”
Gabbi recalls with a shudder the years 1963 and 1964.
“They were just the worst years,” she says. “That was when Father Gerald Ridsdale, who was the chaplain at our school, and Sister Imelda, were there together. It was a nightmare.”
Sr Imelda, a young, attractive nun, was a sadist to children.
“She was in Ridsdale’s thrall,” Gabbi says, ticking off on her fingers some of the brutalities she and other orphans endured.
“She was charming and sycophantic to Ridsdale, but together they brutalised us orphans continually. The sexual and physical assaults that I and the other girls endured between us are too many to list, and they are all graphic and appalling.
“For no apparent reason, Sr Imelda would slam my head up against the wall, which resulted in a hairline fracture of my skull, drag me up the passage by my hair, make me stand in the freezing cold hallway for three hours at a time or get down on my knees and polish the concrete.
“She would belt me for wetting the bed and if we wet ourselves from fear, we had to lick up our own urine.”
“We were his playthings. He’d kick us, belt us, or slam our heads up against walls.”
Ridsdale, whom Gabbi describes as an “arrogant and cruel beast of a man,” also delighted in the abuse.
“He just ran amok,” Gabbi says. “We were his playthings. He’d kick us, belt us, or slam our heads up against walls. He used to belt me around the head with his hand. Maybe they hated themselves and their life – who knows? But we were definitely their scapegoats. There was no escaping the brutality.”
Gabbi developed her own defence mechanism to ward off the sure advances of the paedophiles who worked in or visited Nazareth House.
“After all the abuse I’d endured, I developed such a thing about my body that from the age of 12, no-one would dare touch me,” she says. “Paedophiles are experts at knowing which children to pick on and they didn’t come near me. But not all my friends were as lucky.’
Gabbi recalls that Ridsdale would visit Nazareth House and take girls away as he chose. No-one stopped him.
”One of his favourite girls was Sarah [not her real name], who was in charge of us junior girls,” Gabbi says. “He raped her repeatedly from the age of 10 but when she reported it to a nun, it was ignored.
“Sarah tried to commit suicide by jumping out a second floor window. A nun came in, made all the girls in her dormitory line up at the window so she couldn’t try to jump out again, and belted her within an inch of her life.
“Sarah was so desperate, she just wanted to die. Years later, she accompanied a friend who needed to see a priest for pre-marital counselling. When she entered the room, she found to her horror that the priest was Ridsdale. He recognised her instantly and pulled a photograph of her in her first Communion dress from his top drawer. He had kept it all those years.”
When she heard a baby cry after her excruciating labour, she was told to be quiet.
There are other stories, too, of girls who won’t be identified: the 12-year-old virgin who mysteriously became pregnant at the orphanage and was secretly sent to have her baby at St Joseph’s Babies Home in Broadmeadows. When she heard a baby cry after her excruciating labour and asked if it was her child, she was told to be quiet. She was returned to the orphanage, sans baby, and told to say she had been on holiday.
She doesn’t know who the father of her baby was, but suspects she was drugged and raped, probably by a priest; possibly Ridsdale. It would be 50 years before she would reunite with the son taken from her.
Cossetted from the outside world, with the Catholic mantra of guilt and hell, fire and brimstone to keep them on the straight and narrow, the orphans knew that it was a mortal sin to be molested and that if that happened, they would go straight to hell.
“You need to understand just how isolated and cut off we were behind the walls of that imposing, grandiose orphanage,” Gabbi says.
“We were so vulnerable. On one side of the grounds was a nursing home for the elderly; we were on the other side. We had the same teacher for every subject, so we couldn’t get away from the sadism.
“I didn’t even know the word sex, let alone what it meant.”
“There were about 15 girls in my class. They were all abused.”
At the mercy of the Nazareth nuns who, in turn, did the priests’ bidding, they weren’t taught about sex.
“I didn’t even know the word, let alone what it meant,” Gabbi says.
Gabbi made that special Catholic sacrament, the First Communion, in 1963, aged 7, and saw her mother, very briefly the day before.
“I ran to her and asked her not to go away any more,” she says. “But I never saw her again.” Her mother died in 2003.
Gabbi has a photograph of herself from that day, dressed, as are her fellow students, in a virginal, white, knee-length dress and veil. Standing between them, a vulture amongst his flock, dressed in black robes, his hands piously locked together and wearing an affable smile, is Fr Ridsdale. He had something to smile about: just a week before, he had raped yet another young girl, Julie Braddock. As with the other children he frequently assaulted, he had got away with it.
“In my 40s, I started to talk about what had happened at the orphanage.”
Julie, now 60, has carried the scars of Ridsdale and Imelda’s abuse throughout her life.
“He was the parish priest, so we saw him every day,” she recalls. “Both of them were preparing us for our First Communion; we were learning passages from the Bible. They agreed I needed one-on-one tuition, so I was sent to meet Father in the chapel.”
It started innocently enough: a word of encouragement from Ridsdale, a kiss on the cheek, progressing to him putting his hand up her dress and then his fingers into her vagina.
“I cried, because it hurt,” she grimaces. “I was still crying when I went to see Sr Imelda.”
It was the worst decision she could have made. Imelda beat her, savagely, and locked her under the stairs for three days. Released from the dark, foul-smelling cupboard where she was given only a bucket for her excrement, she was again sent to Ridsdale.
“He said that evil was inside me and he needed to get it out.”
The rape that followed was so brutal that when she cried out in pain, Sr Imelda entered the room and dragged Julie to the bathroom, demanding she take a bath before she was sent to get her toilet bag. Forcing her to lie on the cold lino, Imelda inserted Julie’s soapy toothbrush in her vagina and rectum until she bled. Satisfied that she was clean, Imelda then pronounced that Julie was a filthy girl who must remain silent about what had happened.
Julie was seven and a half years old. Ridsdale would rape her again on at least two occasions.
A week before her First Communion, Julie fainted during rehearsals. Enraged, Ridsdale ordered that she stay behind when the other students left.
“He dragged me out of the church and threw me down the steps.”
“He slammed me so hard in the face that I fell over the church pew and was very badly bruised,” she says, absently drawing a figure-eight with her fingers on her kitchen table.
“Then he dragged me out of the church and threw me down the steps.”
“Nobody gets away with that!” he screamed. Lying whimpering on the ground, she quivered to see Sr Imelda advance toward her, to pick her up. She knew what she was in for.
Like other orphans, Julie, the sixth child in her family, desperately needed loving care – not abuse. Abandoned by their mother when Julie was one month shy of her second birthday, she and her two siblings – one marginally older than herself, one three months of age – were taken into police custody.
Sent to St Joseph’s Babies Home, run by the Sisters of Nazareth, Julie was placed into the Nazareth House Girls Home at the age of five. It was an unwelcome induction.
“Our names were called out and we had to stand in buckets of boiling water.”
“I was shown to my dormitory and told not to wet the bed. The next morning, very early, I was woken and hit on the legs by the nun because I had wet the bed. She rubbed my face into the wet sheet so hard my nose bled. I was then dragged to the bathroom, told to strip in front of the other girls, and beaten along with others who had wet the bed. Later, our names were called out and we had to stand our naked feet in buckets of boiling water.”
The physical abuse was so horrendous, that on occasions Julie would fall unconscious. Sr Imelda was always the most vicious.
“She broke my fingers,” Julie says. “She made me and the other girls eat our own vomit.”
Gabbi and Julie became friends.
“I once tried, with Gabbi, to crawl through a hole in the fence, but a nun kept dragging me back. The wire was embedded in my leg and I needed 11 stitches. I was locked in a cupboard under the stairs for days and nights as punishment. When I was released, I was so ill I had to stay in the sick room for eight days.”
Julie was never told that her real sister, Gail, was at the orphanage, and imagined that Gabbi was her sister.
Julie left the orphanage in 1963 to live with foster parents. But her foster father, too – a pillar of the Polish church and, she believes, part of Ridsdale’s paedophile ring – also abused her; abuse that was so terrible she still can’t speak of it.
“I was locked in a cupboard under the stairs for days and nights.”
In 1968, she became violently ill. Flummoxed as to the cause of her condition, the doctor would later ascertain it was the result of Ridsdale’s abuse and the injuries she sustained at her First Communion rehearsal. Julie’s spleen, one kidney and her appendix were removed.
To escape the hell of life at home, in 1972, aged 16, Julie left home and later married a boy she liked, but didn’t love. The marriage didn’t last, but depression, which has dogged her all her life, did. Four serious suicide attempts ended with hospitalisation, but she eventually found love, married, had seven children and gained a teachers degree. Her beloved husband died in 2005, as did her foster mother, who had left her husband immediately when Julie finally told her of the abuse.
Gabbi left the orphanage in 1968. Moving through a succession of other Catholic homes, including the Winlaton Youth Training Centre – “virtually a prison” – she slept rough on the streets. The terror and trauma she suffered as a child haunted her in her 20s, when her body turned in on itself.
“I was in shock and went down to 30kg,” Gabbi says. “I was dying inside.”
Determined to get stronger, she found work, married and had three children. The marriage didn’t last, but what has lasted is her commitment to ensuring others did not go through what she experienced.
“In my 40s, I started to talk about what had happened at the orphanage,” Gabbi says. “I started to heal and I haven’t stopped talking about it since.”
“I could move on with my life but I’ve chosen to speak out for vulnerable children.”
Now a spokesperson for Forgotten Australians and a relentlessly outspoken critic of the malevolent evil that was allowed to flourish in Ballarat – and elsewhere Ridsdale and his companions lived and worked – Gabbi says she will not rest until these paedophiles and malicious nuns are fully exposed.
“I could move on with my life and put this behind me,” she says, “but I’ve chosen to speak out for vulnerable children who can’t speak for themselves. We need to look out for kids today because no-one looked after the kids of yesterday. We were just open slather.”
THE LAW EVENTUALLY CAUGHT UP WITH RISDALE AND HIS PAEDOPHILE COHORTS, BUT TOO LATE TO SAVE MORE THAN 30 BOYS, WHO CHOSE TO END THEIR OWN LIVES RATHER THAN RELIVE THE ONGOING NIGHTMARE OF THE SADISTIC SEXUAL, PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL ABUSES INFLICTED ON THEM BY THESE SO-CALLED MEN OF THE CLOTH.
The law eventually caught up with Ridsdale and his paedophile cohorts, but too late to save more than 30 boys, who chose to end their own lives rather than relive the ongoing nightmare of the sadistic sexual, physical and emotional abuses inflicted on them by these so-called men of the cloth.
For Ridsdale, the dominos started falling when, in 1992, one of his male victims contacted a hotline regarding paedophile priests. When the police came calling, he could no longer hide behind his cassock, clerical collar and cross. He went quietly.
Pell welcomed the announcement of the Royal Commission, but his welcome soured in public opinion when he added that priests who hear confessions from people who commit child sex abuse must remain bound by the Seal of Confession (the duty of Catholic priests not to disclose what is heard), which he described as ‘inviolable’.
Later, addressing intense questioning at the Royal Commission about what he knew, Pell (by then a Cardinal in Rome and one of the Vatican’s most powerful figures) said he had noticed nothing.
“[Ridsdale] concealed his crimes from me and other priests in Ballarat, from parishioners and from his own family,” he asserted grimly.
Pell’s decision to walk with this vilified priest would prove to be a PR disaster.
Victims, police and the media, were outraged. Not only had Pell shared a house with Ridsdale in 1973, he had chosen to walk side byside with him into court in 1993, when Ridsdale pleaded guilty to 30 counts of indecent assault against nine boys, aged 12 to 16, between 1974 and 1980, for which he received his first, 12 month sentence.
Both had cut an odd figure: Pell, then an ambitious auxiliary Bishop in colourless priestly robes, and Ridsdale, sporting a garish white suit and hiding behind oversized sunglasses. Pell’s decision to walk with this vilified priest would prove to be a PR disaster.
In 1994, Pell had allegedly responded to child abuse victim Timothy Green that he not be ‘ridiculous’ when Green told him that Ridsdale’s friend, Brother Edward Dowlan, was abusing children at St Patrick’s College. Pell has insisted he has no recollection of such a conversation. He was present at a 1982 meeting of the College of Consultors, which discussed unseating Ridsdale from the Mortlake Parish to a Catholic centre in Sydney.
Risdale was convicted of 54 child sexual abuse and indecent assault charges.
By 1993, Ridsdale’s days of being protected were numbered and a flood of victims would continue to come forward. Between 1993 and 2013 he was convicted of 54 child sexual abuse and indecent assault charges against children aged as young as four.
“The vast majority of those were boys,” Gabbi says. “But we know there are girls for which he hasn’t been charged and that the figure is higher – much higher – than 54. Hopefully his past will catch up with him before he is eligible for parole again in 2019. Or before he goes to meet his Maker, in whose image he had represented himself.”
A slim, intense woman with a ready smile, who speaks in an urgent torrent of words, Gabbi cannot hide her disgust that Pell consistently claims he did not see or hear anything.
“How could he not have heard the relentless rumours or the parishioners’ complaints?” she asks, incredulous.
“How could he not have seen the stricken faces of the children when they left Ridsdale’s company? Even Ridsdale’s nephew, David, who was sexually abused by him for five years from the age of 11, claimed to have told Pell about the abuse. He says that Pell’s response was to offer him a financial bribe to keep quiet. Pell, of course, dismissed David’s claim by responding that ‘An offer of help is not the same as a bribe.’ It all just beggars belief.”
At the Royal Commission, Pell said that at no time had he attempted to bribe David or his family, nor did he offer any financial inducements for him to be silent.
And throughout the storms, Pell stood resolute. Paedophilia “was always regarded as being totally reprehensible,” he intoned.
This is probably my last chance to tell my story.”
In 2007, Gabbi and Julie, who had not seen each other for 44 years, met again at a Nazareth House reunion. They have remained friends. Gabbi exhorted Julie to tell her story, but shame and humiliation linger like shadows. She is now very ill.
“This is probably my last chance to tell my story,” she says. “I was stripped of everything I was and everything I am, just as the other 500,000 Australian orphans were. I didn’t know I had siblings until I was 25.
“It matters that I, and other orphans, called out for help and were ignored. Imelda is dead, Ridsdale in prison, but it still matters. It matters. We need justice.”
Julie, too, questions why Pell supported Ridsdale and not the victims. Like other child abuse victims, she is disgusted and outraged that Pell has cited ill health as his reason for not returning to Australia to face the Royal Commission – offering instead to appear by video link.
“If he’s well enough to run the Vatican’s finances,” she spits, “he’s well enough to come home and be counted.”
Julie, who gave evidence before the Royal Commission, is adamant that history must not repeat.
“We are only weeks away from the next sitting of the Royal Commission in Ballarat,” she says. “I want the church to stop hiding what happened. It needs to stop trying to write its own script to take away who we, as victims, are.”
“If Risdale had been stopped in the 1960’s, he wouldn’t have gone on to rape so many.”
She has a special message for Ridsdale and others she believes have turned a blind eye: “Stop protecting each other. You need to go to the next life with honesty and give us victims some peace.”
“The tragic reality is that if Ridsdale had been stopped in the 1960s, when there were so many warnings about his disgusting behaviour, he wouldn’t have gone on to rape so many boys – a slew of whom later took their own lives – or girls,” she says.
“History could be so very different if those men of the church hadn’t lied and covered up for him and others. This story is just the tip of the iceberg. Nazareth House and the Catholic Church need prosecuting, as do any nuns still alive who abused us. Ridsdale needs prosecuting for what he did to us.
“The question is now: who was protecting Ridsdale? Let’s throw the book at those people.”
Sexual Assault Counselling Australia provides counselling for people who want to address their trauma as a result of hearing about the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Call 1800 211 028.
The National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service 1800RESPECT also offers counselling on 1800 737 732 and at https://www.1800respect.org.au/
Winner of the 2015 Walkley award for Journalistic Leadership, Debi Marshall is an associate producer with Seven’s Sunday Night and author of numerous crime books.
Archdiocese receives allegation of abuse against religious order priest
February 12, 2016
From the Link: Archdiocese receives allegation of abuse against religious order priest
The Archdiocese of Baltimore released the following statement Feb. 12.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore has learned of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Father Jorge Antonio Velez-Lopez, T.C., 60, a member of the religious order known as the Tertiary Capuchins, who last served in the archdiocese in 2010. The alleged abuse began approximately in 2007 while Father Velez was assigned to St. John the Evangelist Parish in Columbia. The alleged victim was a parishioner at Resurrection of Lord in Laurel.
The allegation was immediately reported to civil authorities in Howard County, to the superior of Father Velez’s religious order, and to the Diocese of Alexandria, La., where Father Velez has most recently been serving.
After receiving permission from civil authorities, a representative of the archdiocese traveled to the Diocese of Alexandria to meet with Father Velez to discuss the allegations. At the meeting Feb. 11, Father Velez admitted to the allegations. The Archdiocese of Baltimore reminded Father Velez that he is not permitted to function as a priest or to minister in any capacity in the archdiocese. His authority to act as a priest in the archdiocese ended when he left service here in 2010. In accordance with archdiocesan policy, counseling assistance has been offered to all those affected.
Father Velez began working in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in July 2002 and served at St. John from 2003 to 2010. During this time he also ministered to members of the Spanish-speaking community in several other parishes, including Church of the Resurrection in Laurel, Holy Trinity in Glen Burnie, St. John the Evangelist Church in Frederick, Sacred Heart Church in Glyndon, and St. Joseph Church in Cockeysville
The Archdiocese of Baltimore is committed to protecting children and helping to heal victims of abuse. We urge anyone who has any knowledge of any child sexual abuse to come forward, and to report it immediately to civil authorities. If clergy or other church personnel are suspected of committing the abuse, we ask that you also call the Archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection Hotline at 1-866-417-7469. If you have any other information relevant to this matter, please contact the Archdiocese Office of Child and Youth Protection at 410-547-5599.
The Story of Michael Iatesta survivor of clergy abuse by Father Gerald Raune in the Archdiocese of Newark New Jersey
The Story of Michael Iatesta survivor of clergy abuse by Father Gerald Raune in the Archdiocese of Newark New Jersey By Matt C. Abbott
The following is the story of Michael Iatesta, a survivor of clergy abuse. It is a slightly edited version of a statement he gave at an April 17 press conference.
“Gerald Ruane, a recently retired priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, parish priest, college professor, campus minister, chaplain, director of the Sacred Heart Institute of Healing, and a national charismatic healer is also a child sex offender.
“I was one of his victims.
“I was raised in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and received all of my education from Catholic institutions. I graduated from Sacred Heart Grammar School in Bloomfield, Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair, and received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Seton Hall University in South Orange. I now reside in Westfield, New Jersey.
“I’m a human rights activist, and for the last decade have worked to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS around the world. Most recently, I have worked for the Centers for Disease Control’s Global AIDS Program. I am here to tell you my story and to inform you that I will be filing a civil law suit against the Archdiocese of Newark, Father Ruane and the archbishop for years of emotional and psychological exploitation. I am fortunate to have attorney John Aretakis to represent me.
“In 1973, when I was eleven, my father was dying of cancer. Hoping for a cure, I was introduced to Father Ruane at a charismatic healing Mass by my cousin who worked for him at Caldwell College between 1973 and 1977. Unfortunately, my father succumbed to his illness and died in 1974. During the next year, I remained a vulnerable, depressed young boy who was desperately seeking comfort and solace from the ordeal of my father’s illness and subsequent death.
“In 1975, I was reacquainted with Father Ruane when he began his healing ministry. Instead of providing care, spiritual strength, and support to me, Gerald Ruane had his own corrupt self-interest in mind, which was neither priestly nor ‘fatherly.’ Throughout the rest of my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, Father Ruane subjected me to sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse. Father Ruane told me during our earliest encounters that, since I no longer had a father, I required ‘ten hugs a day by a man to grow up normal.’
“He also told me that I shouldn’t date or fantasize about sex with girls, that I shouldn’t go out with my friends who were outside the charismatic movement, and that I should consider living in their House of Prayer, a Christian group home where prayer would be the focus of the day. At an early age he instructed me to provide the sacrament of healing and communion to the congregation. I knew this was wrong but felt he had a hypnotic spell over me making it difficult to say no to any of his wishes or advances.
“Throughout the years of 1975 – 1982, I would often be invited to visit Father Ruane at Caldwell College in Caldwell, Sacred Heart Church in Bloomfield, Our Lady of the Lakes Rectory in Verona and The Sacred Heart Institute of Healing in Caldwell. During these visitations for prayer and healing he would instruct the sister or rectory keeper to leave and would instruct that we were not to be disturbed for any reason. Behind locked doors, I would be given my prescription of ‘hugs.’
“Eventually these hugs led to sexual touching. Father Ruane would instruct me to lie on the couch, and then he would lie on top of me, breathing hard, kissing me on my neck and lips, whispering in my ear, and fondling my genitals inside my pants, exploring every private area of my body. While in his room in the rectory, he would frequently ask me to take off my shirt, and, if I was comfortable, my pants, so he could give me a massage that, inevitably, would once again lead to him on top of me engaging in the same behavior as in other times.
“This went on for all of my adolescent years. After leaving I was always in tears, feeling ugly and dirty, hoping I would die, so I wouldn’t have to face another visit with the priest.
“During this period of time, I was also invited to be Father Ruane’s racquetball partner. I didn’t like the game, but again, I was under his spell and couldn’t say no. After these games, he would insist that we shower together. I wanted to shower at home because I was a modest and insecure teenager. While in the shower, Father Ruane would always stare at me and compliment me with lewd comments and wash me. All I could do was to stand, frozen. Afterwards, he would ask me to place my hands on his head and pray for his forgiveness. I often felt shame and guilt after these showers and said so to him. In reply to this, Father Ruane once wrote to me stating ‘…you’re much too hard on yourself; you should be much harder on me.’
“I slowly began to hate his hugs and touching more and more and tried to back away, but this proved difficult for a child who was raised to always obey and respect priests. I also believed he really loved me. Moreover, Father Ruane was very charismatic. He supposedly healed people, and was loved by many. His status nationwide made me question why I feared his closeness and affections while others would consider his touches a blessing and a privilege.
“I felt ungrateful for his love. At this time, I thought if I confronted his actions, admitted to others or to myself that his behavior was wrong or motivated by a selfish sexual desire, it would mean our relationship was based on a lie, and the declarations from him of love, friendship and support were meaningless. I couldn’t accept another loss of a relationship that, despite its disturbing and abusive aspects, had meant so much to me at the time of my father’s death.
“After college, when Father Ruane learned that I had started to date and have sexual relations with a girl, he became very angry; he was jealous. He told me I was sinning and that I should leave her and come to live in their House of Prayer to avoid these temptations. Fortunately, my girlfriend helped me to realize how much control this priest had on me and for the first time I began to see things from another perspective.
“In 1986 I began to see a psychologist and was soon hospitalized at Carrier Clinic for major depression with suicidal ideation. After my hospitalization, I attended group therapy. With the group’s support I realized I needed to confront Father Ruane. One night after meeting with the group, I drove to the rectory and was greeted by the housekeeper. It was around 10 p.m. I asked for Father Ruane, and she said he was in his room asleep. I told her it was an emergency; she reluctantly called him.
“When I saw him I began screaming at him. He told the housekeeper to leave and brought me to an adjacent room. I asked him if he had sexually abused me, and he repeatedly said no, then said, ‘I went too far because I fell in love with you.’ I asked him if he was gay, and he repeatedly said no, and then said, ‘I might be, I’m not sure, I’m confused.’ He told me someone in the Church was counseling him and that he was also seeing a private therapist. He apologized for what he did over the years and admitted that he was ‘out of control and crossed boundaries’ and stated that he still loved me. I replied, ‘What you did to me was not love — you took advantage of me.’
“In 1992, I still had a lot of anger toward Father Ruane for what he did to me emotionally and physically. I remained depressed and was in great debt because of outstanding psychologist bills, hospital expenses and college tuition. My co-worker and closest friend advised that I needed to bring closure to what happened between Father Ruane and me. She explained that it was not helpful to be angry toward the Church for the actions of one of its priests. She suggested I speak with another priest. My psychologist at the time happened to know of a priest in her parish who was sensitive to issues similar to mine. She said, ‘The Church at least owes you this much.’ I was anxious at first because of my experiences with Father Ruane, but she assured me that I would be safe with him.
“I met with Father McNulty from the Blessed Sacrament Church in Roseland. After speaking with him, he echoed what everyone else said about the wrongdoings of Father Ruane, but he also gave me some hope. I was surprised when he advised me to report Father Ruane to Church authorities. He told me that I needed to forgive both myself and the priest and that it might be helpful to talk with Father Ruane again now that some years had passed. Taking this advice, I found out where Father Ruane’s office was, called, and asked to see him. I explained that I was ready to forgive him, and he agreed to meet me.
“I met Father Ruane at his new West Caldwell office and told him I forgave him. He appeared cold and distant and simply said, ‘I’m glad.’ He asked me how I was doing and I told him that I was working in Newark on a federally-funded AIDS prevention project, was in a solid relationship for several years and was thinking about going back to church. He asked me if I was married (he saw no wedding ring) and I said no. He then asked if I was having sex with this person. I replied yes, and we were very happy and my family and friends loved and accepted us.
“He got out of his chair, went into the other office and came back with a book. He asked again if I was living and having sex outside of marriage and I replied I was. He then gave me book on sexual addictions and suggested I read it and perhaps think about attending a sexual addiction recovery support group given my history and current situation. I gave him back the book and told him ‘no thank you’ and that he might benefit from reading it himself. As I left his office I asked if he had done to others what he had done to me. He said no. I drove home hoping he had told me the truth but remained skeptical, thinking there were probably others like me whose trust he had betrayed.
“That was the last time I saw him.
“My cousin, who had regrettably introduced me to Father Ruane, has said that during the time she worked for him, she would be called very late in the evening to do non-relative work, and work as the gatekeeper. While there, she witnessed numerous young men, some of whom had driven there, others who were too young to drive, request to see Father Ruane. These late night visitors varied from a single young man to several men. When my cousin asked about these late night visitations to his room, Father Ruane became infuriated and gawkily mentioned the young men were coming to receive ‘vocational counseling.’ My cousin quit her job because of his erratic behavior, angry outbursts, daunting male ego, and her having to be the custodian of secrets.
“In 2002, when the Church scandal involving the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy was exposed in the media, I began to experience crying spells, flashbacks, and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I’m attending weekly therapy sessions with a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a trauma specialist. Among the residual effects of my years of abuse by Father Ruane are difficulties with intimacy, major depression, an inability to trust, a corruption of my Christian beliefs, blocked access to God, loss of faith, low self esteem, identity confusion, panic attacks, PTSD episodes, suicidal ideation, dissociate flashbacks, debilitating triggers relating to abuse, sense of shame and guilt.
“For additional support, I have been attending meetings sponsored by the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). One of the SNAP members happens to know Father Ruane personally and recently spoke with him about his retirement. She mentioned that he is planning on writing another book. For the sake of his own healing, and for the sake of those he may have abused, I hope this book reflects truth and self-examination around his secret life involving abuse, betrayal, and sin.
“Another member also mentioned that Father Ruane is having quite a ‘remarkable’ house built down in South Jersey, and that she saw him concelebrating a Mass during Easter Week despite the archdiocese informing me that he can no longer function as a priest in any diocese. Do priests with whom Father Ruane concelebrated Mass realize that they were on an altar with a pedophile?
“A different priest reported seeing Father Ruane in Rome being interviewed by a roving CNN reporter. He was presenting himself as a priest and was wearing priestly attire — both banned by the archdiocese. The question is: Who’s keeping an eye on him? Does anyone really care? Are safeguards in place so priests like Father Ruane remain in compliance to their restrictions?
“More recently, the New Jersey Prosecutor’s Office has reported two similar cases of sexual abuse, during the same time frame, citing Father Ruane as the offender. Furthermore, I am told that Father Ruane has undergone treatment at a group facility for priests exhibiting sexually deviant behavior. To my mind, this evidence indicates that his alleged sexual behavior has been a long-standing problem and that there may be many other victims out there who have yet to come forward.
“Despite my overwhelming fear, I decided my story had to become public. Faced with these facts, the troubling question that remains unanswered is: Why has the Archdiocese of Newark given Father Ruane so much autonomy at the cost of other victims? I regret having fallen into Father Ruane’s trap and remain troubled by how closely he remains protected under the powerful yet shameful wings of Archbishop Myers.
“I tell you my story as a testimonial that sexual abuse remains a huge problem in the church and in a desire that priests who violate the Church’s trust and injure vulnerable young people for their depraved self-satisfaction should be held accountable, forced to receive treatment, and be removed from all of their ministerial duties so that the possibility of others being harmed is eliminated. I only hope that in the time it took for me to understand Father Ruane’s behavior for what it was — sexual abuse — there have not been others who also have been abused by him.
“Despite my own feelings of guilt for not speaking out sooner, it is Father Ruane who has sinned and who has committed a crime. I share this with you to demonstrate to others, as well as myself, that no one should have to keep such secrets. For I have come to realize, after a long, hard road, such secrets are kept at a great cost to those who keep them, as well as to those from whom they are kept.”
© Matt C. Abbott
Predator Priest Father Gerald P Ruane passes away Archbishop John Meyers keeps it quiet.
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, 314 645 5915 home, email@example.com)
A predator priest, Fr. Gerald P. Ruane, has passed away. As best we can tell, Newark Archbishop John Myers kept this quiet, denying abuse victims months of comfort. Myers seems incapable of handling any part of the church’s on-going abuse and cover up crisis with honesty and compassion.
Fr. Ruane was accused in 2002 of abusing a boy in 1970s-1980s. A second accuser also stepped forward. Archdiocesan staff “investigated” and found deemed Fr. Ruane “credibly accused.”
Myers claims to have suspended Fr. Ruane but apparently told no one (or at least few people). So in 2005, Fr. Ruane was still celebrating mass in public, until exposed by the Newark Star-Ledger, in violation of the US bishops’ conference abuse policy. That’s when his name was finally publicly released as a credibly accused child molester. (See BishopAccountability.org for more information.)
We have heard from one of Fr. Ruane’s victims, Michael Iatesta, who stumbled across news of the priest’s passing by chance this week. A statement from Michael is below.
It would have taken Myers minutes to approve and have his public relations team send out a news release about Fr. Ruane’s death. That would have brought relief to those who worried, until now, that Fr. Ruane might still be hurting children.
We hope this predator’s passing will bring some comfort to those whose lives he devastated. We also hope that someday, Myers might opt for sensitivity over self-serving secrecy. And we hope that anyone who was hurt by any Newark priest, nun, seminarian or other archdiocesan staff will find the courage to speak up, get help, expose predators, protect kids, deter cover ups and start healing.
Statement by Michael Iatesta, abused as a youngster by Fr. Ruane:
“As I was looking for my mom’s obituary to send to family and friends I accidentally came across this notification. How ironic it was, in so many ways, that the priest who sexually and emotionally abused me as a young boy was laid out (August, 2015) at the same funeral home just a few months before my mom. In his obituary he was described as one who lived a life devoted to God and served God’s people with great dignity. I know for certain my mom lived a more saintly life and was always selfless in her actions and in her heart-felt service to others. She is resting in peace now knowing that the man she bestowed her trust upon when I was grieving my father’s death could no longer hurt/abuse or take advantage of any other vulnerable young children. She spoke and wrote to me on countless occasions about the guilt she had not knowing therefore not reporting his inappropriate actions. But as a woman of great faith she was able to forgive him for his sins as she taught us through her own actions, faith and devotion that love and forgiveness is what would ultimately bring us all closer to God and eternal happiness. She was a dedicated Catholic who saw everyone as God sees them and touched the lives of countless people in countless ways. She was in a true sense “priestly” and” charismatic’” unlike Ruane who selfishly used and exerted his priestly duties for his own alternative motives.”
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact – David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell,firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell,bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Mark Crawford, SNAP New Jersey Director (732-632-7687,email@example.com)
NY Bishop Rape Shames Abuse Victims: Boys Are ‘Culpable’ For Their Actions At 7 Years Old
By Charles Topher | 16 September 2015
Bishop Robert Cunningham of the diocese of Syracuse, NY doesn’t think priests should take all of the blame for decades, if not centuries, of sexual abuse against young boys. According to Cunningham, the “age of reason” in the Catholic church is seven, so those boys are culpable for their actions.
The shocking statement came during testimony that was recently released from a deposition for a federal lawsuit. Charles Bailey, a survivor of a priest’s abuse, asked then-Bishop James Moynihan whether the church held children victims partly responsible for sexual abuse from priests . “(Bishop) Moynihan said that right to my face – ‘The age of reason is 7, so if you’re at least 7 you’re culpable for your actions.’ That kind of floored me,” said Bailey.
Obviously, the sentiment isn’t something one Bishop believes, but a broader excuse used to cover for the guilt of sexual predators.
The “age of reason” may be seven years old, but that in no way makes it the “age it’s the kid’s fault he was raped.” According to church doctrine, seven is the age a child should understand the difference between right and wrong. It’s also the age a child is eligible for communion.
A spokesman for the diocese has been trying to defend the bishop, saying that his statements in a deposition don’t mean he believes children are responsible for being raped and that it was “unfair to use the deposition to characterize his position otherwise.”
“Unfair may not quite cut it where this man is concerned. When pressed on the issue, he said it wasn’t his place to know how much guilt was on the victim’s hands. The simple answer, “none,” became another distorted version of reality that somehow makes it at least partially a child’s fault when a priest abuses him.
“Well, I mean, without knowing the circumstances completely, did the boy encourage, go along with (it) in any way?” Cunningham asked. The lawyer asked Cunningham if he could imagine any circumstance in which a 14- or 15-year-old boy could be held responsible in the eyes of the church when a priest asks him to engage in sex.
“Obviously, what the priest did was wrong,” Cunningham said. “You’re asking me if the young man had any culpability, and I can’t judge that.”
Actually, you can judge that. Anyone can judge that. What happened is priests used their influence and position as “messengers of God” to force children to comply with their perverted sexual desires. In the very least they were forced to make adult decisions they didn’t have the capacity to make. This bishop and all the priests he defended with this mindless argument betrayed the trust of the parishioners and especially the children of the Diocese of Syracuse.
Charles Bailey has circulated a petition he intends to present to Pope Francis in Philadelphia during his visit to remove Bishop Cunningham as the head of the church there.
REVEAL: THE GLARE OF SPOTLIGHT.
From the Link: Reveal: The Glare of Spotlight
YOU MUST CLICK ON THE LINK TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST. IT IS A ONE HOUR PODCAST THAT TALKS ABOUT THE CHURCH AFTER THE SPOTLIGHT TEAM OF THE BOSTON GLOBE CAME OUT WITH THE STORY ABOUT PEDOPHILE PIMP CARDINAL BERNARD LAW….AND HIS COVER UPS OF PEDOPHILE PRIESTS IN BOSTON ARCHDIOCESE.
Oscar season is upon us, and one of the best picture nominees is a film that hits pretty close to home for us at Reveal: “Spotlight.” In case you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a movie about The Boston Globe’s investigative team that exposed the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.
In this hour of Reveal, we’re going to take you behind the scenes of that investigation, look at the legacy of the groundbreaking story and see how other journalists went on to expose more crimes by Catholic priests around the world.
First up, we tell you what happened after the “Spotlight” movie ended and how The Boston Globe continued to expose cover-ups in the Catholic Church.
In the second segment, Minnesota Public Radio exposes a priest abuse scandal in the Twin Cities, more than a decade after The Globe’s original investigation. Reporter Madeleine Baran spent two years looking into the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and uncovered how the church had been making secret payments to known abusers while continuing to conceal clergy sexual abuse from the public.
And finally, Global Post reporter Will Carless takes us to Latin America on the trail of priests who fled the U.S. after being accused of sexually abusing children.
Note: This episode contains graphic content related to child sexual abuse.
EXCLUSIVE: Teacher accused of abusing 52 boys now lives in Salt Lake
By Keoki Kerr
SALT LAKE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) –
A longtime Catholic school teacher accused of molesting dozens of boys in three states for decades is living on Oahu, but his name and those of priests accused of sexual misconduct are not listed in the state’s sex offender registry.
Catholic schoolteacher brother Edward Courtney is accused of sexually abusing more than 50 boys from New York to Chicago to Seattle over three decades.
“Sadly, while bad, it’s not alone. There are other priests who have molested hundreds of kids,” said Michael Pfau, a Seattle-based attorney who has represented hundreds of alleged victims of Catholic clergy and teachers, including 52 men in the Courtney case.
In 2013, Courtney, 81, moved to Oahu and now lives in an apartment on Likini Street in Salt Lake.
But you won’t find Courtney’s name or that of any priests accused of sexual molestation in Hawaii’s Sexual Offender Registry, because they were never convicted of a crime.
“Because the criminal statute of limitations expired for most of these sex crimes, very very few Catholic priests, brothers and other clerics went to jail,” said Pfau, who represented 52 men who sued Courtney, claiming he abused them when they were children.
Joelle Casteix, the western regional director of The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said, “If someone who molested 50 kids moved in next door to me, I wouldn’t care if he was in a wheelchair. I certainly would want to know.”
An advocate for people sexually abused by priests, Casteix said the Catholic Church in Hawaii needs to join 30 other dioceses across the country and release a list of accused and admitted predator priests and teachers.
“Just because these men are older does not mean they stop abusing, does not mean they stop grooming kids and does not mean they’re not committing crimes right now,” Casteix said. “He’s living in Hawaii unsupervised, unmonitored, and we know that there are at least 50 allegations against him. But no one in Hawaii knew.”
The Catholic Diocese of Honolulu released a statement that said, “The names of accused priests are already available to the public through the complaints that were filed in court, which are public record. Hawaii News Now also published these names in a story that was done on February 3. Whether the Diocese of Honolulu will formally publish these names again once mediations are completed has not been decided. Right now, our focus remains on working with the victims to provide compassionate resolution through active mediation.”
In another case, people in the McCully neighborhood probably don’t know that a retired Catholic school official accused of sexual abuse by a former student lives on Kalakaua Avenue.
Brother Robert Christensen, the one-time dean of students at Damien Memorial School in the 1980s, is the target of an abuse lawsuit. A former Damien student said Christensen would have him strip naked and then strike him all over his body, including his genitals. The former student claimed the abuse happened over a three- to four-year period.
Father George DeCosta , accused by three men of sexually abusing them when they were students at Damien decades ago, lives in the Volcano area on the Big Island. In a lawsuit, one of the men said DeCosta provided him and another student with alcohol and forced them to go skinny dipping. The former student claimed he became “incapacitated” and when he woke up DeCosta was “masturbating” him and fondling his testicles. DeCosta, who is 78, has denied the allegations.
A mediation process for 40 Hawaii lawsuits brought against the Catholic Church and some Catholic schools by 63 plaintiffs is coming to a close. Sources said settlements in the cases are expected cost the church and schools more than $20 million.
Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.
Bishop Ronald Mulkearns admits not dealing with pedophile priests properly and wanting to protect church’s reputation
Bishop Ronald Mulkearns admits not dealing with pedophile priests properly and wanting to protect church’s reputation
February 24, 2016 10:30pm
Sean Brady says abuse kept secret to save church’s ‘good name’
Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 13:22 Updated: Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 13:28
Former Catholic primate faced criticism over role in meeting Smyth victims
Clerics involved in investigating child sex abuse were bound to secrecy so the Catholic church’s “good name” could be protected, Cardinal Sean Brady has claimed.
He said: “These were unspeakable crimes.
“There was a confidentiality resting upon us too.”
The senior cleric faced fierce criticism after it emerged he had attended meetings where two teenage victims of paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth were sworn to secrecy in 1975.
Never handed over
Their evidence was never handed over to police, allowing the west Belfast churchman to continue abusing children before he was finally jailed in 1994.
He added: “There was a shroud of secrecy and confidentiality with a view not to destroying the good name of the church.
“The scandal that somebody who was ordained to serve people should so abuse the trust for their own pleasure was appalling and it was.
“To offset that, the scandal was kept a secret — very, very secret.
“Everybody involved would be bound to secrecy too.”
The evidence from Smyth’s victims was never handed over to police, allowing the west Belfast churchman to continue abusing children before he was finally jailed in 1994.
On reflection, the Cardinal conceded the secret church inquisition would have been intimidating for a 14-year-old and that some of the 30 questions posed were “inappropriate”.
He said he was motivated by an anxiety to stop the sex offender but acknowledged that little or no consideration was given to the impact on the victims — instead the focus was on the offending priest.
The Cardinal said: “I have reflected a lot on this. The reasons for such an inquiry would be to assess the impact of the scandal — the scandal being the unspeakable crime being committed against a minor — was to see how that affected their (Smyth’s) own life, a life of faith and morals.”
Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart is leading the HIA inquiry, one of the UK’s largest inquiries into physical, sexual and emotional harm to children at homes run by the church, state and voluntary organisations.
One week was set aside to deal with the activities of Smyth and to examine whether systemic failings allowed him to get away with his crimes for so long.
The serial child molester frequented Catholic residential homes and groomed children in family settings after befriending their parents.
Instead of reporting him to the civic authorities Smyth was moved between parishes, countries and even continents where he continued to target children. The only sanctions imposed were temporary bans on hearing confessions and celebrating mass.
Although he has publicly apologised for the church’s mishandling of the sexual deviant, Cardinal Brady has defended his own role in the 1975 internal investigation claiming that, as a priest he had no authority over Smyth.
On Wednesday the inquiry heard that gardaí in Dublin knew about Smyth’s paedophilia as far back as 1973.
Fr William Fitzgerald, head of the Norbertine order to which Smyth belonged, also told the panel that the west Belfast priest’s poisonous legacy had effectively ruined them.
Earlier it was revealed Smyth had told a doctor in 1994 that the number of victims he sexually assaulted could run into the hundreds.
Smyth’s abuse has already been described by a number of witnesses who have previously given evidence to the inquiry.
This week’s module has been concentrating on an examination of what opportunities there were to prevent him carrying out the abuse of children and whether any action, or inaction, amounted to systemic failings.
The inquiry was formally established in January 2013 by the Northern IrelandExecutive.