The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, January 8, 2010
Priest accused of child sex crime; Sex abuse victims respond
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell)
We’re grateful that a courageous victim, John Katubi, has publicly exposed a predator priest. We hope his bravery will inspire others to step forward, get help, and start healing. Our hearts ache for him but we’re confident that the steps he’s taking to alert others and heal himself will be productive.
At the same time, we’re sad that this pedophile is ‘outed’ only because of Katubi’s courage and compassion. Obviously, Catholic officials should have been forthcoming about Fr. Robert Gaghan’s being credibly accused of a child sex crime. That kind of honesty is what protects kids. That kind of honesty is what bishops have been promising since 2002. Sadly, however, that kind of honesty is still lacking in the church hierarchy.
It’s not enough that the Catholic principal ‘sympathizes’ with Katubi. Talk is cheap. Action is what matters. The principal, the archbishop, and every Catholic employee should do all they can to alert others about the allegations against Gaghan, and beg anyone who was wounded to seek help.
And the obligation to reach out to others in pain who were hurt by Gaghan doesn’t just lie with church officials. Current and former Catholics and school staff and alums all have a moral duty to ask friends and family, “Did Fr. Gaghan harm you?” This simple question might help a man or woman who is quietly hurting begin to heal.
Victims of horrific child sexual abuse heal best when they break their silence and share their burden with others. This often happens when victims know they aren’t alone. Every church leader and institution involved here – the Norbertines (Gaghan’s bosses and colleagues), the staff of Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School, and the entire Philadelphia archdiocese, must do more to search out and offer aid to those struggling in silence, shame, and self blame because of predators like Gaghan.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 21 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)
Man tells of abuse by priest-uncle
By DAFNEY TALES
Philadelphia Daily News
It was the middle of the night when a young John Katubi was roused by someone who slipped into bed with him.
It was his uncle, the Rev. Robert Gaghan, a parish priest and teacher, who Katubi said fondled him under the covers and then performed oral sex on him.
Katubi said it happened that one time, but since then, his life had been wrought with emotional distress, an overwhelming sense of guilt and substance abuse. Now, Katubi, 64, a divorced father who lives in Florida, is trying to pick up the pieces.
"I realized I had problems, but the cause [for them] I realized about a year ago," he said yesterday at a demonstration outside Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School, in South Philadelphia. He had attended Neumann years after his abuse, where Gaghan taught. Neumann and Goretti merged in 2004.
"I thought this was some kind of initiation that I didn't know about," he said.
A handful of supporters joined him yesterday outside the school, at 10th and Morris streets, to request that school officials inform alumni about Gaghan and to encourage possible victims to come forward.
Katubi didn't tell anyone of his abuse until 2008, when he reported the incident to Daylesford Abbey, in Paoli, run by the Vincentian Fathers, who supervised Gaghan before his death in 1989.
An investigation "determined that Mr. Katubi's allegation of sexual abuse by the Rev. Robert Gaghan was credible," a statement released by an abbey spokesman said yesterday.
Officials had offered Katubi assistance with counseling, the statement further reads. But their offer, which Katubi's lawyer, Michelle Betti, said was $2,000 per year for 10 years, was unsatisfactory.
It's not enough because he believes that his uncle, who died of liver disease, may have molested more boys. His younger brother Robert had admitted to being another one of his alleged victims. His other brother, Andrew, he said, was abused by a friend of their uncle's, also a priest. Both later died of drug overdoses, he said.
Outside the school, Patricia Sticco, Neumann-Goretti principal, sympathized with Katubi.
"I'm sorry for what happened to you," she said to him before shaking his hand. She referred media inquiries to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Farrell urged abuse victims to contact the Victims' Assistance Office at 888-800-8780 or at phila email@example.com.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests