The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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Sex Abuse Victims Seek Help From Five Bishops
Abusive-Seminarian-Turned-Teacher Was In MA, ME, IN, FL, & OK
Civil Child Molestation Lawsuit Against Him Was Settled Last Year
SNAP Urges Catholic Prelates To Reach Out To Others Who May Have Been Hurt
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging five Catholic bishops to reach out to others who may have been assaulted by a former priest who is now a school principal and has been accused of molesting at least two boys.
Two days ago, a Bradenton school district suspended Joseph Gilpin who, as a Catholic seminarian, was sued in 2001 for molesting a boy in Massachusetts. In 2003, a second accuser reported being abused by the Gilpin at a Catholic school in Maine.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, want bishops in those two states, along with Indiana (where Gilpin attended seminary) Oklahoma (where he attended the University of Oklahoma in Norman) and Florida, to make efforts to find anyone who "experienced, witnessed or suspected" sex crimes by Gilpin, said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP's National Director.
Gilpin is an assistant principal at Carlos Haile Middle School (941 714 7240). He has been with the Manatee School District (941 708 8770) since 1971.
According to a January 24, 2001 article in the Boston Globe, Gilpin was civilly sued in Suffolk County Superior Court for allegedly molesting a boy at several locations, including a Catholic camp in Duxbury, MA and the boy's home in Wareham, MA between 1965 and 1968. The man who filed the suit said the crimes took place when he was between the ages of 9 and 12. News reports state that the lawsuit was settled in 2004 for $250,000.
"Because church officials in Massachusetts and Maine kept secrets, a molester had continued access to kids for 34 more years," said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP's National Director. "All five bishops now have a moral obligation to help see if there are more of Gilpin's victims still suffering, and a civic obligation to help get him criminally prosecuted."
This morning, SNAP e-mailed letters to Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley, Portland ME Bishop Richard Malone, Indianapolis Bishop Daniel Buechlein, Oklahoma City Bishop Eusebius J. Beltran and Venice FL Bishop John Nevins. The letters urge each bishop to "use your diocesan web site, diocesan newspapers, parish bulletins and public relations staff " to "do what Jesus told us to do - find the "lost sheep."
"We are convinced that across the country, many who were sodomized and raped by clergy remain trapped in secrecy, shame and self-blame," said Clohessy. "They need to be compassionately prodded to step forward so that they can start to recover from their horrific trauma. Bishops need to take the lead in this gentle prodding."
The group reminded the bishops that pedophiles rarely stop molesting children and that three years ago, they adopted national guidelines that call for greater openness about abuse cases.
"Now is the time to live up to those promises," the letter says, "by offering, in a straightforward and pro-active way, real help to victims who may need help in healing themselves and prosecutors who may need help in prosecuting Gilpin."
SNAP, is the nation's oldest and largest support group for victims of clergy sexual abuse with support groups in over 60 cities nation wide.
SNAP's letter, sent today via e mail, is below:
January 28, 2005
Letter to Bishops:
We seek your help in finding anyone who may have been hurt by Joseph Gilpin, a former seminarian who spent time in your diocese. Assistant principal named in settlement
Our goal is twofold: first, to help those already hurt, and second, to protect those still vulnerable.
Gilpin faces at least two accusers. One civil lawsuit against him was settled for $350,000. He's been suspended from his job as an assistant principal at a Florida middle school.
There is much we could debate:
- Should the Indiana seminary have noticed "warning signs" and notified the Boston Archdiocese?
- Should the Boston Archdiocese have notified the Maine diocese of abuse allegations against Gilpin?
- Should Maineâ€s diocese have worked harder to investigate his background?
- Should Maine's diocese have acted sooner when Gilpin's second victim came forward in 2003?
Instead, it's time to find some solutions. And the solution appears obvious to us - use your vast resources to try and reach even one person who is still wounded, still isolated, still depressed, still mired in doubt and pain.
"Rescue and recovery" efforts focused on those already hurt can simultaneously safeguard those still at risk, by educating vulnerable families about Gilpin's history. Ultimately, kids are safe when sexual predators are behind bars. By urging victims to come forward, you may contribute to possible criminal proceedings against Gilpin.
We beg you to avoid the temptation to minimize ("He was only in our diocese a short time"), claim ignorance ("We didn't know about his past"), dodge responsibility ("We have no connection to him"), and split hairs ("Technically, he was with another diocese, and just here temporarily"). Focus not on who may be legally liable, but instead focus on who may be suffering. Please use your pastoral skills and training and your diocese's resources to reach out to victims.
So please help us find anyone who may have experienced, suspected or witnessed sex crimes by Gilpin.
We urge you to remember two other critical facts. First, pedophiles rarely stop molesting children, so Gilpin may be a threat even today. Second, three years ago, you and your colleagues adopted national guidelines that call for greater openness about abuse cases.
Now is the time to live up to those promises.
The choice is clear - return to the old, destructive, secretive patterns that have caused so much pain, or establish and implement new, constructive, open practices that can prevent more pain and suffering.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests