Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Catholic Victim of Clerical Sex Abuse: "I Have an Emptiness Where My Soul Used To Be"

As a teenager, the witness, a bearded man in a gray suit, said he was raped and sodomized by a family friend.

He became "very despondent and depressed," so he told his mother what had happened. She advised him to go see a priest.

The priest that his mother sent him to was Father Stanley M. Gana, one of the premiere sexual abusers of minors employed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Soon, Father Gana was practicing "masturbation and sodomy" on the 14-year-old boy. It went on for five years, with Father Gana virtually taking over every aspect of the victim's life.

Father Gana didn't want the victim to have any friends his age. So he put the boy to work on a 110-acre farm he owned in northern Pennsylvania. Father Gana wouldn't let him go to his high school prom or senior week down the shore. Instead, Father Gana wanted the victim to spend time with him, either at his farm, or in his bedroom in the rectory, so he could abuse him.

When the victim graduated from high school, he wanted to become a Navy SEAL, but Father Gana said no, that would be evil. The priest told the boy to go to nursing school instead, which he did.

When the victim finally found the courage to break away from Father Gana, he got hooked on drugs and alcochol. He sought help from a psychologist and a therapist. Besides being a recovering addict, the victim also is disabled, and he told the jury his marriage ended in divorce.

A nun at Catholic Social Services that the victim described as "Sister Mary from hell" told him he was spending too much time in counseling. He needed God in his life, the nun said; she told him that prayer would heal his wounds. But on the witness stand Wednesday, the victim, now 48, told the jury in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse case that he might be beyond help.

"I have an emptiness where my soul used to be," he said.

The victim's mother was a member of a Charismatic Catholic group that met at Ascension of Our Lord in Kensington. Father Gana was the leader of the group. In court, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington asked the witness to describe was a charismatic Catholic was. The group was into speaking in tongues and prophecy, the witness said. They believed that "your life can be enriched more through the Holy Spirit than Jesus Christ."

The victim didn't want to go to the priest, but his mother insisted. When he met with Father Gana, the priest took him into a private room for a one-on-one counseling session. The priest listened attentively while the boy described how he had been abused. When it was all over the priest stood up, and said, "I'm gonna do something that's going to make you feel uncomfortable." And then the priest gave him a hug.

It did make the boy feel uncomfortable, but the priest said he had to learn that men can show each other affection without it being about sex.

The victim began attending the meetings of the charismatic Catholics. After the meetings, the priest would bring some Catholics up to his room at the rectory. They would laugh and talk and joke with the priest. Soon, the victim was one of the regulars in Father Gana's room.

When they were alone together, Father Gana would give the boy a hug, then a kiss on the cheek. Soon, they were sharing the same bed.

"I had to learn that if I slept in the same bed with a man, that didn't mean he wanted to have sex with
me," the witness told the jury. When the victim expressed doubts to his mother about whether the priest was planning to do to victimize him the same way the family friend did, his mother told him, "she would never think that Father Gana would do that," the victim said.

But soon, Father Gana was masturbating and sodomizing the boy. "I'm talking anal sex," he told the jury. The priest convinced the boy's parents that their son, who was drinking and smoking marijuana, would be safer working at the priest's farm, and leading a clean country life.

"My job was to run the farm," the witness testified. What did he know about farm work, Blessington wanted to know. Nothing, he said. But he related what Father Gana had told him, "It's not that hard to take a shovel and move shit around."

That first summer at the farm, the victim stayed there with his parents and two younger brothers. His father was an unemployed maintenance man. Father Gana would sexually abuse the victim in the priest's upstairs bedroom while his parents slept in a downstairs bedroom.

The priest manipulated the boy's family by telling them that he was a troubled youth who needed the priest's guidance to stay out of trouble, and off the streets. And Father Gana told the victim that his parents were evil, and did not treat him right.

"He always told me that he loved me," the witness said.

Did you believe him, Blessington wanted to know.

"Yes," he said, adding, "and I believed I loved him."

In subsequent summers, the victim was the only member of the family who stayed at the farm. But Father Gana had other roommates: two boys who took turns sharing the priest's bedroom with him. Each boy was being sexually abused by Father Gana.

Indeed, the priest, who was in his 40s, bragged about his prowess that he was simultaneously "bedding three guys," the witness told the jury. "There was a rotational schedule."

But Father Gana always told him, "I was his number one boy," the witness said.

Father Gana bought the victim a car, and when the summer was over, he let him take it back to high school. When the victim's father borrowed the car, the priest had a fit. He told the victim to tell his father the car needed to be fixed, so he couldn't use it.

You lied to your parents because the priest told you to? Blessington asked.

Yes I did, he said. "My father would ..." and then the witness started crying.

"Just give me a minute," he said. When he composed himself, he explained that his father had to drive his old broken-down car "to work in the snow and the rain" because of Father Gana.

Gana took the victim and other boys on trips to Disney World, the Jersey shore, Niagra Falls and Notre Dame. The abuse never stopped. "The rotation continued," the witness testified.

One boy ran away from Father Gana's farm and was replaced by another one, the witness told the jury. When the new boy entered the rotation, the witness said he asked Father Gana if he was having sex with the new boy. When the priest finally admitted it, "I was pissed off," the witness said.

The priest's solution was to have both boys in bed with him at the same time. But then Father Gana got jealous. He left the farm one night, and called back at 2:30 in the morning, obviously drunk, and "accusing me of having sex with" the new boy, the witness said.

Other people noticed the life the priest was living, and didn't think it was right. Father Gana's brother went to Cardinal John Krol, the victim testified, and told him that Father Gana was living on a farm with young boys.

But the priest told the victim on the witness stand that he beat the rap by diverting the investigatory efforts of the archdiocese to a pastor who was having an affair with his housekeeper. The priest told the victim the archdiocese investigation "was a big joke," and that "he got away with it."

When he was in nursing school, the victim told a fellow student about what was going on with Father Gana. The priest was becoming more jealous. "He was accusing me of going out with the girls," the witness said. He had finally had enough.

When the priest came to see him, "I turned around and told him I didn't want to see him anymore," the witness said.

Depressed and suicidal, the victim told a psychologist about the abuse. But he was confused. He said he didn't want to have sex with the priest, but he did want to stay friends. "I thought I loved him," he said. So the psychologist's advice was to stay friends with the priest.

But every time he tried to see Gana as a friend, "he pressured me for sex," the victim said. He did not give into the priest. He also realized, "what Gana had done to me wasn't love; he abused me."

The victim finally decided to tell his mother what Father Gana had done to him. He told the jury what his mother said to him upon learning the truth: "You don't expect me to stop being friends with him because of this, do you?"

The victim then related to the jury how he turned the tables on the priest. He asked the priest for a loan so that his sister could buy a house. The priest gave him $15,000 in cash. The witness testified he subsequently told Father Gana to forgive the $15,000 loan, and give him another $10,000, or else the victim would report him to the archdiocese.

Father Gana forgave the loan, and also wrote the victim four checks totaling $10,000, the witness testified.

In 1995, 13 years after the sexual abuse with Father Gana had ended, the victim got sober, and went to see the archdiocese. He ended up in the office of Monsignor William J. Lynn, secretary for the clergy.

"I was reporting Gana's sexual abuse of me," the victim testified. He said he also told Msgr. Lynn about the other victims that Gana had abused. "I can find them, I know where they live," the victim testified that he told the monsignor.

But Lynn didn't think that was a good idea. "Don't contact them," the victim said Lynn told them. "They may be healed, and I might cause them more harm."

The victim wanted a cash settlement from the archdiocese. He also had another demand: he wanted the archdiocese to take out a full-page ad in The Philadelphia Inquirer that said Father Gana was a pedophile, and leave a number that anybody could call who had been victimized by Gana.

But Lynn didn't think much of that idea either. He told the victim that such an ad was "not possible" because "it would impinge on Gana's rights."

Lynn told the victim he would investigate his allegations and get back to him. Lynn asserted that Gana was not a pedophile, but an alcoholic who needed treatment. Lynn also told the victim, "the archdiocese does not make financial settlements."

A year later, the victim again phoned Lynn to complain that Father Gana was stil an active priest in the archdiocese, and he asked "about him [Gana] being around young boys."

That led to a meeting between the victim and Lynn at archdiocese headquarters. Lynn told the victim that Father Gana had denied the allegations, the victim testified. The archdiocese had a policy of only paying for therapy if the accused priest had confessed, Lynn told the victim. Since Father Gana had denied the allegations, the archdiocese didn't have to pay for the victim's therapy. But out of "charitable concern," Lynn told the victim, the archdiocese was going to pay his therapy bills

But Lynn was not telling the truth. As the jury knew from previous testimony, Father Gana had been sent to a treatment facility, where he had confessed that the allegations were true.

In 1997, the victim met with Lynn for a third time. By that time, the victim said, "I am an unemployed, depressed junkie on disability." Then he corrected himself to say that at that time he was sober.

The victim testified that he kept pressing Lynn to allow him to meet with Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. "I thought this was being hidden from the cardinal," the victim testified. He believed that Bevilacqua's "underlings" were keeping the truth from him.

He testified that he was thinking, "If only the cardinal knew, only to find out that the cardinal himself was the ringleader of the whole damn thing."

He asked for a cash settlement, but was offered assistance from Catholic Social Services. In 2002, the victim again asked the archdiocese for a cash settlment, but got two letters back from archdiocese lawyers saying, "There would be no settlement," the witness said.

On cross-examination, Thomas Bergstrom asked the victim in a hushed and somber voice if he knew that when he met with Msgr. Lynn in 1996 and 1997, was he aware that his complaints about Father Gana had resulted in the priest being removed as pastor of his parish.

No, he said.

Did the victim know that his complaints about Father Gana had resulted in the priest being reassigned as a chaplain to a convent of Carmelite nuns?

Yes, he said.

Bergstrom asked the victim about his abuse at the hands of a family friend, and his mother's decision to send him to see Father Gana.

"From the frying pan into the fire?" Bergstrom said.

Yes, the victim said.

Bergstrom turned to the victim's financial demands. The defense lawyer pointed out that the victim had extracted $25,000 from Father Gana. Yes, the victim said. Bergstrom asked about the lawsuit he wanted to file against the archdiocese.

The victim said he discovered he "couldn't sue because the statute of limitations barred me." He did say, under Bergstrom's questionning, that he had asked the archdiocese for $375,000 in damages.

When the lawyer suggested that demand had grown to between $500,000 and $1 million, the victim said his highest demand was for a "mid to high six-figures."

Bergstom looked at the judge and said he had no more questions. The victim, looking grim, and with his head down, walked out of the courtroom.

6 comments:

  1. I am waiting for the single situation where any catholic called the police. The only moral ethical response to a report of criminal sexual abuse of a minor is to call the cops. No catholic ever calls the cops on a priest. No priest, bishop,mor monsignor, ever called the cops on a priest. Breathtaking.

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    Replies
    1. Kopride: Many Catholic in Ireland tried to report incidences of Priest Pedophilia to the Gardai, the police, and they went no where, because members of the Gardai, were "Good Catholics," and cooperated with the Church rather than with victims. That is one of the reasons why about 100,000 Survivors have sued the Irish Government, successfully! So now, the Irish taxpayer is paying off the debt of the Priest Pedophilia Scandal in Ireland, while the Church and some religious orders, like the Christian Brothers claim bankruptcy or insolvency!

      Delete
  2. Another criminally negligent mother offering up her child to the freak show. I'm glad these evil men are on trial. I think the parents need to be called to account also.

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  3. Up until recently, details of the Priest Pedophilia Scandal have looked like "Organized Crime," because every member of the clergy has stood together under the law of silence or "omerta!" They have refused to implicate their fellow priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, etc. When the first priest is convicted for endangering children and teens AND sent to prison, it will cause the lower members of the clergy to think twice about whether or not they are willing to go to jail and do Hard Time for protecting the criminal Clerical Culture within the Church! Then, it will turn into Disorganized Crime!

    ReplyDelete
  4. SarahTX2: Unfortunately, intelligence tests aren't given to future parents, before they have sex!

    ReplyDelete

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