REPORT OF THE GRAND JURY INTO SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS BY CLERGY IN THE PHILADELPHIA ARCHDIOCESE
One night in a Poconos motel in the spring of 1981, Fr. Francis X. Trauger repeatedly tried to anally penetrate a 12-year-old altar boy and for hours manually manipulated his penis. After the 5th-grader's parents reported the abuse through their parish pastor, the Archdiocese recorded the event this way: "They shared the same bed and there were touches."
The pastor passed on other allegations against the priest, involving another boy. The Archdiocese report stated: "same bed: touches. " A few days later, Fr. Trauger himself told an Archdiocese official that "two similar events " occurred that spring with still two other boys. Subsequent years saw Church officials record other reports of "touches " and camping."
The Archdiocese's use of such delicate euphemisms had the effect of concealing the true nature of Fr. Trauger's crimes. Whether the result of intentional obfuscation or a refusal to interview victims directly, the Archdiocese's responses to abuse allegations' effectively shielded the priest from legal or criminal action and facilitated decades of sexual predation.
Ordained in 1972, Fr. Trauger was transferred eight times during his long career, each time to a parish with a school attached, each time without a warning to parish parents about the priest's predilections. Six of the transfers occurred after 1981, when the Archdiocese began recording abuse allegations.
Father Trauger is transferred following 1981 abuse reports.
The first recorded accusation against Fr. Francis Trauger reached the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Monsignor Francis J. Statkus, on August 6, 1981. Two families had reported to Fr. Anthony McGuire, the pastor of Saint Titus Church in Norristown, that Fr. Trauger had molested their young sons. One of the boys, "Evan," was 12 years old; the other, "Carl," was 13. Both had been taken by the assistant pastor, on separate occasions, overnight to the Poconos, where the priest had the boys sleep in his bed.
Monsignor Statkus recorded the barest description of the abuse itself. He wrote only that the boys shared a bed with the priest and there were "touches." He added, regarding the abuse of Evan: "reportedly, according to Msgr. McG, no sodomy." He did not record whether there was sodomy with Carl.
Monsignor Statkus wrote extensively, however, about the character of the two boys' families, apparently with an eye toward whether either would make the assaults public. Evan's mother and father were "fine parishioners, cooperative workers, and credible." They "kept this matter to themselves." Carl's parents, on the other hand, were "not stable." They reportedly had spoken to others about their son's night with Fr. Trauger. Monsignor McGuire, according to Msgr. Statkus's notes, was "of the mind that there is scandal in the parish and that Father T should be transferred."
On August 10, 1981, Fr. Trauger admitted to Msgr. Statkus's assistant, Fr. Donald Walker, that he had taken the boys to the Poconos, slept in the same bed with them, and "massaged" them. The incident with Evan took place in March 1981, while the one with Carl occurred in June 1981. Father Walker wrote that Fr. Trauger admitted that "two similar events occurred at his mountain home in the spring with two other boys from the parish" in addition to Evan and Carl.
Father Walker did not ask the identity of the two unnamed boys. There is no record that he, or anyone from the Archdiocese, contacted the known victims or their families. Rather, Fr. Walker instructed Fr. Trauger not to contact the boys again, to "desist" from one-on-one interactions with boys in general, and to secure professional help.
Monsignor Statkus's delicate description of the abuse as "touches" was not the gruesome picture the Grand Jury received. On December 11, 2003, Evan told the Grand Jury that he was 11 or 12 years old when Fr. Trauger molested him in the shower at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary and attempted to an ally rape him at a motel in the Poconos.
Evan had been an altar boy in 5th grade, under Fr. Trauger's supervision. He testified that he initially liked the attention Fr. Trauger paid to the boys in the parish, playing basketball and visiting the school's classrooms.
Evan was enthusiastic when Fr. Trauger took him to the seminary to play basketball. When the priest suggested they shower together and then moved from soaping the boy's back to fondling his penis, Evan was confused. Evan resisted efforts by Fr. Trauger to make the boy handle the priest's penis, so the priest rubbed his penis against the boy's backside. Evan said he didn't know whether what the priest had done was normal or abnormal, but he felt nauseous afterwards and could not speak with his family about what happened.
Now a grown man, Evan, a police officer, cried as he testified about what happened when Fr. Trauger took him overnight to the Poconos -- supposedly to see a house that the priest was thinking of buying and then to go skiing. Evan said that looking at the house entailed going to a rundown house, peering through windows, but not going inside. Skiing never happened at all. Instead, Fr. Trauger took the boy to a motel. Although there were two beds, the priest insisted they sleep in one to save housekeeping some work. In order to explain why the boy needed to sleep naked, the priest turned the heat up high.
Although Evan assumed a fetal position on the edge of the bed, and pretended to be asleep, the priest's hand was soon on the boy's penis. Evan described an unbearably long night of abuse. He said the priest fondled his penis for hours. He could feel the priest' s rubbing against his back. After a while, he said, the priest moved his penis toward the boy's anus. He remembered Fr. Trauger persistently trying to penetrate the boy. Evan was not sure whether the priest succeeded in penetrating him anally. Evan said the next thing he remembered was the sunlight. The priest's hand was still on the boy's penis. He could not remember getting dressed or the drive home.
Although Evan's abuse was reported (the exact nature of the report cannot be determined from Father Statkus's notes of "same bed" and "touches"), along with Carl's in 1981, no one from the Archdiocese asked Evan about it until November 2003, when he was contacted by an investigator who had been hired by the Archdiocese's law firm to assist the Review Board. Evan told the Grand Jury that he said to himself, "twenty-three years and finally somebody wants to ask me what happened." Although Evan had never even told his wife, he agreed to meet the investigator because "he had a lot to say."
Evan said he had always felt guilty about not telling anyone so that Fr. Trauger could be stopped. He did not realize that others had informed the Archdiocese about Fr. Trauger and that it was not Evan's fault that the priest actively ministered to children for 22 more years.
On August 12, 1981, six days after receiving the complaints regarding Evan and Carl, Cardinal Krol transferred Fr. Trauger to Saint Matthew, another Philadelphia parish with a school. Father Trauger had his first appointment with a psychologist who was to evaluate his mental fitness on August l3. After three one-hour appointments with Dr. Dennis Donnelly, Fr. Trauger himself reported the results to Assistant Chancellor Walker. According to Fr. Walker's notes, Fr. Trauger told him that Dr. Donnelly had "found no evidence of homosexual problems on the part of Father T but there was a gross error in judgment." Father Trauger promised that a written evaluation would follow, but none was found in the priest's file.
Following a 1982 abuse report, Father Trauger is transferred again.
A year later, on August 2, 1982, Fr. Trauger again was accused of making sexual advances toward a student at his parish school. According to Chancellor Statkus's notes, on July 22, 1982, Fr. Trauger took 14-year-old "Marty" to his Pocono mountain house, ostensibly so that the boy could help mow the grass. Marty's father told Msgr. Statkus that Fr. Trauger made the boy sleep with him in a small tent, under one blanket, although there were two bedrooms in the priest's house. Marty told his father that, throughout the night, Fr. Trauger touched and rubbed up against the boy even though he kept telling the priest to stay on his own side. The next morning, the priest drove Marty home, but while they waited for his parents, who were out, Fr. Trauger tried to tickle and "wrestle" with the boy. When his parents arrived home, they found Marty outside their property, upset and crying.
When his father asked what was wrong, Marty related the above account, though his father suspected there was more that Marty did not tell him. Marty also told his father that he did not want to accompany Fr. Trauger on a planned two-week camping trip to South Dakota.
Marty's father was a detective in the Philadelphia police department. He reported Fr. Trauger's actions to the morals division of the police department on the morning of August 2, 1982. After hearing his complaint, an unnamed morals division officer contacted David McKenzie at the Catholic Youth Organization office. McKenzie, in turn, contacted Msgr. Statkus, who arranged to meet with the father on the afternoon of August 2.
Monsignor Statkus wrote after his meeting with Marty's father, the detective: "The [parents] have not discussed this with anyone outside the family and an officer of the Morals Division. The priests of Saint Matthew were not contacted by him or by Chancery . I suggest that no mention be made to the priests ..." Monsignor Statkus also noted that he had successfully diverted Marty's father from pursuing the matter with the police or otherwise: "Convinced of our sincere resolve to take the necessary action regarding Fr. T., Mr. [...] does not plan to press any charges, police or otherwise."
When Msgr. Statkus tried to contact Fr. Trauger on August 2, 1982, the priest was in South Dakota camping with two boys from Saint Matthew's School. The Chancellor immediately asked his assistant, Fr. Walker, to contact Dr. Donnelly for reassurance that Fr. Trauger was "not of a homosexual orientation." And Cardinal Krol, who had routinely reassigned Fr. Trauger to a new parish after four similar incidents the year before, declared the case "very serious."
While Archdiocese officials quickly took steps necessary to keep Marty's father from pursuing charges criminally, their records show no action taken with regard to the two boys camping with Fr. Trauger in South Dakota. Despite the "very serious" nature of this case, there is no evidence that the Archdiocese contacted the parents. According to notes of an August 8, 1982, meeting with Fr. Trauger, Msgr. Statkus questioned the priest about Marty, but asked nothing about the other two boys, including their identity. Monsignor Statkus recorded that Fr. Trauger told him of about eight camping trips he had taken with young boys during the preceding year. Again, there was no mention of an inquiry into who these boys were or what happened on the camping trips.
At Cardinal Krol's direction, Msgr. Statkus informed Fr. Trauger that his assignment at Saint Matthew was terminated, that his faculties were suspended pending evaluation, and that he was to report to Villa Saint John Vianney Hospital, the church- affiliated treatment center in Downingtown. Fr. Trauger underwent an evaluation there on August 11, 1982. His evaluating psychologist, Phillip J. Miraglia, recommended inpatient treatment followed by an "intensive retreat" and outpatient therapy.
Dr. Miraglia found "frustration regarding sexual expression and some confusion regarding sexual object choice." However, the psychologist thought the "quality of the responses. ..benign. " The therapist understated the seriousness of the charges against Fr . Trauger in his final report of September 24, 1982, in which he commended Fr. Trauger's acceptance of "the fact that he demonstrated poor judgment in planning a camping trip with a young student." No mention was made that Fr. Trauger had, in fact, inappropriately touched at least five boys in the previous 18 months and gone "camping" with innumerable others. The weakness of the report may not be the fault of Dr. Miraglia, who may not have been made aware of any behavior other than "physical contact" with one boy while camping.
The Cardinal's response to this "very serious case" was, once again, to transfer Fr. Trauger to a different parish. On October 1, 1982, Cardinal Krol assigned Fr. Trauger to Saint Francis DeSales in West Philadelphia, a parish with a grammar school. Monsignor Statkus again instructed the priest not to take trips with boys, but he encouraged Fr. Trauger to participate in the parish's youth activities including, "visiting the school, moderating the altar boys ... as well as the CYO."
Monsignor Statkus further told Fr. Trauger "that his most recent indiscretion was viewed as a very serious matter and was filled with extremely dire circumstances which could have led to greater scandal." Although the obfuscations and vagueness of documents make it difficult to establish exactly how the Archdiocese saw Fr. Trauger's "recent indiscretion" compared to his previous ones, one important difference, and one that clearly got the attention of the Archdiocese, was that the father of the victim of the most recent indiscretion was a police detective who had made a police report.
With serious allegations against him, Father Trauger is reassigned to four more parishes.
Father Trauger was transferred four more times in his career. He went as parochial vicar to Saint Matthew, Conshohocken, in June 1985 and left in September 1988. From there he went to Annunciation B.V.M., in South Philadelphia, staying less than a year. In June 1989 he was transferred to Saint Joseph, in Aston, Delaware County, where he remained until June 1993, when Cardinal Bevilacqua appointed him parochial vicar of Saint Michael the Archangel in Levittown.
Cardinal Bevilacqua, having become Archbishop in February 1988, was responsible for three of the reassignments. With allegations described by Cardinal Krol as "extremely serious" from three named victims on file, along with several other admissions of suspicious but unexplored "events," "touches," and "camping," Archbishop Bevilacqua named Fr. Trauger Parochial Vicar of three parishes with grade schools.
There is nothing on record to indicate that the priest's activities with youth were restricted in any way or that anyone in the new parishes, including the pastors, was ever informed of the reasons why Fr. Trauger had left past assignments.
The Archdiocese in 1991 receives a report that Father Trauger is stalking a boy.
Archbishop Bevilacqua's last transfer of Fr. Trauger -- to Saint Michael the Archangel in 1993 - followed a report that in April 1991 , while Parochial Vicar at Saint Joseph's, Fr. Trauger had stalked a student at Saint John Neumann High School after encountering the boy in a center city bookstore. Even the less-than-rigorous "investigation" conducted by Archbishop Bevilacqua's staff revealed that Fr. Trauger used his standing as a priest to track down personal information about this student. First he ascertained the boy's name from Fr. Ronald Rossi, vice principal at his high school. Then he obtained the boy's phone number, address, and family information from Fr. Dominic Chiaravalle, the boy's pastor at Epiphany in South Philadelphia. The next day, Fr. Trauger used his priestly status to remove the boy from class, take him to a room, and presume to "counsel" the boy for an hour and a half about the homosexual pornography he had been perusing in the bookstore.
The boy's mother called the school, concerned when her son did not return home as scheduled. She called school officials again, very upset, when she learned the content of her son' s conversation with the unfamiliar priest. She did not know that the priest bad made sexual advances during their "conversation." Nor, it appears from records, did Archdiocese officials, because they did not question the student about the incident. (According to a February 9,2004, recommendation by the Archdiocesan Review Board, prepared after the boy was finally interviewed in 2003, he reported that, in addition to talking about sex, Fr. Trauger felt the boy's knee and upper thigh.)
School officials reported the incident to the Archdiocese on April 12, 1991: Secretary for Clergy John J. Jagodzinski recorded the report -- though not the name of the student involved -- and forwarded it to Msgr. Molloy. Monsignor Molloy interviewed Fr. Trauger on April 15. The priest admitted approaching the boy in the bookstore; introducing himself as a priest; telling the boy, who was wearing a Neumann High School jacket, that the priest knew the principal, vice principal, and several teachers at the boy's school; questioning the boy about pornography; and asking the boy's name (which the boy refused to give). The priest admitted to tracking the boy down, removing him from class, meeting alone in a small room with the boy for an hour and a half, and questioning whether the boy thought he was gay.
In a four-page memo recording his interview with Fr. Trauger, Msgr. Molloy still did not mention the boy's name. Finally, after Fr. Rossi, the vice principal, called for a second time about the incident, Msgr. Molloy recorded the boy's last name -- "Logue."
Monsignor Molloy testified that even though he knew of Fr. Trauger's history of abuse when he was dealing with the incident in 1991, Archdiocese officials never interviewed the boy. Monsignor Molloy attempted to justify the failure to remove Fr . Trauger from his parish or restrict his access to schools and children, claiming that the Archdiocese lacked "hard evidence" against the priest. Knowing that Fr. Trauger was in a position to stalk, harass and abuse Archdiocese children, Church officials allowed him to continue in his position as Parochial Vicar at Saint Joseph's. Two years later he was transferred to Saint Michael the Archangel in Levittown.
Cardinal Bevilacqua assigns Father Trauger to another parish with a school.
When Archbishop Bevilacqua appointed Fr. Trauger as Parochial Vicar of Saint Michael in 1993, Archdiocese officials knew of accusations against the priest by four named boys (Evan, Carl, Marty, and the Logue boy). They knew of two other boys whom Fr. Trauger had admitted touching inappropriately. And they knew of many more who had gone "camping" with the priest.
Yet in these 10 years of accusations, Archdiocese officials never sought to question a single victim directly to find out what Fr. Trauger had done. Nor did they seek out the families of known victims so they could stop the continuing abuse of their children. Instead, they recorded hearsay accusations and determined that they lacked "hard evidence." Then the Archbishop would reassign the priest, or not, apparently depending on whether it was necessary to prevent exposure or scandal.
In his testimony before the Grand Jury, Msgr. Edward Cullen, the Vicar General, admitted that the Archdiocese's investigation into the 1991 stalking of the Logue boy was not handled correctly and that the boy and his family should have been interviewed. He explained that Fr. Trauger was not endorsed for a high school chaplaincy in 1991 because it would "make sense to not put that person in a high school." In light of that recognition of the risk Fr. Trauger posed, Msgr. Cullen was at a loss to explain why Cardinal Bevilacqua appointed Fr. Trauger as Parochial Vicar at Saint Michael, which he described as having a large school.
On December 18, 2003, after Fr. Trauger's files were subpoenaed by this Grand Jury , the Archdiocese announced that it was removing him from the ministry, finding the allegations against him "credible." Father Trauger had admitted on December 12 to Secretary for Clergy Lynn that he had sexually abused the three boys who had made allegations against him.
Father Trauger appeared before the Grand Jury and was given an opportunity to answer questions concerning the allegations against him. He chose not to do so.
Father John P. Schmeer, ordained in 1964, was pastor at Saint Martin of Tours in New Hope when he was placed on leave on May 23, 2004. Before that he was a science teacher and guidance counselor in the Philadelphia Archdiocese's school system for 25 years. When young male students came to him for counseling, Fr. Schmeer questioned them about masturbation and then fondled their penises.
The priest took boys' to houses in Gladwyne and at the New Jersey Shore. In the late 1960s, he provided one 14-year-old, "Kevin, " with pornography, instructed the boy to masturbate, and watched as an older girl tried to seduce him. On another occasion, Fr. Schmeer stripped and fondled the boy and, anally penetrated him with his finger in the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary swimming pool. The priest's friend and fellow teacher, Ernest Durante, sometimes watched as Fr. Schmeer abused the student.
Older students at Roman Catholic High School harassed and sexually abused Kevin because of his reputation as "Father Schmeer's boy." In March 2002, he told Archdiocese managers that he knew of 15 or 16 other boys whom Fr. Schmeer had abused.
In response, the Church officials conducted a thorough investigation of the victim. The Archdiocese probed Kevin's background, including tax records and court proceedings from his two divorces. An investigator hired by the Archdiocese's law firm obtained the victim's bank records without permission or authorization.
In March 2004, additional victims came forward following the publication of news stories reporting that Kevin was suing the Archdiocese and had named Fr. Schmeer as his abuser. Archdiocese managers, knowing that these other allegations corroborated Kevin's complaint, remained silent while unaware parishioners loyally rallied around Fr. Schmeer and questioned Kevin's motives.
Father Schmeer abuses Kevin at Roman Catholic High School; when Kevin complains, the Archdiocese investigates the victim.
Kevin was a freshman at Roman Catholic High School when his science teacher, Fr. John Schmeer, singled him out -- or so he thought -- for frequent guidance counseling sessions. Kevin was a small boy, late to mature, with an uninvolved father. According to the handwritten notes of Msgr. Lynn, in an interview with Archdiocese managers on April 2,2002, Kevin told them he was honored at first. He considered Fr. Schmeer his spiritual leader, mentor, and "man in [his] life." His mother approved.
Kevin also gave an account of his abuse to a detective from the District Attorney's office on June 18, 2002. He told her that in his first counseling session, Fr. Schmeer began to talk about masturbation and asked the boy whether he did it. Kevin described being embarrassed, but said that Fr. Schmeer did not touch him that day. During his second session, the priest and teacher again talked about masturbation. This time, he pulled his chair close to the student so they were face-to-face with knees touching. The priest then reached over and grabbed Kevin's penis through his pants. Father Schmeer asked whether Kevin was "getting an erection" and proceeded to rub the boy's genitals for about twenty minutes.
Kevin said this pattern continued twice a week for months. Father Schmeer fondled the boy when they met, always talking about masturbation, "impure thoughts about girls," or "whatever perverted questions he could ask about sex."
The abuse soon moved beyond counseling sessions. One incident, at the Saint Charles Seminary pool, greatly upset Kevin. He described how Fr. Schmeer took him to the end of the pool and had the boy sit on his lap. Kevin went on:
In 2 seconds he had my bathing suit off and his hands on my ass. I thought he was gonna drown me. He grabbed my testicles and penis from behind, they were in his hand. I started crying. Then he put his finger up my ass. I couldn't stop crying, I was freaked.
Kevin said the priest had an erection and was rubbing up against the boy. Father Ernest Durante was in the pool, watching.
Kevin was bothered by his inability to break away from the priest. "I just beat myself up, that after this happened to me, I still returned to the guidance office," he said. "I don't know why I kept going back to the counseling sessions." Kevin described feeling "hooked or brainwashed." He explained, "I wanted to tell my mom, but felt I couldn't because I felt I let it go on too long."
Kevin said that after the pool incident, Fr. Schmeer no longer fondled the boy in the guidance sessions. He did, however, take the boy to houses he said he owned with Fr. Durante. In a "big expensive" home off the Gladwyne exit of the Schuylkill Expressway, Kevin said Fr. Schmeer took him to a room filled with "Playboy books." The priest told the teenager it was "OK to masturbate while looking at pictures of girls." Father Schmeer then instructed the boy to "go ahead," and left the room. Kevin said he did not stay in the room but walked around the house. As he entered one room, he saw Fr. Schmeer and Fr. Durante sitting on a large leather couch, masturbating.
In the spring of his freshman year, Kevin and two other boys were taken by Fr. Schmeer and Fr. Durante to a house on the New Jersey Shore. This time, Fr. Schmeer left the 14-year-old in a room with a "17 -year-old very nice looking girl." Kevin described how the two teens were talking, and then, "all of a sudden this girl gets up and kisses me and rams her tongue down my throat." He said he was shy and ran from the room. As he pushed the door open, he bumped into Fr. Schmeer, who had been watching the episode.
Kevin described as "horrific" what older students at Roman Catholic High School did to him because of his reputation as Fr. Schmeer's boy. Kevin told the Archdiocese and the detective that he was assaulted four or five times by older students in the school basement. Groups of students would "beat me up and hold me and grind up against me until they ejaculated."
Kevin said by the end of his freshman year he wanted to commit suicide. He said it was unbearable when he returned the next year, and he persuaded his mother to allow him to transfer to Roxborough High School. He said he was in therapy for the next 20 years. He was 33 years old before he could talk about what happened. He was 49 before he reported the abuse to the Archdiocese.
When questioned by Msgr. Lynn on April 2, 2002, Fr. Schmeer denied ever abusing Kevin and claimed not even to recall the name. He admitted, though, that his friend "Ernie" Durante was assigned to live in Gladwyne at the time. He said that he did take boys swimming and could have taken some to the shore.
Father Schmeer agreed to go for an evaluation at Saint John Vianney Hospital in Downingtown. There he again denied the allegations against him, but talked extensively about his relationship with Fr. Durante, which had ended abruptly when Fr. Durante left the priesthood in 1987 to get married. Father Schmeer told the therapists he was devastated because Fr. Durante, with whom he co-owned a house at the shore, had kept his affair with his future wife secret for five years.
Saint John Vianney's therapists concluded that they could not substantiate the allegations against Fr. Schmeer, but they did so expressly "based upon all available data." This data included Fr. Schmeer's denials, Msgr. Lynn's representation that there had "never been any other reports of Father Schmeer being involved with any adolescents or for that matter with anyone else sexually," and Msgr. Lynn's assertion that "an ex-priest friend of Father Schmeer's" reported that he had never seen the alleged behavior.
Monsignor Lynn apparently failed to inform the therapists that Kevin claimed to know 15 or 16 others who had been abused, that Fr. Schmeer had previously been accused of sexual misconduct -- in 1976 with a parish cook -- or that the "ex -priest friend" who vouched for Fr. Schmeer was, himself, implicated in the abuse of Kevin. Even so, the therapists suggested that the Archdiocese might want to investigate further. Cardinal Bevilacqua permitted Fr. Schmeer to continue on as pastor at Saint Martin of Tours in New Hope.
Handwritten notes from March 3, 2002 in the Secret Archives file recorded that Church officials' investigation concentrated on questioning and re-questioning Kevin, with direction coming from the Archdiocese's lawyer. Those notes of a consultation with counsel record instructions that Msgr. Lynn not tell Kevin that Fr. Schmeer had denied the allegation, but instead tell him that the investigation was continuing. Monsignor Lynn recorded numerous questions he was to ask Kevin, as well as counsel's instructions to "get details -- even unimportant."
The Archdiocese file on Fr. Schmeer reflects an extensive probe of Kevin, with 18 pages of records investigating relatives, tax records, any criminal history (none was found), and his two divorces. It also contains Kevin's confidential bank records, which were obtained without permission or authorization. The file includes high school records not only for Kevin, but also for three other boys with whom he attended Roman Catholic High School. No effort to interview these boys is recorded.
The Archdiocese finds the report of Father Schmeer's abuse "not credible," but media coverage leads to other victims coming forward.
On December 5, 2003, following an Archdiocesan Review Board investigation into Kevin' s and others' accusations, the Archdiocese decreed that "the allegation lodged against Reverend John P. Schmeer is not credible." This decision was based, in part, on Kevin's reluctance to be interviewed yet again. All that had come of his previous repeated interviews with Archdiocese managers was an investigation of him.
Kevin, frustrated with the Archdiocese's response, filed a lawsuit on March 24, 2004, against the Archdiocese, naming Fr. Schmeer as his abuser. Following the appearance of stories in the media, Fr. Schmeer denied the allegations from the pulpit and went to several classes of the parish grade school to reassure the children of his innocence.
On March 29, 2004, two more victims of Fr. Schmeer came forward with reports much like Kevin's.
Nathan reported to the Archdiocese that in 1968 he had been falsely accused of skipping class at Roman Catholic High School and was summoned to Fr. Schmeer's office. Nathan mentioned that to get to Fr. Schmeer's office, he had to pass through Fr. Durante's office. The report written by Msgr. Lynn states:
Once in Schmeer's office [Nathan] said Schmeer talked about sexual relationships, erections, and masturbation, then reached over and grabbed [Nathan's] penis, over his clothes. [Nathan] said that he ran out the door and when he returned to class, he recalls other students asking if he saw "Schmeer the Queer."'
Clarke reported that he was molested by Fr. Schmeer in 1986, the summer between his graduation from Saint Titus grade school and his freshman year at Bishop Kendrick High School. He told the Archdiocese's victim assistance coordinator, Martin Frick, that Fr. Schmeer took him, his 10-year- old brother Marty, and another 10-year-old, "Gary," to the priest's house on the New Jersey Shore. When the younger boys were not present, Fr. Schmeer questioned the 15-year-old Clarke about masturbation and wet dreams. Father Schmeer then had Clarke sleep in the same bedroom, which had twin beds, with the priest.
Clarke told Frick that he awoke during the night to find Fr. Schmeer at the side of his bed with the priest's hand in the boy's shorts. Clarke reported that Fr. Schmeer made him ejaculate -- the first time the boy had ever done so.
Archdiocese managers remain silent while parishioners rally behind Father Schmeer.
Even with these new allegations, echoing those of Kevin, Fr. Schmeer remained pastor at Saint Martin of Tours for nearly two more months, until he was eventually placed on leave on May 23, 2004. His parishioners, apparently unaware of the other allegations, rallied around him and attacked Kevin's motives. Some parishioners raised funds in their priest's defense. Signs posted in the church's front windows read "God Bless a Great Pastor," "Pray for Father Schmeer and his False Accuser," and "It's all About Money -- 30 Pieces of Silver." According to a news report, Fr. Schmeer "made a quiet exit" from Saint Martin after celebrating Mass on May 23,2004. While loyal, uninformed parishioners rallied on behalf of Fr. Schmeer and attacked Kevin, the Archdiocese managers, who knew of the additional reports, said nothing.
On May 25, 2004, Msgr. Lynn met with Fr. Schmeer. The Secretary for Clergy's notes from that meeting allude to three people who provided information concerning the allegations of Clarke and Nathan to the Review Board's investigator. Monsignor Lynn carefully avoided writing down any incriminating information the witnesses might have provided, but did record Fr. Schmeer's defenses and explanations. He wrote, for example:
With regard to allegations of "Gary," Father Schmeer remarked that it would be unusual for a teacher to escort a student to his office. Normally, that happened only if the student were headed to the discipline office. Father Schmeer denied the use of the language alleged and stated that he was always careful and mindful that the Lord said not to give scandal to the children.
With regards to the situation [a male with the same last name as Clarke] described, Father Schmeer pointed out how it would have been almost impossible for such an exchange to take place in a corridor in a high school while class was going on. He found this to be incredulous.
The Secretary for Clergy recorded Fr. Schmeer's "hopes" that "more investigation would be done on [Nathan's and Clarke's] families." In accord with those hopes, Msgr. Lynn asked James Bock, the Associate to the Vicar for Administration to: "gain better information on [Clarke's] Family," to find out "the nature of [Clarke's] learning disability," and to question Nathan's wife about "mental problems" he might have. The Grand Jury finds that, even in May 2004, Msgr. Lynn's "investigations" of abuse allegations were designed more to discredit the victims and conceal evidence of their abuse than to ascertain whether their alleged abuser was in fact a sexual abuser of children.
A second review finds allegations against Father Schmeer credible.
The Archdiocesan Review Board conducted a further investigation and review of Fr. Schmeer based on the additional allegations which were made following the publicity surrounding Kevin's civil lawsuit. On October 28, 2004, following the Review Board's new finding that the allegations made against Fr. Schmeer were, in fact, credible, the Archdiocese prohibited the priest from further public ministry.
On December 29, 2004, faced with the possibility of involuntary laicization, Fr. Schmeer agreed to live "a supervised life of prayer and penance" at Villa Saint Joseph, a retirement home for priests.
Father Schmeer appeared before the Grand Jury and was given an opportunity to answer questions concerning the allegations against him. He chose not to do so.
Monsignor Francis A. Giliberti, ordained in 1970, was said by his students at Cardinal O'Hara High School to run a "sort of boot camp to stop masturbation" at his beach house in New Jersey. His methods, he bragged to one student, included walking in on boys while they were masturbating.
The priest abused at least two students who went to him for help, fearing damnation because of their "masturbation problem." One victim described how Msgr. Giliberti insisted on "inspecting" the boy's penis to determine whether it was "traumatized," ordered him to make himself erect, and offered to perform oral sex. The priest told the other student he could introduce him to gay men. These activities took place in the mid-1970s, and were reported to the Archdiocese in 2002.
Both victims who came forward were traumatized by Msgr. Giliberti's abuse. One doused his penis with lighter fluid and set it on fire, his self loathing was so intolerable. The other lived through years of suicidal tendencies, alcoholism, and failed relationships. Both were incensed by what they saw as the hypocrisy of their Church.
Following these allegations, Cardinal Bevilacqua permitted Msgr. Giliberti to continue as pastor at Nativity B.V.M. in Media without restrictions on his access to children and without informing the parish of the allegations against him. On April 25, 2002, one week after the first victim brought his detailed accusations. to the Archdiocese, Cardinal Bevilacqua was quoted at a press conference assuring the public that no priest "credibly accused of misconduct with a minor" has remained in ministry. In December 2003, the allegations against Monsignor Giliberti were determined to be credible and he was forced to retire.
"Jay" informs Archdiocese leaders that Monsignor Giliberti abused him at Cardinal O'Hara High School; a week later Cardinal Bevailacqua gives the public false assurances.
On April 18, 2002, Jay, a 40-year-old divorced and unemployed man, came to Archdiocese headquarters accompanied by his parents to tell Secretary for Clergy William Lynn of his abuse 25 years earlier. Monsignor Francis Giliberti, ordained in 1970, had been Jay's sophomore-year religion teacher at Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield in 1976-1977. Jay was 15 years old in the spring of 1977 when the abuse began.
With his parents out of the room, Jay told Msgr. Lynn and his assistant, Fir. Vincent Welsh, about the events that led to his molestation. According to Fr. Welsh's notes, Msgr. Giliberti in his theology class led "graphic sexual discussions," but instructed the boys that "any sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin." Jay said that he felt "doomed to hell" at the age of 15 because of masturbation. So, when Msgr. Giliberti offered to help students who "have this problem," Jay went to see him one day after school. They discussed masturbation, and Msgr. Giliberti instructed the boy to go to confession as often as he needed.
The priest also invited Jay to stop by his rectory at Nativity B.V.M. and to accompany him to his beach house in Brigantine, New Jersey, during the summer. Jay told the Archdiocese managers that Msgr. Giliberti claimed he had taken others to his shore house and "helped [them] with masturbation problems."
In one such discussion of masturbation in Msgr. Giliberti's rectory room, the priest asked the boy to drop his pants. Telling Jay that his penis might be "traumatized," Msgr. Giliberti proceeded to inspect it. According to Fr. Welsh's notes, the priest "held [the student's] penis, peeled back [ the] opening and stroked him. " Monsignor Giliberti said he needed to see the boy's penis erect and instructed him to go into the bathroom "to get erect." The boy tried to obey, but could not.
Jay said he felt confused and ashamed, but he continued to meet with Msgr. Giliberti. He accompanied the priest to his beach house on several occasions. The teacher served his student beer. They discussed girls, and Jay's masturbation "problem." One time, Msgr. Giliberti asked the boy to strip and show the priest exactly how he masturbated. Jay said he complied and "showed him quickly ." Other times, the priest offered to sleep with the boy and to perform oral sex on him.
Jay told Msgr. Lynn and Fr. Welsh how he became overwhelmed by shame and fear. He felt he could not trust his own instincts for appropriate boundaries. He made a mold of a penis and brought it to the rectory to show the priest. When Msgr. Giliberti told him that, as a boy, he had exposed himself to his sister, young Jay "followed his lead," doing the same to his sister. As an adult, Jay said he abused his wife, touching her in unwelcome ways as she slept.
Jay said he told no one about his humiliation as an adolescent. He said he had "wanted to be perfect" for his "very ethical" parents. So he took out his shame and guilt on himself, one day dousing his penis with lighter fluid and setting it on fire. He eventually told his parents about Msgr. Giliberti's abuses, sparing them the specifics.
At Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, which he attended for two years, he also told two priests. They advised him to "let go" of it -that it was his word against the Church's.
After Jay told the Archdiocese managers the details of his abuse, his parents joined the conversation. They expressed their outrage and sense of betrayal. They told how much their family had suffered. Jay's father described how he had "watched [his son's] life go down [the] tubes." Jay's wife had divorced him, and he had lost a good job. The parents had brought him to the Archdiocese offices in the desperate hope that, by telling his story and confronting Msgr. Giliberti, as he asked to do, their 40-year-old son could finally overcome his shame and move on with his life.
Monsignor Lynn twice told the parents what he had already told Jay: that their son was the only person to ever make allegations against Msgr. Giliberti -- a point he often emphasized in conversations with victims (even on occasion when it was not true). Monsignor Lynn had to know from his experience with numerous victims how desperately they wanted to know they were not the only ones.
When the Archdiocese managers interviewed Msgr. Giliberti later that day, he denied ever having abused Jay, though he remembered the boy coming to him for confession. He told Msgr. Lynn and Fr. Welsh that masturbation was only a secondary issue and that there were "2 other things" that were troubling the student. The priest said that "the seal" of confession prevented him from explaining further.
Cardinal Bevilacqua allowed Msgr. Giliberti, whom he had appointed as pastor at Nativity B.V.M. in June 1991, to remain there, even though it had a school attached to it. Msgr. Giliberti was still pastor when Cardinal Bevilacqua announced at a press conference on April 25, 2002: "I can assure all the people here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that there is no priest in any parish or any ministry whatsoever that was credibly accused of misconduct with a minor." The press conference took place one week after Jay had reported his abuse by Msgr. Giliberti.
Monsignor Giliberti abuses "Patrick" at Cardinal O'Hara High School.
Patrick contacted Archdiocese managers on September 11, 2002, when he was 44 years old. Like Jay, he had been a student of Msgr. Giliberti's at Cardinal O'Hara High School in the mid-1970s. Because Patrick lived in California, his allegations were recorded from a telephone call and repeated in a letter to Msgr. Lynn dated September 17, 2002.
Patrick told Msgr. Lynn that Msgr. Giliberti had been his freshman-year theology teacher. Patrick was 14 years old. The priest held "informal confession" in his empty classroom, and it was here that Patrick confessed his struggles with masturbation. Like Jay, this extremely devout boy had problems reconciling his sexual urges with what he was learning in school -that masturbation was "a sinful act in the eyes of the church."
Monsignor Giliberti said he could help the boy stop masturbating. He invited Patrick to come to the rectory to talk on several occasions. Patrick wrote that, during these talks, Msgr. Giliberti mentioned that he had a house at the New Jersey Shore "where he took boys my age during the summer months to help them work through their problems." The priest, he said, bragged to him that he had cured one boy of masturbating by walking in on him in the shower during the act. Patrick had heard that Msgr. Giliberti conducted "a sort of boot camp to stop masturbation." Patrick was frightened by the prospect and never went to the shore.
In the summer of 1975, however, when he was 17, Patrick confided in Msgr. Giliberti that he was having sexual problems when he tried to become intimate with girls. He told Msgr. Giliberti he thought he must be homosexual.
The priest's counsel was to offer to introduce him "to half a dozen gay men in downtown Media if I thought I wanted to try it out." Patrick wrote that, when he registered shock and revulsion, Msgr. Giliberti scoffed: "See you're not gay! And you can have an erection any time you want." The priest then pointed to his bedroom and instructed the boy to strip, lie on the bed and "prove it to yourself ... give yourself an erection."
Patrick wrote that he submitted "to this unbelievably peculiar command" only because of the "extremely vulnerable state" in which he found himself. He described lying nude in the priest's chilly bedroom surrounded by the crucifix and religious items as "the most uncomfortable situation imaginable." When Msgr. Giliberti then walked in and watched as the boy stroked his penis with no success, the boy was devastated. The priest watched as the boy dressed, then heard his confession.
Patrick wrote that he stopped going to church after that episode and never spoke to Msgr. Giliberti again. In 2002, he told Msgr. Lynn that he had been in and out of therapy since he was 21 years old. For years, he said, he suffered through "suicidal tendencies, alcoholism, and failed relationships." He said he became angry after the episode at the rectory, but that he became angrier still after "reading about the scandalous behavior of some of the priests, and the protection they received from their superiors (at the expense of children!)." He wrote to Msgr. Lynn, "It makes my own experience all the more disturbing to learn that the Church actually protected these pedophiles that hypocritically lived out their sexual fantasies while preaching a morality that bore a crushing and destructive weight on the innocent and ever-so-vulnerable psyche of children like myself."
The Archdiocese responds by seeking a self-serving "diagnosis" and taking no action.
On October 18, 2002, after Jay informed Msgr. Lynn of his abuse and after Patrick brought a second allegation, Msgr. Giliberti was sent for a psychological evaluation, performed by Kelly Counseling and Consulting.
Monsignor Giliberti's evaluators found that "test data " could not confirm or deny allegations made against him. Despite separate allegations that the priest's actions had devastated at least two lives, the evaluators hired by the Archdiocese found, "There is no reason to conclude from the interview [with the priest] or the test data that Monsignor Giliberti is a threat to the physical or emotional health of those to whom he ministers."
Absent the threat of public scandal -neither victim having threatened to sue or publicly expose Msgr. Giliberti -- Cardinal Bevilacqua permitted the priest to continue as pastor at Nativity B.V.M. His parishioners were not informed of the charges against him, and he enjoyed full access to boys like the traumatized ones who, as adults, had met with Msgr. Lynn.