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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005

Pennsylvania Sex Abuse Victim Writes to 2,000 Parishioners

He Discloses The Rape He Suffered by Priest

Man Urges Catholics To Back Legislative Reform

In a highly unusual move, a former Greensburg man is writing to thousands of local Catholics, disclosing the rape he says he suffered by a priest and encouraging parishioners to back efforts to reform Pennsylvania's sex abuse laws.

It may be the first time this has happened, according to advocates for abuse victims.

Brian Guarino of Laurel Maryland is writing families who attend Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg, PA, where Guarino says he was “raped repeatedly by Father Roger Trot of that parish, over the course of two years.”

In February 1987, Trot pleaded guilty to corrupting a minor, a charge that was lodged after a group of parents from St. John de la Salle parish in Delmont approached the Westmoreland County District Attorney's Office with complaints about the priest fondling altar boys. Trot was sentenced to inpatient psychiatric treatment at a church-owned facility, St. Luke's Institute in Suitland, Md. That period was followed by five years probation.

“I was so ashamed and devastated, but more so because I couldn’t come forward, since I thought ‘God’ was doing this to me.” The experience “so traumatized me, I blocked the whole thing out of my mind for years,” Guarino wrote.

Guarino says that the abuse “has ruined my self-esteem and mental health as a teenager and now as an adult.” He considers Catholic officials “as guilty in this crime as Father Trot, in that they were aware of such allegations and behavior by Father Trot and others like him, but only moved suspect priests around instead of what regular society would have done to suspected child sexual abusers, JAIL.”

Guarino’s effort is supported by leaders of the nation’s largest support group for clergy molestation victims, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP.

“We admire Brian for trying to turn his personal pain into something positive,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s national director. “If he reaches even one victim, of Fr. Trot or another clergyman, that’s worth all this work.”

“Many who were abused are still suffering in shame and self-blame,” said Barbara Blaine of Chicago. She’s SNAP’s founder and president. “I hope Brian’s courage will inspire one of them to come forward and get the help and healing he or she deserves,” Blaine said.

“When Catholics learn more about abuse, kids are safer,” Clohessy said. “I hope Brian’s letter will get many parishioners talking, asking their kids if they were abused, and calling their lawmakers to help push legislative reforms so this kind of scandal won’t happen again.

SNAP has long called for extending or eliminating the criminal and civil statutes of limitations on sex crimes. They are pushing state legislation that would provide a one year “window” that would allow civil molestation lawsuits to be filed even for very old crimes.

Guarino also addressed statute reform in his letter. “We are enabling the church to continue to hide their actions behind legal trickery, because the statue of limitations for such crimes is only two years. Please contact your legislators and urge them to change the law in regards to the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of minors,” he writes.

Other abuse victims have handed out leaflets to parishioners as they attend or leave mass, especially at churches where molesters have worked, Clohessy said. But he doesn‘t know of any other abuse victims who have written every single member of a particular parish.

“Brian should be praised for educating and reaching out to parishioners like this,” Clohessy said.

Guarino, now 42, is single and works as a nuclear medicine technologist.

Roughly two years ago, church officials told Guarino that Trot was in Syracuse, NY, working as a greeter for Wal Mart.

A copy of Guarino’s letter, mailed yesterday, is below.

Dear parishioner:

When I was a ten-year-old altar boy serving at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg, PA, I was raped repeatedly by Father Roger Trot of that parish, over the course of two years. I was so ashamed and devastated, but more so because I couldn’t come forward, since I thought “God” was doing this to me. The experience so traumatized me, I blocked the whole thing out of my mind for years.

The abuse has ruined my self-esteem and mental health as a teenager and now as an adult.

With enough media exposure and time and maturity I now see that this was wrong, I and very many others like myself who have been similarly abused, have begun to pursue action against the dioceses. They are as guilty in this crime as Father Trot, in that they were aware of such allegations and behavior by Father Trot and others like him, but only moved suspect priests around instead of what regular society would have done to suspected child sexual abusers, JAIL.

I ask you: If you are a ten year old being abused by someone who in your mind represents God, how quickly are you going to run and tell someone? At that age, I didn’t even know what sex was, never mind what sexual abuse was. Times have changed, and maybe today’s children are more educated about such behavior, but I certainly wasn’t.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) can be a worthy resource if you or anyone you know, has been similarly abused. You can contact David Clohessy of SNAP at 1-877-SNAPHEALS, or via email at SNAPClohessy@aol.com. For more information on SNAP, visit their website http://www.snapnetwork.org/

You see the headlines in today’s newspapers about California’s problems with church sexual abuse and its intentional cover-up by the church. The fact is that this is happening in our own back yard and we aren’t enabling our own citizens to do anything about it. If anything, we are enabling the church to continue to hide their actions behind legal trickery, because the statue of limitations for such crimes is only 2 years.

“Why are you telling me this?” “What can I do about it?”

I beg you to be aware of this danger, and make your children aware of it as well. Secondly, please contact your legislators and urge them to change the law in regards to the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of minors. They are listed below. Give us the ability to fight back, the ability that as a ten-year-old boy, I was too ashamed to contemplate.

Sincerely,

Brian G. Guarino
341 Eagle Harbor South
Laurel, MD 20724-2463
301-219-6607

Senate: Bob Regola (R) 724-600-7002 or 717-787-6063 bregola@pasen.gov

House of Representatives: Thomas A. Tangretti (D) 724-834-6400 or 717-783-5963


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
 


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