Ex-altar boy who killed himself mourned in church where he was molested

Ex-altar boy who killed himself mourned in church where he was molested

Brian Gergely, who died at 46, battled alcoholism from the age of 10, amid what a grand jury concluded was widespread rape and abuse in Pennsylvania

From the Link: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/10/catholic-priest-child-abuse-suicide-brian-gergely

Brian Gergley, on the right.
Brian Gergley, on the right.

Brian Gergely’s body lay at his funeral mass just feet from where, in the same church, his revered priest had shattered his innocence and trust by molesting him when he was 10 years old.

“The root of all his problems was what happened to him as a kid,” said John Luther, a friend and former schoolmate of Gergely’s at a Catholic elementary school in the small Pennsylvania town of Ebensburg.

Luther recalled that Gergely, an altar boy, would get pulled out of class and told to go to the church “to help the monsignor”.

That was Father Francis McCaa, who was called a monster by a state grand jury in March. Its report concluded that he was among at least 50 priests in the local Altoona-Johnstown diocese who had systematically raped and molested hundreds of boys and girls for 40 years, while bishops covered it up and the criminal justice system looked the other way. McCaa died in 2007, at 82.

Gergely killed himself earlier this month at 46.

He had battled alcoholism since he started drinking at 10, shortly after McCaa pinned him to the sacristy at Holy Name church and began several years of sexual abuse.

Gergely went public in 2003 when he successfully sued the church and became something of a figurehead for victims in the area, having run a small support group in Ebensburg in recent years, friends said.

His three siblings and parents sobbed at the funeral last Wednesday. In a mostly impersonal service, there were no eulogies, no mention of abuse. The current priest said, simply: “Brian was a just man.”

A young altar girl and altar boy helped prepare holy communion, just as Gergely used to.

As his casket emerged into the muggy summer air, Brian’s older brother, Jerry, explained why the family had not switched locations for the funeral.

“Me and Brian, we had come to forgive the church. It has come full circle. He would be happy with this,” said Jerry Gergely.

His younger brother, Mark, said: “The Vatican runs deep. Bad things happened and there are a lot of things that are hidden. We are breaking through with the truth.”

Brian Gergely hanged himself in his parents’ garage in Ebensburg.

“It’s a terrible shame. He was intelligent and gifted, very knowledgeable about antiques. But when he drank, he’d get out of control,” said Luther.

Joe Luther, John’s brother and a friend and colleague to Gergely, said: “He talked about deep, hurtful things. You could tell he was depressed and tormented.” In recent days, Gergely had confided that he wanted peace from a chaotic life and “just wanted out”, said Luther.

When Gergely complained of abuse early on, he wasn’t believed. He spoke out again while attending the Catholic Bishop Carroll high school and was targeted for punishment, Luther said. Gergely developed a hair-trigger temper and was always “right in the middle” of boozy, rowdy weekend parties.

He had therapy later on, and sober spells, but ultimately failed to outrun his demons.

Luther said Gergely had also been angry that the Pennsylvania legislature had just failed to pass a law to lift the statute of limitations on lawsuits and criminal prosecutions against the church – including a two-year window to allow past victims to sue, amid reports of “mafia-style” tactics by the church and heavy spending on lobbyists.

Opposition to the legislation was led by Philadelphia’s archbishop, Charles Chaput, who last week also declaredthat remarried and gay Catholics should refrain from sex.

Although Gergely sued in 2003 and the church settled, he knew many victims who have struggled but have never come forward.

“There are quite a few ‘Brians’ around town. We talked about it,” said Luther.

As those who attended the funeral headed for the cemetery last Wednesday, a man in his forties held back, then sought a tree’s shade opposite Holy Name church.

“I’ve only told two people. Even my wife doesn’t know,” he said. His priest in the nearby town of Cresson had tried to fondle him when he was nine.

“I pushed myself away and I got very angry,” said the man, who asked the Guardian to withhold his name. The priest desisted, but the boy went from being his favorite to being shunned.

When he later also went to Bishop Carroll high school in Ebensburg, he was emerging as a superb athlete when his idol, a veteran basketball coach, asked him to undress to examine an injury, then began grasping the boy’s genitals.

“I remember swinging my arms, like, get away from me – I remember his glasses falling off and hitting the floor. I pulled up my shorts and ran,” said the man. Despite being a star player, he was repeatedly benched after that incident. He became a troublemaker, he said, and would hang out smoking pot with another notorious rebel – Brian Gergely.

He won a sports scholarship to college. “If I’d stayed here, I might have ended up like Brian,” he said.

Now living in another north-east state, he wants to tell his devoutly Catholic wife why he’s avoiding their church: because the new priest’s voice is eerily like his childhood priest’s. He’s also petrified he has brain damage from multiple concussions at football, and he has been having suicidal thoughts, he said.

He was “sickened” by Gergely’s funeral being held at the scene of his serial abuse, he said.

In March 2016, at the elegant courthouse in Ebensburg, when three state lawmakers announced a fresh fight to help victims with new legislation, which is now foundering, Gergely said he had been “a little guy”, easily overpowered by McCaa in various locations around the church.

“I smelled him … He reached around under my cassock and said: ‘You are being a good boy.’ It messed me up, my self esteem, my regard for authority, my personal relationships, all of it,” Gergely told the Guardian at that time.

But he also said he had gone to confession in 2011 at Holy Name “in the same confessional where I was abused” and “pretty much forgave Monsignor McCaa”.

He sued via the Altoona lawyer Richard Serbin, who had first filed a landmark lawsuit against the diocese in 1987 for another victim. It went to trial in 1994 and many predatory priests recently named in the grand jury report were publicly identified then, but no action was taken. It took 20 years of appeals before the church was forced to pay out.

Gergely’s was the fourth suicide Serbin knows of among church victims he has represented. Others have died premature deaths of unconfirmed causes, he said.

The state representative Mark Rozzi, who was raped by his priest at 13 and has seen three friends and fellow victims kill themselves, is outraged by the Pennsylvania senate’s latest resistance to passing legislation, and is traumatized by Gergely’s suicide.

He warned: “He won’t be the last.”


Suicide, Sexual Abuse and the Search for Justice

Suicide, Sexual Abuse and the Search for Justice

Jul 7 2016 – 2:00pm | Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea
Brian Gergley
Brian Gergley, on the right.

Brian Gergely, a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest and a staunch advocate for other victims, took his own life last week, just days after the Pennsylvania State Senate eliminated from a bill reforming sexual abuse statutes the right of past victims to seek redress in court. Mr. Gergely’s suicide evoked deep compassion from many Catholics and fellow survivors and advocates.

Some survivors and advocates opined that Mr. Gergely’s suicide stemmed from hopelessness following the senate’s action.Judith Weiss Collins, a survivor of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy in the Diocese of Allentown, said: “Talk to anyone who has been abused and the suicidal idealization [sic] is always there…. It’s just wretched…but loss of hope that is it…knowing you can’t do anything. That we can’t do anything to gain back anything that was lost.” This statement encapsulates some of the complexities of suicide and its relationship with sexual abuse that are important to unpack.

Suicide Demographics. Suicide is a public health scourge that rests on myriad factors. Since 1999, the incidence of suicide in the United States has increased rapidly, picking up even more speed since 2010. Now 117 Americans take their lives every day. Suicide has increased among nearly every age group, but middle-aged white men appear to be a particularly vulnerable group. Experts have not reached consensus on the reasons for this uptick in suicides, variously citing as potential contributors: the economic downturn, the increase in intended overdoses of prescribed opiates for pain, the role of Iraq and Afghanistan in veteran suicides, and social isolation, especially of divorced middle-aged men who also may be jobless.

Suicide and Sexual Abuse. Survivors of sexual abuse in childhood or adolescence are two to four times more likely to take their own lives than non-abused individuals. The likelihood of suicide is more strongly correlated with early sexual trauma when the abuse is repetitive and the perpetrator is a family member. Sexual abuse by a priest is comparable to incest given the historic role of a priest as the spiritual “father” of all Catholics in his care. Additional risk factors for suicide, like alcohol and substance abuse, depression, impulsivity, relational losses, job instability or loss, previous suicide attempts, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders and social isolation, are also common consequences of sexual abuse.

Further, while any kind of sexual abuse may disrupt the child’s relationship with God, violation by a priest frequently destroys God as a protective source of hope, instead turning the divine into a sadistic abuser or a careless witness who refuses to intervene. Brian Gergely, abused for seven years by a Catholic priest, was therefore at high risk for suicide. His great disappointment over the Pennsylvania Senate’s amendment to a bill he had fought for may well have been the contemporary trigger leading him to choose to kill himself.

But here is where things get tricky. While there is a well-substantiated and alarming relationship between sexual abuse and suicide, suicide is still rare among abuse survivors. Contrary to the quotation from Ms. Collins above, “only” about one third of survivors even think about taking their own lives, and far fewer actually do it. Unfortunately, I could not find any studies specifying the percentage of suicides linked to histories of childhood sexual abuse, or any addressing the percentage of survivors of sexual abuse who ultimately commit suicide. Researchers point out, however, that individuals who take their own lives usually have a plethora of risk factors, some of which co-vary (e.g., substance abuse and depression; substance abuse and social isolation; financial instability and relational loss). This makes it difficult to isolate the factors most associated with a given suicide.

After my 30 years of clinical work with survivors of sexual abuse, I estimate that 50 percent have had at least occasional suicidal ideation, and about 10 percent have considered suicide seriously enough to warrant additional clinical services ranging from a medication change to extra sessions, to brief in-patient stays. One patient took her own life. She, like most people who take their own lives, had a pastiche of risk factors: sexual abuse as a child, a parent who committed suicide, access to lethal means, depression, financial instability, a degenerative physical disease and the departure from home of her youngest child.

A Treatable Condition. A tendency toward suicide does not necessarily lead to an actual suicide.Any episode of suicidal thinking or intent is time-limited, even if those episodes occur regularly. The goal of therapy is to see someone through an episode, shore up or introduce protective factors and assist in accessing an ongoing source of help. Mental health crisis centers, the police and medical workers or hospital emergency departments are available to talk to and evaluate suicidal persons and point them toward additional help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open for phone or online chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The person in a suicidal crisis needs immediate attention; the person with recurrent suicidal ideation needs a healing relationship with a therapist or other trained professional.

Life After Abuse. The survivor quoted above feels that the Pennsylvania senate robbed survivors of hope that they can get back something they lost. The soul-searing truth, however, is that no court, no settlement, no public acknowledgement can give them justice. A childhood desecrated by sexual abuse, especially abuse perpetrated by a priest, can never be restored. It is unfair, but the task of the survivor who truly wants to heal is to mourn the unrecoverable loss of a deserved childhood, to go through the sickening process of relinquishing the hope of restoration in order to live into the hope of resurrection.

When this journey is successful, the survivor develops a life separate from the abuse. The inner demons are not fully exorcised, but they are tamed. It takes greater provocation to wake them; and less time, effort and pain are required to keep them at bay. At that point, any gestures received or triumphs gleaned from laws, lawsuits or church efforts are gravy for the survivor to savor, not essentials to make life worth living.

A Note of Caution. Suicide is contagious at times, and another risk factor is exposure through personal experience, media or the internet to the suicide of another, especially one with whom a person has something in common. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) provides information about suicide risk factors and prevention. The staff also provides guidelines for media discussion of suicide. It is irresponsible for anyone to react to an individual’s suicide without noting that suicide can be prevented, offering hope and directing to the Lifeline people who are considering suicide and those who are concerned about someone else who is at risk.

Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and trauma specialist, has worked with the victims of sexual abuse for 30 years.

Michael R. Unglo

Michael R. Unglo
hd-wallpapers-gothic-wallpaper-blackwhite-1024x768-wallpaperMichael R. Unglo

Michael R. Unglo
Michael R. Unglo

Michael R. Unglo had a history of attempting suicide. In May 2010, at least a month after the church announced that it would stop paying for his care, Mr. Unglo killed himself.

Mr. Unglo had claimed that he was the victim of “extreme sexual abuse” by a priest, Richard Dorsch at All Saints Church in Etna between 1982 and 1985, when he served as an altar boy and attended a school linked to the church. The priest was never charged criminally with molesting Mr. Unglo. Dorsch was sentenced to 11 to 23 months in jail after molesting a 13-year-old boy he had invited to North Park near Pittsburgh for a day of swimming and golfing, court records show.

In June 2008, Mr. Unglo attempted to commit suicide. A month later, the diocese began to pay for his mental health treatment. Later that year, Bishop David Zubik told two of Mr. Unglo’s brothers and said he would do “whatever it takes to right the wrong,” according to court documents.

Mr. Unglo attempted suicide again in June 2009. The diocese paid for him to receive treatment at Bellevue Hospital in New York, Sheppard Pratt in Maryland and Austen Riggs Center in Massachusetts.

In “early 2010,” the diocese sent Mr. Unglo a letter saying it would give him one final payment of $75,000. On April 5, 2010, a doctor at Austen Riggs Center told the diocese Mr. Unglo needed more treatment. Almost a month later, on May 4, 2010, Mr. Unglo committed suicide at the center.

The estate of Michael Unglo sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, alleging he committed suicide this year after the diocese stopped paying for his mental health treatments following two other suicide attempts.

The diocese decided to stop paying for Unglo’s treatment even though the diocese continued to pay for the priest’s health insurance and paid the priest an unspecified monthly stipend, Alan Perer, attorney for Unglo’s estate, said Thursday at a news conference.

“There was money to fund a convicted, pedophile, defrocked priest and yet not enough money to continue to provide for the victim of that priest who ultimately killed himself,” Perer said.

The lawsuit alleges negligence by the diocese and Bishop David Zubik and seeks at least $50,000 in damages for factors including Unglo’s pain and suffering, his medical expenses, his future lost income and his family’s loss of his companionship.

The diocese issued a statement Thursday denying negligence or any responsibility for Unglo’s death, noting that it “provided hundreds of thousands of dollars for counseling and residential treatment” that continued until his death.

The Rev. Ronald Lengwin, a diocesan spokesman, confirmed the diocese continues to pay the former priest, Richard Dorsch, a monthly stipend of about $1,000.

“As a matter of policy we don’t want to see anyone go homeless,” Lengwin said. “If we provide a stipend that doesn’t mean we’re supporting that priest in terms of the allegations, but he is a human being and we have to care for him in a minimum way.”

Eduardo Ramon Boehland

supernatural2Eduardo Ramon Boehland

Eduardo Ramon Boehland
Eduardo Ramon Boehland

It’s been a very big loss. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Eduardo, Barbara Boehland said.

Boehland’s son, Eduardo Ramon, committed suicide back in 1997. She says he did it because of sexual abuse by a priest.

He was sexually assualted by a catholic priest named Carlos Lozano, in San Antonio Texas at the age of 16.

Barbara Garcia Boehland said after a San Antonio priest abused her son Eduardo twice in 1993 at a seminary boarding school he changed dramatically. “He had a lot of nightmares, on going nightmares, he couldn’t trust people, constantly scared, could never eat. We constantly went to therapy sessions. He just became somebody else he wasn’t,” Boehland said. Just four years after his abuse, 20-year-old Eduardo killed himself in 1997.

‘I remember falling to my knees and crying because it didn’t happen at my house. It happened at my grandparents’ house where he hung himself, Boehland said.

Boehland says the Catholic Church needs to be held accountable. She’s part of a nationwide group that supports survivors of religous sexual abuse.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)petitioned the International Criminal Court to investigate its 84-page legal complaint that the pope and several cardinals knowingly condoned sexual abuse and did very little, if anything, to stop it.

I have a lot of faith in God that his trial will happen and the church will pay for all that they have been hiding… all this scandal, Boehland said.

The court has yet to take action on SNAP’s complaint. It was originally filed back in 2011.

But to increase support for its cause, SNAP’s leadership made its way to Vatican City to attempt to ask Pope Benedict, before he steps down Thursday, to provide police with any records that the Catholic Church might have involving sex crimes by its priests.

Boehland hopes this fresh push for accountability can help others avoid the pain she’s endured for the past 15 years.

Some of the days are harder. Holidays. He and I share the same month of birthday. Four days seperate us. He’s January 4th. Mine is the 8th, she said. It’s really hard to celebrate a loss. Any parent who’s lost a child knows exactly how I feel.

A local woman believes there are striking similarities between a sexual abuse scandal involving a former Penn State University assistant football coach and an alleged cover-up of sex abuse cases by the Catholic Church.

Barbara Garcia-Boeland is the local president of a group called, SNAP, or Support Network for Those Who’ve Been Abused by Priests.

Her own son, Eduardo, was among many people worldwide who accused the Catholic Church of covering up cases of sexual abuse involving its priests.

Eduardo committed suicide in 1997 at the age of 20 — four years after she said he was sexually assaulted by a priest at a local seminary.

“There’s shame, embarrassment. You feel guilt,” said Garcia-Boehland, explaining what might cause victims to end their own lives. She said she fears a similar fate could befall some of the alleged victims in this latest scandal.

“Keeping this a secrecy thing, in order not to scar the university or scar their own names, or embarrassment. Well, what do they think these victims feel?” Garcia-Boehland said.

She said she plans to continue working through her organization to make sure there are no future cover-ups. One way, she said, is through encouraging the victims not to remain silent.

“This thing happens all the time but it has to come to a stop,” said Garcia-Boehland. “Hopefully, they’ll find the courage to tell somebody.”

Bell Rings 170 times for victims of suicide of clergy sex abuse

Bell Rings 170 times for victims of suicide of clergy sex abuse


Giving Victims of Sexual Abuse a Chance to Heal

At a church service designed for survivors of molestation, an Anglican cleric tells of abuse he allegedly suffered as a youth.

April 16, 2005|William Lobdell | Times Staff Writer

An alleged victim of clergy sexual abuse, the Rev. Robert H. Greene took his story public last Saturday from an unlikely spot: behind the pulpit at a Los Angeles church.

In a liturgy designed for fellow molestation survivors, the Anglican cleric told his story of alleged abuse as a teenager by a Roman Catholic priest, let others share their experiences, and offered communion to those who wanted it.

About 30 people who attended the service heard original music and poems by victims of sexual abuse.

At the end of the service, the church bell at the Church of Our Savior on Wilshire Boulevard rang 170 times, once for each victim of clergy sexual abuse who has committed suicide in the U.S., according to statistics gathered by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

“We almost broke the bell,” said Greene, a part-time cleric for the Anglican Province of Christ the King. The denomination was formed in 1977 by traditionalists unhappy with changes within the Episcopal Church in America.

A former Catholic seminarian, Greene, 51, is among more than 550 people who filed claims in 2003 against the Los Angeles Archdiocese alleging sexual abuse by clergy and church officials.

He said he decided to hold last week’s unusual church service for those who were unwilling to visit a Catholic parish but still longed to reconnect to God — and for others who had attended Catholic Church healing services but wanted more.

Other victims, who had lost their faith, simply came to support fellow survivors.

“This is what liturgy is supposed to do: connect people with their creator where they are at,” said Joe Beckman, 45, of Long Beach. “This service was by, for and from survivors who shared a common tragedy. I found it very freeing.”

The fact that Greene is a clergyman and an alleged victim of sexual abuse carried special weight.

“His story is powerful,” said Mary Grant, regional director for the survivors network, which helped organize the event. “I just see a tremendous amount of courage. I cannot imagine how overwhelming it must feel to be abused by a priest and then, as an adult, you work as a clergy member.”

But Greene said his initial anxiety about the service — especially that bitterness and bad memories could overwhelm the sacred — gave way to serenity.

“I walked away with a great sense of inner peace,” he said. “The vast majority of people walked away with a feeling that you can express your anger in a sacred environment.”

In 2003, Udo Strutynski of Highland Park had attended one of the healing services offered by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles to help molestation victims and came away uplifted. Still, he said he felt uneasy in a Catholic parish, listening to priests he didn’t know and didn’t completely trust.

But with fellow survivors running the service and in the pews at Church of Our Savior, Strutynski, 62, said he was “completely secure.”

“It was really, really good,” said Strutynski, an alleged abuse victim who had dropped out of the Catholic Church long ago. “I felt extremely welcomed.”

He added that during parts of the service, he found himself responding in the Latin he learned as an altar boy. “It came right back to me,” Strutynski said.

Officials with the Catholic archdiocese said efforts such as Greene’s from other denominations should be welcomed and applauded.

“Healing can come from many places,” said spokeswoman Carolina Guevara, adding that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony has held eight private prayer and healing services for victims and their families this year.

Greene’s lawsuit alleges that as an altar boy, he was befriended by a visiting Catholic priest who plied him with wine and sexually abused him, beginning at age 16.

The relationship continued with sporadic visits during Greene’s freshman year at the archdiocese’s St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, where he was studying to be a priest.

At the same time, Greene’s mother, without her son’s knowledge, contacted church officials with concerns about the cleric’s inappropriately close relationship with her son and about how her son often came home drunk and was depressed.

The priest was removed from the archdiocese and, according to a 2003 report by Mahony, the church found that the alleged perpetrator had never received official permission to work in the archdiocese. In his lawsuit, Greene also wants the archdiocese to explain how the cleric could work without proper paperwork.

Greene dropped out of St. John’s and gave up his dream of entering the priesthood.

He also started to confide in some priest friends about the abuse. He said one of them warned him to keep quiet if he ever wanted to be ordained.

Greene graduated from Cal State Long Beach with degrees in finance and English literature and began a business career.

But he continued to struggle with the emotional and spiritual fallout from his molestation.

“I was having problems making a connection to God and with other people,” Greene said.

James Thomas Kelly

Outspoken Victim of Abuse by Priest Kills Himself

1211694-bigthumbnailJames Thomas Kelly

A Morristown, N.J., man who was instrumental in organizing New Jersey residents who had been abused by priests apparently committed suicide Sunday by walking in front of an eastbound New Jersey Transit commuter train.

James Thomas Kelly
James Thomas Kelly

The man, James Thomas Kelly, 37, was killed when a Hoboken-bound train from Dover struck him in the predawn darkness at 5:17 a.m.

Penny Bassett Hackett, a spokeswoman for New Jersey Transit, said the train’s engineer recounted seeing a man stepping onto the tracks as the train was about an eighth of a mile from the Morristown station. Mr. Kelly’s car was found in the parking lot of the station, she said.

The news of Mr. Kelly’s death stung those active with the New York and New Jersey chapters of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Mr. Kelly, a Mendham native, helped found the New Jersey chapter and was an active speaker with the New York unit.

There was no note left, and family and friends of Mr. Kelly said that they did not know why he might have killed himself. They cautioned against linking the suicide directly to the abuse by a priest that he and some of his brothers had suffered as children.

In April 2002, amid the flurry of revelations about the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, Mr. Kelly publicly acknowledged that he had been sexually abused by his parish priest, the Rev. James T. Hanley, then of St. Joseph’s in Mendham.

Mark Serrano, a regional director of the abuse survivor’s network and a victim of Father Hanley as well, said that Mr. Kelly, like so many abuse victims, had not shared what had happened to him until then.

Allegations against Father Hanley first surfaced in the 1990’s and were quietly investigated by the Morris County prosecutor, who later concluded that the statute of limitations had tolled on most of the instances of abuse that dated back to the 70’s and 80’s. In 1995, a maverick priest in the parish went public with the allegations, many of which were the subject of confidentiality agreements arising from court settlements with victims of abuse by the priest. Father Hanley was removed as a priest but was never charged.

”We have gone through life in such darkness and shame and silence,” Mr. Serrano said of abuse victims in general, and Mr. Kelly in particular. ”But through speaking to others, Jim was able to turn the abuse around. His death was a great tragedy that we may never be able to understand.”

Those who heard Mr. Kelly speak said he often opened by movingly recalling the murder in 2002 of a former girlfriend who was stabbed while fighting off a would-be rapist. Tearfully, he would pay tribute to the woman’s resistance to becoming a victim. Then he would note that children like himself and others who had been abused by trusted religious figures did not have the power to fight back.

It was a story that he told at the inaugural gathering of the northern New Jersey chapter of Voices of the Faithful, which drew more than 150 people to a catering hall in August 2002. Theresa Padovano, a former nun who helped start the 30,000-member lay group, which emerged as a national response to the abuse revelations, said the audience was visibly moved by his speech and accounts of abuse at the hands of Father Hanley.

News of Mr. Kelly’s death spread quickly by e-mail yesterday, she said, noting that she found several messages about his death when she awoke.

”He was a very decent, innocent man who had been grossly abused,” she said. ”I feel sick at heart.”

Recently, according to friends, Mr. Kelly was volunteering and making himself available for more and more speaking opportunities. David Cerulli, a board member of the New York chapter of the survivors group who ran their speakers bureau, said people were always moved by his honesty. ”Jim was my go-to guy whenever I needed somebody,” he said. ”He was always available to break the silence.”

A graduate of Rowan University in Glassboro and a salesman with Nextel, Mr. Kelly was described as a talkative and gregarious man who seemed to enjoy the bonhomie of sales work.

The Rev. Kenneth Lasch, the current parish priest at St. Joseph’s and an outspoken advocate for the survivors of abuse by priests, said that in spite of Father Hanley’s sexual abuse, ”there was no crisis of faith” for Mr. Kelly.

”He didn’t seem alienated,” Father Lasch said. ”He had sought professional help outside of the support group, but we all know that midlife is a tough time. We also know that life is a matrix, and we don’t know what triggered this death.”

Father Lasch will officiate at a funeral Mass for Mr. Kelly tomorrow at noon at St. Joseph’s in Mendham.

John Doe SON

Parents of man who committed suicide over alleged abuse sue St. Louis Archdiocese

hd-wallpapers-gothic-wallpaper-blackwhite-1024x768-wallpaperJohn Doe SON

The parents of a man from Florissant who committed suicide in 2009 sued the St. Louis Archdiocese Thursday claiming their son’s death was the result of sexual and emotional abuse by a Roman Catholic priest at Kenrick Glennon Seminary in Shrewsbury.

The lawsuit filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court says Bryan Kuchar, who was suspended by the archdiocese in 2002 and defrocked by the Vatican in 2006, molested the plaintiffs’ son at the seminary’s overnight camp between 1999 and 2002. The boy — known in court documents as John Doe SON — was between 12 and 14 at the time.

In 2003 Kuchar was found guilty of molesting a 14-year-old boy eight years earlier, when the priest was serving at Assumption Catholic Church in south St. Louis County. He was sentenced to three consecutive one-year terms in the St. Louis County Jail.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese, Angela Shelton, said officials there had “not been served a copy of this lawsuit involving Kuchar, and we do not comment on pending litigation.”

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said there had been perhaps “a couple dozen” lawsuits across the country over the last decade in which the plaintiffs blamed a loved one’s suicide on clergy sexual abuse.

“It’s not unheard of, but it’s far from common,” he said.

In the most infamous case, five victims of the Rev. Robert Larson in the 1970s and 1980s killed themselves as adults. Larson now lives at the St. John Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Mo.

At least two other lawsuits over clergy sexual abuse where suicide was a factor have been settled by the St. Louis Archdiocese.

Kenneth Chackes, the attorney for the couple who filed the newest suit, said John Doe SON had made “several” suicide attempts between the ages of 14 and 21, when he died. He said John Doe SON spoke to at least one of his therapists and to other medical staff about the sexual abuse while he was hospitalized after suicide attempts.

Chackes said the parents took four years to file a lawsuit because they needed “a long time to deal with the suicide and how it happened.”

In a statement, the parents said they had approached the St. Louis Archdiocesan Review Board — which responds to accusations of clergy sexual abuse — but were dismissed.

“The fault lies with the church officials who failed to keep our son and other victims of predatory priests safe,” according to the statement.

From the link: http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/parents-of-man-who-committed-suicide-over-alleged-abuse-sue/article_66358760-950b-5aa0-b116-6c226de26701.html

May 02, 2013 5:15 pm  • 

Clergy Sex Abuse Linked To 13 Suicides: Report

Clergy Sex Abuse Linked To 13 Suicides: Report


BRUSSELS — Hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two, a special commission said Friday.

Professor Peter Adriaenssens, chairman of the commission, said the abuse in Belgium may have been even more rampant than the 200-page report suggests.

“Reality is worse than what we present here today because not everyone shares such things automatically in a first contact with the commission,” he told reporters.

Adriaenssens, a child psychiatrist who has worked with trauma victims for 23 years, said nothing had prepared him for the stories of abuse that blighted the lives of victims.

“We don’t just talk about touching. We are talking about oral and anal abuse, forced masturbation and mutual masturbation. We talk about people who have gone through serious abuse,” Adriaenssens said.

Most of the abuse happened during the 1960s and 1970s, he said.

The Roman Catholic Church in Belgium experienced the findings as “a body blow,” Adriaenssens said.

Belgian Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard said he would react on Monday to the report. The Vatican had no immediate comment.

But Tournai Bishop Guy Harpigny, who deals with the issue for the church, praised Adriaenssens’s work and told VRT television that “now, the time has come to listen to the victims.”

The report’s findings are the latest embarrassment for Belgium’s Catholic Church, which is still reeling after the April resignation of Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who admitted to having sexually abused a nephew for years when he was a priest and bishop.

Friday’s report said 507 witnesses came forward with stories of molestation at the hands of clergy over the past decades. It says those abused included children who were two, four, five and six years old.

Family members or friends said 13 victims committed suicide that “was related to sexual abuse by clergy,” the report said. Six other witnesses said they had attempted suicide.

“It is notable how often one issue comes back in the witness reports: the high number of suicides,” the report said.

The number of those coming forward with their stories and testimonies, however, could be only a fraction of those actually abused, Adriaenssens said. He added several priests cooperated with the panel, which had the support of the Belgian church.

“We saw how priests, called up by the commission and asked to help seek the truth, were willing to set up the list of 10, 15, 20 victims they abused during boarding school while the commission knew only of one,” he said.

Archbishop Leonard, who was appointed earlier this year, said he will come forward with a new initiative Monday on how to deal with cases of abuse, prevent further abuse and help victims seek closure.

His spokesman Jurgen Mettepenningen said the archbishop didn’t comment Friday so as not to distract attention from the report’s contents.

Leonard’s predecessor, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, acknowledged Wednesday that damage control often took precedence in Belgium over concerns for victims in sexual abuse cases involving clergy.

The crisis in the Belgian church was exacerbated last month, when secret tapes were published of Danneels speaking with the man whom Vangheluwe abused and suggesting a cover-up until Vangheluwe was to retire in 2011. Danneels said Wednesday he should have asked Vangheluwe to resign immediately.

From the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/10/church-sex-abuse-linked-t_n_712094.html

Patrick McSorley: A Prominent Accuser in Boston Abuse Scandal Is Found Dead

Patrick McSorley: A Prominent Accuser in Boston Abuse Scandal Is Found Dead

5718e49b8901b650430ebd1682ceac06Patric McSorley

BOSTON, Feb. 23 — Patrick McSorley was 12 when a priest named John J. Geoghan took him out for ice cream, offering comfort to a boy whose father had just committed suicide.

Instead, as Mr. McSorley described it years later, Father Geoghan molested him in his car.

Father Geoghan would become a central figure in the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the parishes of Boston. He was defrocked in 1998 and sentenced to prison in 2002 for fondling a 10-year-old boy. And Mr. McSorley would become one of the scandal’s most public accusers, appearing at news conferences, demonstrations and court hearings.

But on Monday, after years of struggling with the scars of his ordeal, Mr. McSorley, 29, was found dead in a friend’s apartment in Boston’s North End. A Police Department spokesman, David Estrada, said the cause of death would not be known until autopsy results were analyzed.

Mr. McSorley was one of the first people to come forward with accusations of abuse, telling his story in January 2002, as the scandal was erupting. He was also one of the younger men to speak publicly about his experience.

“It would usually take people at least until they were in their mid-to-late 30’s to come forward,” said Phil Saviano, founder of the New England chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. “For a guy at his age to go public about that sort of experience has to take a tremendous amount of courage. I know a lot of survivors who have not had the courage to do that themselves, and someone like Patrick would have been very inspiring to them.”

By all accounts, Mr. McSorley wrestled with demons, even after Mr. Geoghan went to prison, and even after Mr. McSorley and 85 others who said they were molested by Mr. Geoghan shared a $10 million legal settlement in September 2002.

“The money’s nothing,” said William Oberle, a friend of Mr. McSorley who said he was a victim of abuse. “It doesn’t bring closure.”

Last June, Mr. McSorley was found face down and unconscious in the Neponset River after walking with a friend in Pope John Paul II Park in Boston.

Mr. McSorley recovered, and he later said that he did not know how he had ended up in the water but that he had not attempted suicide.

In July, Mr. McSorley was charged with drug possession when, the police said, they found him and some friends in a suburban motel room that contained marijuana, the painkiller fentanyl, hypodermic needles and evidence of heroin use. He pleaded not guilty.

In August, Mr. Geoghan was strangled and beaten in prison; another inmate was charged in the killing.

“I said when Geoghan died, at least he’ll never molest another child again,” Mr. Oberle said. “But he’s still molesting them. He’s still affecting these children.”

Alexa MacPherson, a friend who says she too was molested by a priest, said Mr. McSorley, who was helping to raise his 4-year-old son and his girlfriend’s younger daughter, spent time in a drug rehabilitation program last fall.

“He wanted to get clean for his son and for himself and just wanted to live a good, normal life,” Ms. MacPherson said. “For him, I think, his demons really had a hold on him, and he really didn’t know how to shake it.”

Ms. MacPherson said that appearing at news conferences had a “therapeutic value” for Mr. McSorley but that he had also tired of it and “didn’t want to be known as just a victim.”

He was still very aware of developments related to the abuse scandal, however, and his lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said that Mr. McSorley called him last Friday and requested that the two meet this week because “he was still interested in being a voice of the victims” of sexual abuse by clergy members.

Several people who said they were abused said that news related to the scandal often served as a painful reminder of what they had gone through.

“It could be anything,” Ms. MacPherson said. “You’re just walking down a street and something triggers a memory. Or a certain smell will remind me of something, and I just want to jump out of my skin. I know that Patrick went through a lot of that as well.”



Cop calls for probe into abuse at Catholic primary school

Staff writer
The Herald Sun
Saturday, July 30, 2011

A police officer investigating a series of sexual assaults at a
Catholic boys school in Ballarat has called for a parliamentary
inquiry into the church’s handling of the abuse.

Detective Sgt Kevin Carson, of Ballarat police, told the ABC’s 7.30
last night that up to 30 students had committed suicide since being
abused at St Alipius primary school.

Sgt Carson’s call came ahead of the sentencing of the school’s former principal, Brother Robert Best, who has been found guilty of 21 counts against eight victims between 1969 and 1988.

He also pleaded guilty in May to six other charges against three

He will be sentenced for all the offences next month.

Anyone with personal problems can call Lifeline on 131 114.

Related Coverage:

Ex-student tells of sex monster torment
Herald Sun, 3 days ago

Suicide Victims of the Roman Catholic Church