More victims come forward alleging they were sexually abused by former NJ church pastor
The Archdiocese of Newark confirms Father Mitch Walters was removed from ministry last October after 2 others made similar claims
Reported by Mike Delgado
July 3, 2016 6:05 pm
From the Link: http://www.fios1news.com/newjersey/priest-accused-of-rape-montclair#.V5EedygrKM_
More victims are coming forward claiming they were abused at the hands of a Catholic priest in new Jersey.
“He molested me on two occasions. He fondled me on by buttocks and breast outside my clothes. I was also subject to years of predatory grooming by him,” Danielle Polemeni, said.
The former upper Montclair native is the latest to speak up, alleging her former church pastor, Father Mitch Walters sexually abused her when she was only 13.
“I had been processing my abuse from Father Mitch for many years. I didn’t feel like I would be ready to come forward myself.”
The Archdiocese of Newark confirms Walters was removed from ministry last October after two others made similar claims.
Ultimately, the victims want Father Walters removed from priesthood.
However, an archdiocese of Newark spokesman says they don’t have enough evidence to make that call because they say the victims are not coming to them directly to tell their stories.
But Dr. Hoatson argues that’s nonsense as the diocese already had Father Walters step down from the ministry when the allegations first surfaced.
Danielle and others are taking legal action and she encourages other potential victims to come forward as well.
“I can’t say this enough you do not need to feel guilt or shame anymore,” Polemeni saod.
The Essex County prosecutors is also investigating.
Ex-priest indicted in sexual assault of 15-year-old boy
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on May 25, 2016 at 6:12 PM, updated May 26, 2016 at 10:14 AM
From the Link: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/05/ex-priest_indicted_in_alleged_sexual_assault_of_15.html
A former Union County priest who admitted to NJ Advance Media last year he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday in connection with the attack.
Manuel Gallo Espinoza, 52, fled to his native Ecuador in 2003 after his victim told another priest and a nun that the clergyman raped him in the rectory of a Plainfield church that year.
A criminal investigation at the time quickly went dormant. The investigation was reopened after NJ Advance Media highlighted the victim’s case in a lengthy report in July 2015.
Weeks later, Gallo Espinoza admitted in a telephone interview and in email exchanges with a reporter that he carried out the attack, calling it a “mistake” and blaming his victim for enticing him.
“One thing that I am conscious (of) is he was at that time a teenager, and it is a big mistake for me. But I didn’t force him to do anything he didn’t want,” Gallo Espinoza wrote. “He was older (sic) enough to walk away, but I think that I was attracted to him, that is the only explanation that I can think right now.”
He said he was also depressed because he was away from his home country and that he was drunk at the time of the assault.
Gallo Espinoza remains at large. He is believed to be living in the area of Guayaquil, Ecuador.
In a statement late Wednesday afternoon, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said a grand jury had indicted Gallo Espinoza on two counts of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the second-degree counts.
Gallo Espinoza’s accuser, Max Rojas Ramirez, said the priest raped him in a bedroom of the rectory at St. Mary’s Church in Plainfield shortly before Easter in 2003. Ramirez, now 28 and living in Elizabeth, was an altar boy and a member of the parish’s youth group at the time.
He said Gallo Espinoza attacked him weeks after he told the priest in confession that he was confused about his sexuality. Ramirez has steadfastly denied Gallo Espinoza’s contention that he sought anything more than counsel.
On Wednesday evening, an emotional Ramirez said he was grateful authorities pursued the case anew and obtained the indictment after so many years.
“There are so many things that come to my mind right now,” Ramirez said. “I’m definitely happy he was indicted. This is something that I wished for: to try to bring me closure and for justice being served. I’m happy it’s moving forward.”
NJ Advance Media does not typically name victims of sexual assault. It is doing so in this case with Ramirez’s approval. He has said he wanted to share his story publicly to spur investigators to reopen the case.
At the time of the attack, Gallo Espinoza was a visiting priest of the Archdiocese of Newark. Ramirez filed suit against the archdiocese early last year. The civil case has yet to be resolved.
Ramirez’s attorney, Greg Gianforcaro, said his client has worked hard to expose Gallo Espinoza even as he struggled with the impact the sexual assault had on his life.
“I’m so impressed at Max’s tenacity after 13 years of trying to seek justice, and I think this is a major step forward, not just for justice’s sake, but for trying to heal as well,” Gianforcaro said.
The attorney said the archdiocese should have been more careful in vetting its priests, particularly after the clergy sexual abuse scandal surfaced in 2002.
“One would think the archdiocese would have understood their obligation to protect children like Max from priests like this, especially when this was over a year after the church scandal erupted,” Gianforcaro said. “We’re not talking about someone who was abused in 1972. It was in the news all the time.”
Archbishop John J. Myers suspended Gallo Espinoza from ministry after Ramirez made the allegation. A church review board later found the sex assault claim to be credible. Gallo Espinoza told NJ Advance Media last year he left the priesthood voluntarily after fleeing to Ecuador.
Mark Crawford — the New Jersey director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an advocacy and support group — applauded Ramirez in the wake of the indictment, saying he “never gave up, and for the right reasons.”
“He wants to make sure no one else is hurt by this predator,” said Crawford, who worked with Ramirez to kickstart the investigation. “It is disappointing that it took 13 years, but I’m glad law enforcement has finally acted to vigorously pursue justice in this case. We hope to see him brought back to this country and held accountable for his actions.”
It remains unclear if investigators will be able to return Gallo Espinoza for trial. While Ecuador and the United States do have an extradition treaty, the South American nation is notorious for its resistance to extradition requests from the American government.
The prosecutor’s office asked anyone with information about Gallo Espinoza’s whereabouts to contact Sgt. Patricia Gusmano with the special victims unit at (908) 965-3890.
Union County’s Crime Stoppers program is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest. Tips can be given anonymously by calling 908-654-TIPS (8477), via text message by texting “UCTIP” plus a message to 274637 (CRIMES), or online at www.uctip.org.
Betrayal of Faith
By Cris Foehlinger
Sunday News [Pennsylvania]
January 16, 2005
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA – Patricia Cahill is overcoming a life of abuse and secrecy at the hands of the Catholic church.Her childhood was destroyed by the sexual abuse of a priest and later when she was a teenager by the very nun in whom she confided the abuse.
Through alcohol, drugs and a position of authority, Sister Eileen Shaw determined, in large part, the woman Cahill is today. One with no sexuality and no understanding of normalcy, yet one with a strong drive to right the wrongs of a church that molded her into a quagmire of guilt.
Although the nun’s ministry has since been restricted, Cahill, now 52 and living in Lancaster, is angry at the church for stealing her childhood, her family and her dreams.
She has found support through the nationwide Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. And, in turn, she is trying to focus on the future. Later this week she will launch a support group in Lebanon to help local survivors. (See related story.)
Child of faith
Cahill and her five siblings were born into a wealthy Ridgewood, N.J., family and attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel elementary school. Their father sold cars at his dealership and their mother sold real estate between bottles of vodka, Cahill said.
She said she was in first grade when a priest took her to his bed, the clergyman always wearing pieces of his priestly garb.
“He never took the white collar or stole off,” said Cahill. “He said it was a mortal sin to talk about anything we did while he had them on. Catholics are taught that if you commit a mortal sin you will go to hell.” So Cahill wouldn’t breathe a word of the abuse.
At home, she’d pick up empty liquor bottles before her father’s return from work. “I took over for Mom raising three younger siblings,” said Cahill, whose parents are now deceased.
“I remember cleaning Dad’s bathroom when I was 7. He made a big deal about it and I thought, “Wow!’ ” Craving that kind of positive attention, Cahill set her sights on the rest of the house.
“I was the chief bottle washer and surrogate housewife,” she said. “I was very strict and rigid like my Dad. I demanded a lot of my siblings and I regret that now, but I didn’t know anything else.” Cahill said her father was abusive. He was not an alcoholic, but the disease is a family one. “He would rule with an iron fist and for no reason,” she said, “he would pick out one of the three oldest and send them upstairs for a beating.” Meanwhile, the priest’s abuse continued until she was 13. It stopped because Cahill said, “No.” “I felt 100-percent responsible because all I had to do was say “no,’ ” she said. “I don’t know if his abuse was widespread, but I know of some victims and am looking for others.”
From priest to nun
Although Cahill was able to remove herself from the priest’s grasp, she couldn’t escape the need for the love and support she didn’t get at home.
At age 15, she confided the priest’s abuse in a family friend: the nun.
“She said, “He was a sick man so it wasn’t his fault’,” Cahill recalled. “Looking back, I see a lot of conflict with what she said.” Cahill said Sister Shaw, a member of the Sisters of Charity at Convent Station, N.J., saw that she was in dire need of love and attention. Shaw offered encouragement, spent time with her and told her she was special.
“She took me out of a dysfunctional home and promised me the world,” Cahill said. “She said no one would ever hurt me again.” By age 16, Cahill spent summers at the shore with Shaw and the nun’s family and friends. “All of them were 20 years older than me,” Cahill said. “What were they thinking? Why didn’t they think it was odd?” The sexual advances didn’t start right away, Cahill said.
“She became my mother figure but,” Cahill said with obvious fury, “you don’t sleep with your mother.
“I had kept secrets my whole life. I thought I was a sinner. Then Eileen told me I was. She also said it was my job to keep her vows because I was the stronger of the two of us.” Cahill said she was 15 when Shaw introduced her to alcohol and drugs, namely Valium and Librium.
And Shaw gave Cahill a medallion to wear only when the two were intimate. Cahill calls it her “medal of shame” as she was never to speak about what went on while she wore it.
One night when Cahill was 17, she remembers crying and asking Shaw to let her go. “She should have let me go, but she wouldn’t,” Cahill said.
“She made me call her “Sister Eileen’ in bed and told me that she loved me,” Cahill said.
“No one had ever loved me before.”
Search for justice
That love, however, cost Cahill a chance to have a family and children of her own, she said. Because of internal conflicts caused by the relationship, she said, it cost her a chance to join the Sisters of Charity in her teens.
And it cost Cahill her sexuality. Since she’s been away from Shaw, Cahill said, she has never been attracted to another woman. Because she remembers fear and pain from the priest, she won’t get involved with men.
For her, the guilt and shame blend with anger and bitterness.
Cahill, who is no longer a practicing Catholic, said one of the biggest obstacles to healing is trying to understand why so many nuns turned their heads and allowed the abuse to continue.
Ten years ago Cahill received help from the Sisters of Charity, who did “everything they are legally obligated to do,” according to a recent statement issued by Mother Superior Maureen Shaughnessy.
At the time, Cahill received treatment and about $46,000, Cahill said.
She is seeking additional treatment costs, a request she and members of her support network see as a moral obligation of the church.
Part of her larger mission now is to make sure nuns are punished for abusive actions. Because they are part of a religious order, they are more insulated and protected, Cahill said.
“We (Shaw and Cahill) would sleep in convents up and down the East Coast,” Cahill said. “Nuns would turn their heads when I ran up the back staircases.” Yet the conflict for Cahill remains.
Shaw encouraged her to go to college, something no member of Cahill’s family managed to accomplish. Her first teaching job was at St. Cecelia’s in Kearny, N.J. Shaw was the principal of the now-defunct school.
Shaw gave Cahill a ring during that first year of teaching, one that was identical to one the nun wore. “It never dawned on me what that ring was supposed to mean,” she said. “But it’s pretty clear now.” The nun even selected Cahill’s apartment, one where Shaw’s car could be parked undetected, Cahill said.
“During the day, she was extra authoritative with me in front of other people,” Cahill said. “Away from school, she would tell me not to befriend the other teachers and not to bring my home life into work.” Brief trips were routine.
“One weekend, we went to a convent in Connecticut and got snowed in,” Cahill said. “I think it was a bit obvious when we both didn’t show up for school, but she wouldn’t talk about it.” After a year of teaching under Shaw, Cahill realized she needed to get away and took a job in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. “I really liked teaching and made friends,” she said. “Shaw would still come on weekends, which wasn’t a problem since no one knew her.” By this time, Cahill said she was sick with drugs and alcohol. “I would drink on my way to school,” she said.
Cahill shared an apartment with a friend. “She was very indiscriminate with sex and would entertain men at night,” Cahill said. “After walking in on her one night, she came up with a system where she would put the man’s shoes outside her door to let me know she was with a man.
“So I would leave Shaw’s shoes outside my door and hang her veil on the doorknob,” she said. It’s an image that still haunts Cahill and one that will become the title of her book, “Veiled Threat.” Cahill said the nun thought the roommate’s conduct was immoral. But as Cahill’s questions persisted, Shaw refused to answer or make any sense out of her relationship with Cahill.
“What happened at night, happened at night,” Cahill said. “What happened during the day saved my life.
“She helped me out in lots of ways that I felt indebted to her so much that I kept her secret for too many years.” Cahill viewed everything as her fault. But then her emotional struggle becomes evident and contradictions reemerge.
“She was 36 and I was 15,” Cahill said of their early relationship. “It couldn’t have been my fault.”
Path to peace
By 1979 Cahill sought help through a 12-step program. It cost her any hope of a relationship with her siblings; they felt Cahill betrayed them by airing the family’s laundry, she said.
In her 30s, Cahill again studied to become a member of the Sisters of Charity, Shaw’s order. “I have learned since then that victims almost always return to the scene of the crime,” she said.
Cahill could not complete her quest because of internal conflicts that centered on the relationship with Shaw.
By 1992, Cahill knew she was in trouble and approached the Sisters of Charity for help. “I was very foolish,” she said. “I wanted therapy and nothing else.” Yet she also asked that Shaw be removed from her position as school principal. “They took her out and promoted her,” Cahill said.
Shaw is now the administrator of the Caritas Community in Jersey City, N.J., a retirement home for nuns. Repeated attempts to reach her were unsuccessful. Nuns who answered the phones said Shaw was on “holiday.” Caritas Community is in a convent that sits next to an elementary school.
When recently questioned about Shaw’s duties, Jim Goodness, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., said that the nun “is not allowed in the school.” She does attend Mass in the local parish, but is not part of the spiritual team. She is not involved in parish functions.
“The community has dealt with the issue and she is restricted in her ministry,” he said. “There has never been an incident where she broke her assignment since this came to light.” Goodness clarified that the Sisters of Charity is not officially part of the archdiocese. “But the sisters work in the archdiocese under the spiritual direction of the archbishop,” he said. “Religious communities operate under their own rules and authorities.” This is part of the problem as far as Cahill is concerned. “Priests are defrocked when they are exposed for abuse,” she said. “But there is no punishment for nuns.” Shaughnessy, Sister of Charity’s mother superior, said there was a confidentiality agreement at the time the sisters offered Cahill help. “I’m certainly not going to break that, and I have nothing to say about it.” Shaw has been cleared to serve in her new position, Shaughnessy said recently. “I don’t want to talk about this.” In a letter dated July 1, 1994, the Sisters of Charity agreed to pay for “certain professional services” from July 1, 1994, through June 30, 1996.
“In order to qualify for payment by the Sisters of Charity, the services: (a) must have been provided by a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker, and (b) must, in the provider’s professional judgment, have been made necessary by the alleged inappropriate conduct of a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, who is alleged to have had sexual contact with Patricia Cahill at various times between the years 1968 and 1992,” the letter states.
The letter goes on to say that all charges must be included on an invoice mailed to Sister Mary Canavan, general superior, in an envelope marked “personal and confidential.” “The Sisters of Charity consider this letter and the information contained herein to be confidential,” the letter, signed by Canavan, states.
“I never healed because they made me sign a gag order not to talk about it,” said Cahill, who is now recovering from alcohol and drug addictions.
She moved to Lancaster in 1997 to get away from her family and Shaw.
She thought about suicide. Reaching rock bottom, she again turned to the nuns she had grown up with.
By this time, the order had established a response team, made up of nuns, priests, lawyers and psychologists.
Shaughnessy encouraged Cahill to meet with them. She agreed.
Lancaster friend Donna Wilcox accompanied her to the session held at the Mother House in New Jersey. While the two were greeted cordially, Wilcox said, “The building was imposing and it was dark and empty. The surroundings felt very big and I felt very small.” Cahill wasn’t intimidated by the familiar atmosphere. But at the meeting there with two lawyers and two therapists, she said, ” “I feel like I need a lawyer,’ and they said, “No dear, we’re here for your healing.”‘ Cahill described the exhausting 3-hour session as “interrogation with a smile.” “I was impressed by one nun who seemed compassionate,” Wilcox said. “Patricia was so articulate and focused while my composure was gone. When you hear her story, it’s very humbling.
“They seemed caring and supportive,” Wilcox said. “I left thinking help was on the way.” Two weeks later Cahill received word that there would be no further therapy from the sisters, but “we will pray for you.” That’s all it took.
The anger that roared through Cahill catapulted her on the road to healing.
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
THE EXECUTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Part Three The Victims
by Kobutsu Malone
From the Link: http://www.bergencatholicabuse.com/
Following are some of the letters I have received to date. Most of these have been redacted and *names changed* to maintain confidentiality. Each redacted letter was edited and approved by the individual correspondent prior to posting. All correspondence received concerning this matter is held in strict confidence.
The First Letter:
From Thomas Schwarz – BC ’66
January 5, 2009 9:51:13 PM EST
Dear Kobutsu Malone,
I feel as though I am at the beginning of a long, rough, perilous, unclear trail. I hope that you can help me, and perhaps I might be able to help you.
I graduated from Bergen Catholic in 1966. Memories of my four years at B.C. have never been pleasant. As I have grown older it seems those memories come more often. Because I am contacting you I suspect that you realize already that I, too, endured abuse at B.C. I recently began Googling all the word and name combinations I could think of to let the internet retrieve information for me, but alas I have come away almost empty-handed — except for your short piece on engaged-zen.org. [A precursor to this bergencatholicabuse.com website] Your description of the Irwin brothers behavior was stunningly accurate. (Sentences redacted)
Finally, my own recollections of beatings I suffered while being “jugged” involved Bro. John P. Seibert.
Why are there no other mentions on the internet of these events? Are we the only men who recall such incidents? Are they figments of our collective imaginations? I doubt it.
I would be most appreciative if we could share information and perhaps make a collective, concerted effort to unearth and explain those sordid events.
I look forward to hearing from you.
|Brother John Peter Seibert|
January 5, 2009 10:34:01 PM EST
I am very glad we had the opportunity to speak earlier. You are the only person I know of so far who can corroborate what I wrote about Charlie Irwin’s behavior.
Would you be willing to write about your experiences with Irwin’s behavior? Would you be willing to publish it on the internet next to my account?
There were some 30 odd kids in my class room. Irwin taught perhaps five different classes a day, that means 150 kids a day could have been exposed to him perhaps 180 times a year. I have no idea how many years he was at BC, where he was before BC or even when/if he left BC. I was told by the order attorney in 2003 that Charlie Irwin had been dead for five years (1998?). His younger brother Tommy Irwin is still teaching at BC as far as I know.
That man did not just adopt his behavior only in Room 34 in 1964, everybody in that school was terrified of Irwin. Other students who had him in different classes reported the same kind of treatment. Irwin potentially terrorized and induced traumatic stress to many thousands of young people over the years.
I do not know if he was ever “exposed” or if anyone ever filed any sort of formal complaint against him, that information is hardly going to be made readily available through the alumni association or the order. I would like to hear that at some point someone in authority stepped in and took him away from teaching high school kids.
Back in ’65 I did not know the meaning of “sociopath,” now I do. Irwin was himself mentally ill and in need of supervision and care. I do not know if he ever got any care for his afflictions.
There have got to be others out there who might be willing to share their experiences if enough of us come forward. I don’t know where it all might lead, but I sense that us being in contact has something to do with us both healing. There have to be others out there with stories to tell, many may have never even realized what we were put through. Reading what two of us have written might serve to motivate others to come forward.
Telling our stories is vital to heal ourselves, motivate others, correct injustice and set the record straight.
From another man:
On Mar 19, 2009, at 11:36 AM, *Pete* wrote:
I just finished reading your article re Brother Irwin. I am speechless. I am catching my breath. I graduated from BC in 1966 (attended 1962-66) and thus was there when you were there and had much “exposure” to Irwin. My stomach is in a knot. Your description was so incredibly accurate and it instantly shot me back to those days. I am speechless. I think I want to thank you. I think I want to forget. But I think it isn’t right to just forget.
Have you heard from others?
On March 19, 2009 11:42:46 AM EDT
I responded to *Pete* and told him I had heard from others. I sent him my phone number.
On March 19, 2009 2:22:43 PM EDT *Pete* wrote:
What rapid responses! I appreciate your responses and your phone number. It is a gloomy day here and my spirits are darkened by thoughts of Irwin and the other BC nightmares. I have asked myself often why it is that I do not feel much affection for my high school days. I always attributed that lack of nostalgia to the fact that it was an all-male institution and the fact that it was a catholic school and I have become quite non-catholic. But I realize it is also issues such as this that compromise fondness for those days of youth.
Given that there have been two recent deaths in my family and that I am struggling in the process of healing and given that this realization about Irwin and his colleagues in crime is bringing me down, I am going to let this go for now.
I greatly appreciate your article and your bravery. I have your contact information and hopefully we can talk about better things someday. Meanwhile, I wish you a very wonderful life. From what I can see, you have been having one.
From a third man:
On Dec 19, 2009, at 11:36 AM, *Jack* wrote:
“I found your site and was at BC around the same time as you. You mentioned ‘for all I know Irwin is long dead’ and another alumnus clipped this from The Record in 1999 and sent it to me and for whatever reason I tucked it into the yearbook pages and so still have it.”
The summary of the obituary is as follows:
Charles B. Irwin
Born: Jan. 28, 1928 – Mount Vernon, NY
Graduated Iona Preparatory School, New Rochelle
Entered Congregation of Christian Brothers July 1, 1945
Professed First Vows September 8, 1946
Professed Final Vows September 8, 1953
Fordham University – BA Education 1953
St. John’s University – MA History 1956
Charles B. Irwin taught at the following institutions:
- St. Joseph’s Juniorate, West Park, NY
- Santa Maria Novitiate-Novice, West Park, NY
- St. Gabriel’s Scholasticate-Student, West Park, NY
- Sacred Heart Community and Grammar School, New York, NY
- Cardinal Hayes-Holy Family Community, Bronx, NY
- Cardinal Hayes-St. Helena’s Annex, Bronx, NY
- Cardinal Hayes Community and High School, Bronx, NY
- Power Memorial Community and Academy, New York, NY
- Leo Community and High School, Chicago, IL
- Bergen Catholic Community and High School, Oradell, NJ
- St. Patrick’s Provincialate Community, New Rochelle, NY
- Iona Prep, New Rochelle, NY 1979 – 1991 [Retired]
Died: October 9, 1997 – New Rochelle, NY
An anonymous individual with Photoshop skills offers some “psychological” advice:
Date: January 17, 2010 6:33:09 AM EST
Subject: Your site regarding an Irish Christian Brother
A Letter of Support:
On February 19, 2010 7:15:35 PM EST
Dear Rev. Kobutsu Malone,
After reading a report by Ireland’s Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse which came out in 2009, I was shocked at the accounts of many of the surviving men and women who gave accurate details of emotional, physical and sexual abuse at mainly the hands of the Irish Christian Brothers and nuns who ran the Reformatory and Industrial Schools where many of these surviving victims were brought to live at a very young age. I was very affected by their accounts and one school in particular was mentioned as being “a living hell”-it was called Artane. When I read the accounts of the boys who lived there from the 1930’s to the 1960’s I was emotionally wounded for them. I cried a lot because I could not believe how much they suffered at the hands of not only the Brothers but any adult who was affiliated with the place in one form or another.
What was even more disturbing was how the government, local police, residents and family members did very little to investigate when some of the boys, at the time, turned to them for help. I can honestly say that I am not shocked however at the reaction of the Catholic Church then and now, for decades it has done “absolutely nothing” to protect the victims but everything to protect the abusers.
I came across an article you wrote, ‘The Execution of the Holy Spirit’ regarding your experience at Bergen Catholic with a Brother Irwin and a Brother Howe – first of all they do not deserve to be called brothers, they deserve to be recognized as “pedophile” and “sociopath” Irwin and “pedophile” and “sociopath” Howe and I hope that all of those young men who they tried to break realize that they are not victims rather “brave” boys and now “brave” men who did absolutely nothing wrong but everything right. The fault, as we all know, lies in the hands of those evil, cowardly fools!
I too suffered at the hands of abuse as a child, the hands of my father who physically and mentally abused me and it took me years to realize that I had nothing to do with his cruel actions-it was his issue not mine. I was compelled to write to you because I wanted to thank you for reaching out to all those wonderful men who related to your experience at Bergen and for reiterating that what happened to you and to them is “not your fault.” I believe it is good for them to hear this and to realize that no matter how hard it is to remember, it should be talked about and not repressed. They have nothing to be embarrassed of and neither do you.
I hope you continue to reach out to those who have had similar experiences at Bergen and someday fight to be heard as they are doing in Ireland, for your sake and for the sake of any future, potential victims. The Catholic Church needs to continued to be challenged until they completely take actions to rid the evil souls that still hide behind their doors.
Kobutsu please remember that you and those other individual are not victims of abuse rather survivors of abuse! 🙂
From yet another man:
On April 2, 2010, at 1:13:40 PM EDT *Ralph* wrote:
I was a couple of years ahead of you 62-65, and transferred to Xxxxxxx H.S. for my senior year. I had Irwin of course for algebra, I have a vivid memory of his running his hand down the back of my pants, down the crack of my ass, and then watching him sniffing his finger as he sat at his desk. I don’t have a clear memory of how many times he had his hands on me. There were others he liked more – egads, I especially remember a kid with long blond hair, Elvis style, he was Irwin’s favorite in my class. I’m reflecting on thinking how lucky I was that he enjoyed abusing/torturing others more than me – geeze, that is sick. There was another brother, who was also talked about, who I seem to remember left the school in the middle of the year of 1962.
Somehow once I ended up under that guy’s arm, and he escorted me into the boys locker room, but kids were there, and somehow, I got away. Never went near him again, his name started with and M or W and sounded maybe polish. After he left there was just brother Irwin to worry about.
I don’t remember his rage especially, there was a lot of that rage, odd for such a vocation? There was a Brother Ryan? who would make us take off our pants in the halls with our shoes on, if we couldn’t he would beat the shit out of you. Another lasting memory, was the brother’s seeming obliviousness to bullies. I remember a kid named Xxxxxxx from Fort Lee, New Jersey – his favorite recreation between class, at lunch or gym was picking on littler, more timid kids. It was constant and of course there were other bullies, and the brothers turned a blind side to all of that too. It’s Kafkaesque, no?
So you’re a Malone, and then you took a Zen first name? I am still a practicing Catholic, attend mass etc, despite the current/new scandals reaching to touch the Pope. Most Catholics I know have little to no respect for the Magisterium in all its majesty and hypocrisy.
“I have a vivid memory of his running his hand down the back of my pants, down the crack of my ass, and then watching him sniffing his finger as he sat at his desk.”
Charles “The Chest” Irwin greets prom attendees 1965.
And another man:
On October 22, 2010, at 12:52:18 PM EDT *Sam* wrote:
Just found your web site. I was searching for pictures of BC to show my wife. I have a similar story not of any sexual abuse but definitely physical abuse. I graduated from the class of ‘70 and rode the Fort Lee bus. Yes, that bus. I remember the bullies who picked on us very well and had a few fist fights with them myself.
The school principal was expelled as I remember and a new principal took over. I believe the principal was expelled for physical and verbal abuse.
Yes, we had brothers who were in hiding. Some were obviously sexually confused and some not so obvious. We had one brother who was referred to as Sister Mary by some of the students. I will not use his name but I remember him well . He had a mean streak and liked to slap you in the face. We also had brothers who would punch you and knock you down for chewing gum in the hall.
My brother also had the misfortune of going to BC but failed out in his freshman year. There was a Brother who was a coach there and he was cruel to my little brother.
I did not want to dissapoint my Mother so I hung in there and took the abuse. It wasn’t a healthy atmosphere for kids that already had issues. It was certainly not nurturing. My brother did well in public school and enjoyed his high school years.
Brother Howe, I remember him well but not as a sexual abuser. He was just a bully . He enjoyed it and I had many fights with him in class. Mostly he would throw erasers at me . He was surprised when I threw them back at him. I wouldn’t take his crap.
We had a history teacher. His name was Mr. Darts. Mr. Darts was a nice man who took me out in the hall one day and spoke with me as a mentor. He knew I was having problems and suggested that if I didn’t want to be there I should talk to my parents. I have never forgotten him. His were the kindest words I had ever had at BC. Thankyou Mr. John Darts.
The Infamous Fort Lee Bus. I hated it but learned to defend myself. We had two upper classman who were big bullies. I only can remember their faces. They were football players and wore their BC jackets. I only wish they were in front of me now as an adult!
Send your boys to a good public school.
Here’s a memory for you and as crazy as it sounds it is 100% true.
I had a Jesuit for some religion class. He was talking about masturbation and the dropping of the seed intentionally. Did you know that is a mortal sin and you can go to hell for that? Well being defiant I asked him what would happen if it happen unintentionally, like while you were sleeping. What happens then if you die? Do you go to hell or only purgatory? Well the stuff hit the fan. I was told to go to the office. They sent me home with a letter recommending I leave the school. Guess the tuition was more valuable because my mother’s letter saved me.
What a bunch of sick people. I feel sorry for them and forgive them their sins. God only knows what they went through as young men entering the seminary. Forgiveness is the best lesson I have learned in life and it wasn’t taught to me at BC.
If you can pass my email along to the person who rode the Fort Lee bus I would appreciate it.
PS. I did not go on stage to accept my diploma at graduation. As an act of defiance I sat in the stands without a cap and gown. It was a great dissapointment to my Mother who could never understand. Sorry Mom.
Brother Michael McElhatton
A.K.A. “Sister Mary”
And another man:
On November 29, 2010, at 6:01 PM EDT *Karl* wrote:
I was in the class of 1971.
Fortunately, I never had the horrendous experiences you mentioned with Br Irwin and Br Howe, but I remember them both and am not at all surprised. Br Smith was a religion teacher that gave me a slap across the face that left a handprint for a few minutes. He was clearly effeminate, but was intolerant of anything but undivided attention. I had great experiences with all the lay teachers. Mr Stevenson in particular was the chess team coach. My guidance counselor was also the basketball coach (Dougherty?) and he was also very helpful. I got a great education at BC, but it is disgusting what the Catholic Church allowed to happen.
Brother Joseph Smith
On March 25, 2011, at 3:57 PM EDT *Jerome* wrote:
I just read your story about Brs. Irwin and Howe. I was a member of a late 60’s graduating class. I remember Charlie Irwin. We all knew he was a “fag” as we called him them. He did not sexually bother me but I do recall him putting his hand down boys shirts. I never saw the pants action. There were a number of homosexual brothers back then. Maybe because I came a few years after you, I (we) knew a little more about them. I know “Sister Mary” as one writer mentioned. There were plenty of mean ones too. Br. Howe was nasty as were others. I did not take their crap. As a matter of fact, I do believe I slapped Br. Fish after he slapped me one day.
Another guy mentioned the Fort Lee bus. I was on the same bus at that time. The bullies were in full force on that ride. I was picked on in school. I was skinny and not a jock. Fortunately, I always had a way with words and gave it right back. I remember one guy bothering me and I punched him in the face. Of course, he was twice my size and picked me up and threw me across a row or two of desks. But that was the end of it. I did not take the bullies crap either.
On June 7, 2011, this letter was received from *Greg* at 10:40:55 AM EDT:
I was reading an editorial in this past Sunday’s New York Times by Maureen Dowd in reference to a Bishop in Ireland, who among other things, got down on his knees and washed the feet of sexual abuse victims at a mass in Dublin. The editorial went on to say how his papal colleagues in the Vatican did not look upon the Irish Bishop favorably.
The editorial brought out the old anger of 40 years ago and I did something that I have resisted for decades. I goggled Bergen Catholic sexual abuse and your article came up. As I began to read my first impression was that I had written this in some trance-like state. When I showed your article to my wife she asked if I had written it. First I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to bring out these things that many of us have tried to bury over the years.
My own experience begins with attending Xxxxxxxxxx grammar school in Xxxxxxxxx, NJ. I had gone to public school and had many happy years but my three older brothers had graduated from a Jesuit College and in my young mind I thought going to BC would give me a leg up on doing the same. From sixth thru eighth grade Brothers taught me. As with you, the terror was on a daily basis. Being slapped and hit was common but the worst for me was having to come to the front of the room and having your hand held while you were beaten with a steel ruler. I learned early that tears might diminish the amount of hits and so for me, the tears came quickly. My other recollection was to see some of my tougher friends hold out tears and piss the brothers off and receive many more hits.
Seeing your picture and knowing the dates that you attended Bergen Catholic I know I was there the same year and I am fairly sure that I was in the same algebra class with Irwin. I have forgotten most of my year at Bergen Catholic but the hell of a Brother Irwin algebra class will always be locked in my memory. I remember that his class came early in the day and that once we had gotten thru that part of our day, I personally felt a great sense of relief.
Looking back on that class I felt like that out of a class of say thirty boys, (I was maybe 5’4″ 105 lbs.) Brother Irwin gave me more heinous attention than other, bigger kids. This, coupled with a strong dislike of Math, was almost a death sentence in his class. Don’t get me wrong, everyone suffered and lived in utter fear in that class, but there were about ten that maybe fit his victims’ profile.
I do remember him marching up and down rows with his pointer and for someone like myself, who did not always do his daily homework, trying to guess when he would call on me and quickly trying to work out that problem only to have him skip a person and not know the answer when he circled back and called on me. I did not remember many of his little sick quirks that you mentioned because I kept my head down giving him no eye contact for fear of repercussions.
This is where my story gets a little more intense. A fellow classmate and I were caught cheating by Brother Irwin on the end of year Algebra final. Whether we had crib sheets that we were using or were verbally exchanging answers I don’t remember, but we were requested individually to see Brother Irwin at the end of the day. I entered his classroom at the end of the day, Irwin was seated behind the desk and he said, “I got you Mr. Xxxxxxxxx, I know you cheated, and I can fail you for the year.” I denied cheating and he continued to accuse. At one point he came from behind the desk and approached me. He did his usual neck pressure points and as I was standing there he reached down the rear of my pants. As I stood there, he took his hands and came around to my genital area. At this point I stepped back and summoned some courage and gave him a look like – “this ends now.” He stepped back and did his usual “cretin” and “retard” routine and told me after an awkward moment to leave.
I left that classroom knowing that I would never return to Bergen Catholic and it gave me a great sense of relief. I never mentioned the incident to my parents and thankfully they let me transfer to public school. The coward must have known that he might need to cover his tracks as I was given a “C.”
Over the years, I have always been thankful that I stepped back that day but I have always thought of how many other kids who fit his sick profile were put in a position were they did not have that option. There has never been any doubt in my mind that Brother Irwin, if given the right circumstance, would rape and abuse one of us. I have always wondered about the other boy who was caught cheating with me. How was he treated? He fit the same physical profile as me.
Again thank you for your initial essay as it gave me the courage, as a soon to be 61 year-old man, to express these long suppressed feelings.
“At one point he came from behind the desk and approached me. He did his usual neck pressure points and as I was standing there he reached down the rear of my pants. As I stood there, he took his hands and came around to my genital area. At this point I stepped back and summoned some courage and gave him a look like – ‘this ends now.’ He stepped back and did his usual ‘cretin’ and ‘retard’ routine and told me after an awkward moment to leave.”
On August 2, 2011 4:33:20 PM EDT *Chuck* wrote:
You were sexually abused by Brother Irwin at Bergen Catholic. I was physically abused.
I lost my algebra book (actually stolen from my locker) and Brother Irwin told me to get another one. My family did not have the money to buy a new one.
On the afternoon of Tuesday October 16, 1962 (I know this because I was removed from Bergen Catholic by my parents after this incident) Brother Irwin came down the aisle and stood towering over me at my desk. He flipped the book open and saw another student’s name, Xxxx Xxxxxx, inside the cover. He made me go to the back of the room and bent me over a desk. He was known for lifting boy’s shirts and taking three fingers together and snapping them across the exposed flesh. Before he started he said he knew something better. He took a belt from another student, Xxxxx Xxxx, and started to whip me. Forty lashes with that belt. Forty really hard lashes. Nothing like I ever experienced in my life, before and ever since. Beyond pain.
Some of the students tried to come to my aid but he threatened them all that if they did anything they would get the same. You could get all their names by going to the 1962 Algebra class records and ask each of them. They were totally intimidated by him.
After he finished beating me (I was a complete mess, crying and almost unable to walk) he made me stand up and said, Mr. Xxxxxx, you didn’t seem to like your punishment. Would you rather have had a month’s worth of detentions? I nodded “yes” and he said, “You got it” and started to write them out. Xxxxx Xxxx and several other classmates protested, it felt as if a riot was going to break out but I couldn’t care less. I was beyond pain. He stopped writing and told everyone to sit at their desks and be quiet. I lay with my head on my desk, crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried. The bell at the end of the period rang. We stayed in that classroom as the teachers rotated classes.
Brother O’Sullivan was the next teacher and came in and walked up to my desk and asked what happened. I couldn’t speak but one of the students told him what happened. He left the room and came back five minutes or so later and told everyone to read quietly. After that class, several students helped me get to the bus. I still was crying uncontrollably and it took me all the way home to finally control the crying.
We lived down the street from Xxxxxxxxx Church and Father Xxxxxxxx came to the house. His response was that “*Chuck* must have done something to deserve this”. My parents had me stay home the next day and on Thursday my father took off from work and took me to Bergen Catholic and confronted Brother Kean the principal and demanded that Brother Irwin come to the office. When Brother Irwin came in my father took his belt off and tried to go after Brother Irwin but was physically restrained by Brother Kean.
I was taken out of school and started at Xxxxxxxxxx High School the next Monday.
My life was never the same.
“He took a belt from another student, Xxxxx Xxxx, and started to whip me. Forty lashes with that belt. Forty really hard lashes. Nothing like I ever experienced in my life, before and ever since. Beyond pain.”
“My parents had me stay home the next day and on Thursday my father took off from work and took me to Bergen Catholic and confronted Brother Kean the principal and demanded that Brother Irwin come to the office. When Brother Irwin came in my father took his belt off and tried to go after Brother Irwin but was physically restrained by Brother Kean.”
“My life was never the same.”
|Br. Alfred X. Kean
A.K.A. “The Axe”
|Br. Charles B. Irwin
A.K.A. “The Chest”
Another man writes:
On Aug 3, 2011, at 12:36 PM, *Dennis* wrote:
Physical and verbal abuse was so common in Catholic Schools, but *Chuck’s* account here is the most intense I ever read or heard about other than in some novel or movie.
I went to Cardinal Hayes High School. In my freshman year (1965) the most severe abuse I witnessed was during announcements at the end of one spring day. A classmate was chatting away and was spotted by one of the priest teachers from the hallway. The priest came running in, grabbed the student out of his seat, carried / dragged him to the front of the room and smashed him face first into the blackboard. The priest then threatened to do the same to any of the rest of us. The kid was terrified, traumatized – his parents eventually removed him from the school.
Cardinal Hayes High School, Bronx, New York
THE EXECUTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Part Two Afterword
by Kobutsu Malone
From the Link: http://www.bergencatholicabuse.com/
The above essay originally comprised a letter that I wrote and sent out to the following, people / institutions on January 20, 2002:
The Most Reverend John J. Myers – Fifth Archbishop of Newark – NO RESPONSE
John J. Myers
Brian Walsh Irish Christian Brother’s Provincial New Rochelle, NY – NO RESPONSE
Bergen Catholic High School, Oradell Avenue, Oradell, NJ – NO RESPONSE
My father; Kevin B. Malone, Mahwah, NJ – NO RESPONSE
Oradell, NJ Police Department. via email [Official acknowledgement click here.]
This essay was put up on the web in 2004 and drew no commentary until early January 2009. I was quite surprised to receive an email from Mr. Thomas Schwarz, a man who was also a student in Bergen Catholic during my tenure. Since then, I have been contacted by quite a number of BC alumni, (30+) many relating the same sort of experience I had; reading or hearing about clergy abuse in the news and looking on the internet to see if anything was written about Bergen Catholic. Many of the men contacting me asked about specific teachers from that period. To help jog people’s memories, here are some pages scanned in from the 1965 Bergen Catholic Crusader Yearbook:
|Click here for the 1964 faculty photos|
|Click here for 1964 Homeroom 34 photos|
Bergen Catholic Faculty – 1964
|Mr. Dominick L. Albamonte
Br. John B. Chaney
Mrs. J. Warren Chapman
Br. Richard L. Connelly
Mr. John R. Courtney
Mr. Christopher J. Donfield
Br. John E. Dornbos
Br. John L. Gilchrist
Mrs. Walter V. Gilles
Br. Patrick A. Gleeson
Br. James G. Glos
Dr. Robert B. Gorman
Mr. Donald J. Gunther
|Br. Ronald A. Howe
Br. Charles B. Irwin
Mr. Thomas W. Irwin
Br. Alfred X. Kean
Br. Gerald M. King
Mr. P. Kieth Krayer
Mr. Victor L. Liggio
Br. Anton J. Lips
Mr. John B. Maazziotta
Br. Michael S. McElhatton
Br. Patrick G. McPadden
Mr. Salvatore V. Montagna
Mr. Patrick Murphy
|Mr. Thomas M. Murray
Mr. James J. Obrotka
Mr. Michael A. Picciallo
Mr. Ralph J. Pinto
Mr. William J. Rollins
Br. Jerome A. Shannon
Br. Joseph S. Smith
Mr. James E. Sokoloski
Br. James B. Walsh
Br. Robert P. Walsh
Mr. E. L. Williams
Priest admits violating ban on ministry to children, says actions are ‘my fault alone’
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on May 04, 2013 at 6:45 AM, updated May 04, 2013 at 9:30 AM
Asserting his actions were “my fault alone,” the Roman Catholic priest who violated a court-sanctioned agreement to stay away from children wrote in his resignation letter that he attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors without the knowledge of his superiors in the Archdiocese of Newark.
The Rev. Michael Fugee — who was removed from ministry Thursday, four days after The Star-Ledger disclosed his association with a Monmouth County youth group — specifically noted in the letter that Archbishop John J. Myers did not grant him permission to minister to children.
“In conscience, I feel it necessary to make clear to all that my actions described in recent news stories were outside of my assigned ministry within the archdiocese,” Fugee wrote. “… My failure to request the required permissions to engage in those ministry activities is my fault, my fault alone.”
The archdiocese released the full text of Fugee’s letter yesterday in an apparent effort to quell a public uproar over Myers’ handling of the priest, who signed the agreement with law enforcement in 2007 to avoid retrial on charges he fondled a teenage boy.
For days after The Star-Ledger’s report, a spokesman for the archbishop insisted Fugee’s interactions with children were within the scope of the agreement, arguing he was under the supervision of lay ministers and other priests.
But amid mounting public pressure, calls by elected officials for Myers to resign and a criminal investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the archdiocese reversed course Thursday, acknowledging Fugee violated the agreement and saying he acted alone.
Myers’ spokesman, Jim Goodness, reiterated that stance in a statement yesterday.
“The archdiocese only learned about two weeks ago when approached by a reporter that Fr. Fugee had engaged in other activities or ministries,” Goodness said. “Had the archdiocese known about them at the time, permission to undertake them would not have been granted.”
Myers immediately approved Fugee’s request to leave ministry Thursday. Fugee remains a priest of the archdiocese but may not wear clerical clothing, say Mass or engage in other sacramental activities.
It was unclear if he or Myers will move for laicization, the process through which one is removed from the priesthood altogether. Beyond the statement he issued, Goodness declined to answer questions yesterday.
In his letter to Myers, Fugee requested removal from ministry “for the good of the church and for my peace.” He also offered an apology.
“I am sorry that my actions have caused pain to my church and to her people,” he wrote.
For the past several years, Fugee has openly been involved with the youth group at St. Mary’s Church in Colts Neck, where he is longtime friends with the youth ministers.
Fugee, 52, has attended youth retreats at the Kateri Environmental Center in Marlboro and at a sprawling home owned by an order of nuns along Lake Hopatcong, both in other dioceses. The bishops of Trenton and Paterson have since said Fugee did not request the required permission before working in their dioceses.
Fugee also traveled several times with members of the St. Mary’s youth group on an annual pilgrimage to St. Anne Beaupre, a shrine in Quebec.
Members of St. Mary’s parish have expressed outrage, saying they were not told about the restrictions on Fugee’s ministry or about his 2003 conviction on a charge of aggravated criminal sexual contact. An appeals court overturned the verdict in 2006, ruling jurors should not have been told that Fugee questioned his sexual identity.
The controversy was the subject of a parish-wide meeting at the church last night.
For years, Myers has faced criticism for his handling of Fugee, whom he has characterized as a victim in the criminal case. In correspondence with priests of the archdiocese, he referred to the criminal case as an “acquittal” despite the fact Fugee entered a rehabilitation program and underwent counseling for sex offenders.
Several years ago, he named Fugee director of the Office of the Propagation of the Faith, a fundraising position to support missionary work. Then late last year, the archbishop appointed him co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests, drawing anger from advocates for victims of sexual abuse and Fugee’s alleged victim, who complained the priest’s past had been “swept under the rug.”
Priest charged with violating ban on ministry to children freed on bail
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on May 22, 2013 at 8:04 PM, updated May 24, 2013 at 7:15 PM
The Roman Catholic priest charged with violating a ban on ministry to children was released from jail late Tuesday, less than 12 hours after making his first appearance in a Bergen County courtroom.
The Rev. Michael Fugee, 52, walked out of the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack sometime after 7 p.m. A spokesman for the county sheriff’s department, which oversees the jail, declined to say who posted Fugee’s bail, which had been set at $25,000 with a 10 percent cash option.
The Archdiocese of Newark, to which Fugee is assigned, did not secure the priest’s release, said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for Archbishop John J. Myers. Goodness would not say whether Fugee was returned to a parish or other housing owned by the archdiocese.
Fugee was required to surrender his passport as a condition of the release.
Investigators with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office arrested Fugee at a parish in Newark Monday night, charging him with seven counts of contempt of a judicial order for interacting with children despite the ban.
The restriction grew out of a 2007 agreement Fugee signed with the prosecutor’s office to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a 13-year-old boy.
Following a Star-Ledger report on the priest’s continued contact with children and teens, authorities found he gave confessions to minors at youth retreats and a private home outside the archdiocese and at two parishes inside the archdiocese, which includes Bergen, Hudson, Union and Essex counties.
Fugee’s lawyer, Michael D’Alessio, did not return calls seeking comment.
D’Alessio, who represented Fugee when he signed the agreement, told the Record newspaper the priest did not violate the terms because Fugee was under the supervision of other adults when he was with children, the same defense initially mounted by the archdiocese.
Goodness, Myers’ spokesman, later reversed that position, saying that while Fugee did violate the agreement, he did so without the archbishop’s knowledge.
“Father Fugee is not guilty of this offense,” D’Alessio told the Record.
The lawyer added that prosecutors, to win a conviction, would have to prove in court the priest “knowingly and purposefully” flouted the agreement.
“If there are other adults in the room, other adults in the vicinity, he was never in a position where he could not be observed,” D’Alessio said. “That’s the key to this, and that’s the key to what he thought.”
Newark Archdiocese stirs outrage after allowing accused molester to live in parish
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on July 20, 2013 at 8:00 PM, updated July 20, 2013 at 9:39 PM
Parishioners at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Oradell first noticed the man in November. Each night, he slept in the rectory. Every morning, he attended Mass in the soaring brick church, across the street from the parish’s elementary school.
What parishioners didn’t know — what neither their pastor nor the Archdiocese of Newark told them — was that the man was an accused sexual predator.
The Rev. Robert Chabak, 66, was removed from ministry in 2004, when church officials determined there was evidence to support allegations he molested a teenage boy over a three-year period in the 1970s.
In the years since, Chabak has lived in a home once owned by his mother in the Normandy Beach section of Toms River. When Hurricane Sandy damaged that home, the archdiocese allowed him to take up residence at St. Joseph “out of a sense of compassion,” said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for Archbishop John. J. Myers.
But no one informed parishioners, who now say the archdiocese and the pastor, the Rev. Thomas Iwanowski, knowingly put children at risk.
It would be months before a few members of the parish discovered Chabak’s background. Under pressure from those parishioners, the archdiocese removed Chabak from St. Joseph in February, transferring him to a retirement home for priests in Rutherford.
But even then, parishioners said, Chabak repeatedly came back to St. Joseph to spend the night.
The furor has led to Iwanowski’s ouster as pastor, effective July 31. It also has spawned fierce criticism of the archdiocese, which has come under fire repeatedly for its handling of predator priests.
Most recently, Myers faced calls for his resignation in April and May after it was revealed the Rev. Michael Fugee had extensively interacted with teenagers despite a lifetime ban on ministry to children. Fugee has since been criminally charged with violating a judicial order.
Daniel O’Toole, the parishioner who led the effort to remove Chabak from St. Joseph, called Iwanowski and Myers “spectacularly tone deaf” given revelations about clergy sexual abuse and said the church has repeated its “past sins” by “recycling a problem priest into an unsuspecting community.”
“If these last two painful decades of scandal have taught us anything, it is that those who have engaged in sexual predation of children will continue to do so for as long as they are permitted access to children,” said O’Toole, 46, an attorney whose three children attend St. Joseph School.
“That access, in and of itself, presents a danger,” he said. “By allowing this man to live in the rectory within close proximity to parish children, schoolchildren and CCD students, the church breached its duty to its people.”
Several other parishioners have expressed similar anger and frustration but declined to speak for attribution. O’Toole said he is speaking for them.
Mark Crawford, the New Jersey director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a national advocacy group, called Chabak’s placement at St. Joseph “truly disturbing.”
“It is absolutely reckless to take this chance with a known predator,” Crawford said. “Why are we still taking such risks and not informing parents and parishioners? Clearly, the archbishop is not being on the level or honest with the people in the pews.”
Chabak, who is now back in the Normandy Beach home, declined to comment when a reporter knocked on his door last week.
Voter registration records show he shares the home with Iwanowski, 64, when the pastor is not at St. Joseph.
In a brief interview outside the Oradell rectory, Iwanowski said he didn’t see the harm in Chabak’s stay at the church.
“He lived in the rectory and went to Mass every day. He didn’t do anything else,” Iwanowski said. “I don’t see the problem with that.”
Asked about the propriety of Chabak visiting the parish after his removal, Iwanowski said, “He came for dinner. You have friends, don’t you? He simply came for dinner and visited a friend. Does it matter that he stayed over?”
The pastor called it “interesting” that people were watching the rectory to note Chabak’s comings and goings. He also said the controversy has been largely manufactured.
“There were people who had problems with my administration of the parish, and this gave them something to latch onto,” he said.
Iwanowski announced his resignation in the July 14 edition of the church bulletin. He wrote that he met with the archbishop July 5 “to discuss the situation here” and that he and Myers “reached the conclusion it would be best for me to move ‘forward in faith.’” The message did not name Chabak.
Goodness, the archdiocese spokesman, would not say if Myers personally approved Chabak’s move to St. Joseph, calling it an archdiocese decision.
The spokesman said the placement was the result of an “extraordinary circumstance” given the extensive damage to Chabak’s house.
“When this situation happened, it was logical to see if Chabak could be put up at St. Joseph for a little while with his friend, and there was space available,” Goodness said. “It was somebody answering a call for help in an emergency time.”
He said Chabak was moved to the retirement home in Rutherford when it became clear it would take longer to repair his house than originally thought. Iwanowski, Goodness said, was well aware of Chabak’s restriction on ministry and ensured the suspended priest did not take part in parish life other than attend Mass.
Chabak, ordained in 1972, was assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Elizabeth when he allegedly molested a 15-year-old boy for three years in the 1970s, authorities told The Star-Ledger in 2004, when the allegation was reported.
The statute of limitations had long since expired, and Chabak was not criminally charged.
But an investigation by the archdiocese showed there was “sufficient information to begin a canonical process,” Goodness said.
While the church declined to laicize Chabak, or remove him from the priesthood altogether, it stripped him of his priestly faculties, meaning he may not wear a collar or represent himself as a priest in any way.
The archdiocese has allowed him at least two exceptions to the ban, giving him permission to preside over the funerals of his mother and his aunt, Goodness said. The aunt’s funeral was held at St. Joseph in June of last year.
In recent months, the archdiocese has been made aware of a second allegation against Chabak, Goodness said.
The accuser, an Essex County attorney, told The Star-Ledger he was a 14-year-old altar boy at St. Mary of the Assumption in Elizabeth when Chabak invited him and another teen to Normandy Beach for a weekend in December 1977.
The newspaper has agreed to withhold the man’s name because he is an alleged victim of attempted sexual abuse.
The lawyer said Chabak brought him to see the R-rated movie “Saturday Night Fever” and tried to “initiate” him into the priest’s “club.”
“To be part of the club you had to strip down naked and run around while he photographed it,” the man said.
The accuser said he refused.
Later that night, he said, he was sleeping on Chabak’s living room floor when he awoke to find the priest straddling him and trying to remove his shirt. The other teen, a 15-year-old, was holding his legs, participating in the attack, the man said.
He said he managed to punch Chabak in the face and free himself, then ran and hid in the bushes.
“I never went back to the church,” he said. “In that one incident, he stole my childhood and innocence. I’ve been emotionally detached ever since. That moment was defining to me. He ruined me.”
The man said he kept the attempted assault a secret for decades, eventually telling his mother and brother. By happenstance, he learned about Chabak’s move into St. Joseph parish from a friend.
He has since made contact with O’Toole, the Oradell parishioner, and shared the story with him. O’Toole, in turn, passed the information on to the archdiocese, though he did not provide the accuser’s name.
In June, Goodness referred the case to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. A spokesman for that office, Al Della Fave, said law enforcement is eager to speak to the alleged victim, though it appears a criminal case would be barred by the statute of limitations.
“Ocean County prosecutor’s officials are willing to help him in any way they can,” Della Fave said.
The man has declined to speak to the archdiocese and says he has no intention of filing a lawsuit. What he wants, he said, is for Chabak to be kept as far away from children as possible.
O’Toole called his fight to remove Chabak extremely difficult and disillusioning, saying he cares deeply about the Catholic church and his parish, which he has attended his entire life.
“I’ve had people suggest to me I should just let this go, and I shouldn’t stand up and speak the truth because it’s going to cause potential harm to the church or to the school,” O’Toole said.
“And to those folks, I would suggest looking the other way and not giving voice to these things is what has put us in this position — this position where we’re constantly putting out fires created by church administrators and bad priests,” he said. “Honesty is the only true hope for the future of the Roman Catholic church in the United States of America.”
The Church’s Errant Shepherds
By FRANK BRUNI Published: July 6, 2013
BOSTON, Philadelphia, Los Angeles. The archdioceses change but the overarching story line doesn’t, and last week Milwaukee had a turn in the spotlight, with the release of roughly 6,000 pages of records detailing decades of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests there, a sweeping, searing encyclopedia of crime and insufficient punishment.
But the words I keep marveling at aren’t from that wretched trove. They’re from an open letter that Jerome Listecki, the archbishop of Milwaukee, wrote to Catholics just before the documents came out.
“Prepare to be shocked,” he said.
What a quaint warning, and what a clueless one.
Quaint because at this grim point in 2013, a quarter-century since child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church first captured serious public attention, few if any Catholics are still surprised by a priest’s predations.
Clueless because Listecki was referring to the rapes and molestations themselves, not to what has ultimately eroded many Catholics’ faith and what continues to be even more galling than the evil that a man — any man, including one in a cassock or collar — can do. I mean the evil that an entire institution can do, though it supposedly dedicates itself to good.
I mean the way that a religious organization can behave almost precisely as a corporation does, with fudged words, twisted logic and a transcendent instinct for self-protection that frequently trump the principled handling of a specific grievance or a particular victim.
The Milwaukee documents underscore this, especially in the person of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, previously the archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009 and thus one of the characters in the story that the documents tell. Last week’s headlines rightly focused on his part, because he typifies the slippery ways of too many Catholic leaders.
The documents show that in 2007, as the Milwaukee archdiocese grappled with sex-abuse lawsuits and seemingly pondered bankruptcy, Dolan sought and got permission from the Vatican to transfer $57 million into a trust for Catholic cemetery maintenance, where it might be better protected, as he wrote, “from any legal claim and liability.”
Several church officials have said that the money had been previously flagged for cemetery care, and that Dolan was merely formalizing that.
But even if that’s so, his letter contradicts his strenuous insistence before its emergence that he never sought to shield church funds. He did precisely that, no matter the nuances of the motivation.
He’s expert at drafting and dwelling in gray areas. Back in Milwaukee he selectively released the names of sexually abusive priests in the archdiocese, declining to identify those affiliated with, and answerable to, particular religious orders — Jesuits, say, or Franciscans. He said that he was bound by canon law to take that exact approach.
But bishops elsewhere took a different one, identifying priests from orders, and in a 2010 article on Dolan in The Times, Serge F. Kovaleski wrote that a half-dozen experts on canon law said that it did not specifically address the situation that Dolan claimed it did.
Dolan has quibbled disingenuously over whether the $20,000 given to each abusive priest in Milwaukee who agreed to be defrocked can be characterized as a payoff, and he has blasted the main national group representing victims of priests as having “no credibility whatsoever.” Some of the group’s members have surely engaged in crude, provocative tactics, but let’s have a reality check: the group exists because of widespread crimes and a persistent cover-up in the church, because child after child was raped and priest after priest evaded accountability. I’m not sure there’s any ceiling on the patience that Dolan and other church leaders should be expected to muster, especially because they hold themselves up as models and messengers of love, charity and integrity.
That’s the thing. That’s what church leaders and church defenders who routinely question the amount of attention lavished on the church’s child sexual abuse crisis still don’t fully get.
Yes, as they point out, there are molesters in all walks of life. Yes, we can’t say with certainty that the priesthood harbors a disproportionate number of them.
But over the last few decades we’ve watched an organization that claims a special moral authority in the world pursue many of the same legal and public-relations strategies — shuttling around money, looking for loopholes, tarring accusers, massaging the truth — that are employed by organizations devoted to nothing more than the bottom line.
In San Diego, diocesan leaders who filed for bankruptcy were rebuked by a judge for misrepresenting the local church’s financial situation to parishioners being asked to help pay for sex-abuse settlements.
In St. Louis church leaders claimed not to be liable for an abusive priest because while he had gotten to know a victim on church property, the abuse itself happened elsewhere.
In Kansas City, Mo., Rebecca Randles, a lawyer who has represented abuse victims, says that the church floods the courtroom with attorneys who in turn drown her in paperwork. In one case, she recently told me, “the motion-to-dismiss pile is higher than my head — I’m 5-foot-4.”
Also in Kansas City, Bishop Robert Finn still inhabits his post as the head of the diocese despite his conviction last September for failing to report a priest suspected of child sexual abuse to the police. This is how the church is in fact unlike a corporation. It coddles its own at the expense of its image.
As for Dolan, he is by many accounts and appearances one of the good guys, or at least one of the better ones. He has often demonstrated a necessary vigor in ridding the priesthood of abusers. He has given many victims a voice.
But look at the language in this 2005 letter he wrote to the Vatican, which was among the documents released last week. Arguing for the speedier dismissal of an abusive priest, he noted, in cool legalese, “The liability for the archdiocese is great as is the potential for scandal if it appears that no definitive action has been taken.”
His attention to appearances, his focus on liability: he could be steering an oil company through a spill, a pharmaceutical giant through a drug recall.
As for “the potential for scandal,” that’s as poignantly optimistic a line as Listecki’s assumption that the newly released Milwaukee documents would shock Catholics. By 2005 the scandal that Dolan mentions wasn’t looming but already full blown, and by last week the only shocker left was that some Catholic leaders don’t grasp its greatest component: their evasions and machinations.