The Diocese of Jefferson City

A Case Study of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Monday, March 8, 2010

Childproof 1: The Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo. — A Case Study of Criminal Negligence and Sexual Abuse

Editorial Update:  31 August 2012
Coat of Arms of
Bishop John R. Gaydos
Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo.
When a person uses tricks, power,
threats, or violence to have sexual
contact with another person, it is
called rape.  But when the victimized
is a child, people often use a less
offensive phrase:  child molestation
or sexual abuse.  When a child is

molested by a relative, the crime is
further minimized by the term incest.
Sexual abuse is in fact a sexual act. 
Yet it is much more than merely a
sexual act.  Sexual abuse is an
expression of power, compulsiveness,
a desire for control, or an act of

vengeance, which often is masked
as an act of love.
The median age of a victim of childhood sexual molestation is nine years old, according to a recent report by the Bureau of Justice.  A conservative estimate is that:
n   One in six boys is a victim of sexual assault
before the age of 16;
n   One in seven victims of sexual assault is a child
under the age of six;
n   Nearly 50 percent of all victims of rape, sodomy
and sexual assault are children under the age
of 12; and
n   Nearly 70 percent of all reported sexual assaults
(including assaults on adults) are children ages
17 or younger.
Additionally, other child reporting agencies (Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1999 National Report; National Clearing House on Child Abuse and Neglect; and the Bureau of Justice) statistical information indicates that:
n   90 percent of child sexual abuse cases, the child
knows and trusts the person who commits the abuse;
n   32 percent of these crimes involved sexual assault
with a victim aged 12 or younger;
n   Only 1 in 18 instances of violent crime where the
victim is under the age of 12 is ever reported to
the police; and
n   Nearly 1,100 deaths related to child abuse occur
each year; 38 percent of those children die before
their first birthday.
A child falls prey to predators when no advocate is available to offer protection or shelter. Many of these crimes are difficult to prosecute, because children rarely have the ability to prove wrongdoing. A child often is unable to ask for help due to age; limited vocabulary hampers testimony. Many child victims are bound to their predators by economic status and social circumstance. As a result, these matters may be best characterized as the Oliver Twist Syndrome: a reference to the Charles Dickens character trapped in a cycle of crime and violence because he cannot escape his captor, Fagin.
Time and again, this brand of violence tends to unfold in a drainage ditch, an abandoned warehouse, a woodland setting, a blind alley, the trunk of a car.  John Walsh reveals this hard-care reality in his television crusade as loved one rely on the coroner and the city morgue to determine the cause of death of their beloved child.
Some folks, though, find ways to marginalize crimes against children.  “It is part of human history,” according to the naysayer.  “The parents are at fault,” say others; while the predator relies on Nabokov’s Lolita:  “She’s a flirt.”
Rev. Benedict Groeschel
EWTN All-Star
The bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, for example, would like us to believe that these statistics do not apply to their brand of child predator.  Ten years into the current phase of the pedophile priest scandal, Timothy M. Cardinal Dolan of New York continues to trot out trolls to blame the victim: this time in the form of the Rev. Benedict Groeschel, a mega-star in the Eternal
Word Television Network (EWTN)
constellation of so-called spiritual
.  Groeschel also stated
pedophile priests should not be jailed
because their “intention was not
[to commit] a crime.”
The 79-year-old Groeschel told the National Catholic Reporter
(an EWTN subsidiary):

“Suppose you have a man having a nervous
breakdown, and a youngster comes after
him.  A lot of the cases, the youngster —
14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.”
In addition, Groeschel advised that the pedophile priest is the victim of a “kid looking for a father and didn’t have his own.” He said that these children do not want “to get into heavy-duty sex,” but prefer an “almost romantic” sexual encounter “embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping [with the predator] but not having intercourse or anything like that.”

Dolan and The Archdiocese of New York have been quick to exonerate Groeschel, suggesting that senility and a 2004 automobile accident in Orlando, Fla., are responsible for his miscalculation in judgment.  The National Catholic Reporter scrubbed its website, removing the offending language. 

Groeschel, in turn, was forced to offer a weak apology even though he has made a career out of protecting pedophile priests.   

Dr. Jeff Gardere
According to the New York Times, Groeschel has counseled priests for
nearly 40 years at the Trinity Retreat
House in the New York suburb of
Larchmont.  Groeschel created the
pedophile haven at the direction of
the archbishop at the time, Terence J. 
Cardinal Cooke.  The pedophile priest
unit was closed in 2006, according to
the Archdiocese of New York.

Those victimized by predatory priests
have found champions willing to defend
the indefensible.  We only have to the
look the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and Anderson Cooper, who reports frequently on issues of bullying, child sexual abuse, and child wellness.  We also have medical professionals who understand the issue and readily condemned those who quibble, carp, and generate disinformation.

Dr. Jeff Gardere, the well-known clinical psychologist, offered his own assessment of Father Groeschel to CNN:  

“I don’t care whether you’re senile or whether
you may have had a hard day.  The fact is, for
you to say something like that tells me that
there are much, much deeper issues going on
with you as an individual to try to justify
something that is so horrific, that has destroyed
the lives of so many children.”

Dr. Gardere did not flinch, either, is his evaluation of a professional therapist supports the American bishops’ argument that a child is the culprit and not the pedophile priest.

“This is the typical mind of a pedophile where
they intellectualize the relationship and convince
themselves that the child wants [a sexual encounter].”

John W. Money, M.D.
The American bishops also are supported by fringe psychiatric research at Johns Hopkins University and Alfred Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, they’ve concocted spurious medical terminology to minimize fault.  In an effort to cast blame on the gay community, they have enlisted researchers like John W. Money, who conducted sex-change operations on children as a means to study gender identity issues; Frederick S. Berlin, who champions the codification of the
non-medical term of ephebophilia to minimize the damage inflicted on children
by predatory priests;
Paul R. McHugh, who also blames victims of childhood sexual abuse, citing his so-called theory of False Memory Syndrome (he also likes to compare sexual molestation to the false testimony used to convict witches at Salem, Mass.); and attorney Judith Reisman, a member of law faculty at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, to gild their criminal conduct with a veneer of academic legitimacy:  our child predators of ephebophiles (not pedophiles).  In 1993, when the pedophile priest scandal erupted again, the American bishops, formed the InterFaith Sexual Trauma Institute at St. John’s Abbey and University to gloss the nature of these crimes against children.
Frederick S. Berlin, M.D.
The disgrace of the Roman Catholic Church again has reminded us throughout the last decade that the child predator profile encompasses all classes and all professions, something we forgot in the wake of the previous disclosures of sexual violence involving ordained clergyman.  We have learned again that predatory priests are like every other pedophile:  an arrogant narcissist driven by the need to dominate his victim psychologically in conjunction with sexual assault.  The power element alone negates the gender of the child,
who becomes the mere target for
uncontrolled lust and rage.
Bishop John R. Gaydos of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., represents this mindset.  He is a leader among the new generation of bishops who coddle child predators in their employ.  Although Bishop Gaydos is principal architect of the USCCB. Charter for the Protection of Children and Young, he continues the disinformation tactics put in place by his predecessor, the Most Rev. Michael F. McAuliffe (1920-2006).  Both Gaydos and McAuliffe protected their friend and colleague, the notorious predator, Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell.  They engaged in active cover-up to conceal the crimes he committed against students at St. Thomas Aquinas Preparatory Seminary (STAS) during his 20-plus year tenure as a faculty member and rector of the high school seminary in Hannibal, Mo.
Judith Reisman, J.D.
Bishop O’Connell admitted publicly in 2002 that he is a pedophile, but has never offered an apology to the scores of students he molested.  Despite his acknowledgements, Gaydos and McAuliffe remained tight-lipped and failed to support their buddy’s victims.
The Diocese of Jefferson City has dismissed more than 25 percent of its priests in the last 18 years due to child molestation charges.  And, yet, no investigation into the O’Connell breach of trust at STAS has ever been conducted. 
No apology extended to the students,
parents, and loved ones harmed by
these crimes.
The 47th anniversary of O’Connell’s ordination to the priesthood
(30 March 1963) for the Diocese of Jefferson City coincides with resignation as the bishop of Palm Beach on 8 March 2002.  The irony is fortunate:  one that now offers an opportunity the re-examine certain events that span the 60-year-history of this particular branch of the Catholic Church in the Middle West.
Paul R. McHugh, M.D.
I’ve chosen the World Wide Web and digital technology of this reporting venue, because the documentation of abuse and the on-going cover-up by Gaydos and the Diocese of Jefferson spans multiple generations of players, including childhood friends, teachers, mentor, and priests.  Chums from my high school seminary days at St. Thomas who now hold positions of authority at the chancery in Jefferson City and elsewhere in the Church have become active participants, a saddening sea-change in this story of secrecy and corruption.
Originally, I relied on traditional letter writing until the correspondence tallied 50-plus pages of content.  I came to realize that the document would be shelved by recipient of this information and never reach its intended audience.
Consequently, this publishing forum will introduce a tale of conspiracy and deceit with the significant highlights that have shaped the lives of so many.
For the next 12 months or so, the complexity and severity of these matters will be illustrated in regularly timed postings until the full length of the paper correspondence to Bishop Gaydos is unveiled.  It is my hope that the content will be viewed beyond the level of gossip-mongering and spur demand for the attention and action they deserve.  Perhaps this venue also will serve as catalyst for change since those responsible remain reticent.  Maybe someone will even muster the courage to do what is right and just.

Further reading:
EWTN Psychologist Claims Children Seduce Pedophile Priests
Priest Blames Victims of Childhood Sexual Molestation
Rev. Benedict Groeschel Defends Pedophile Priests
Groeschel Apologizes For Controversial Sex Abuse Remarks
National Catholic Reporter Removes Groeschel Interview

Next Time:  Bishop John R. Gaydos and the Legacy He Represents

1 comment:

  1. Michael I am reading through all your blog entries and find them riveting. I also went thru the seminary and parish experiences surrounded by priests and other clergy. I would like to correspond further but would prefer one-on-one versus in a blog venue. I still am wary of them and their tendencies. And I am sure you know by now that they can read this if they want... I am looking for your email on address on your sites but cannot seem to find it. If you would feel comfortable doing so, my email is:
    If not, thank you for posting all of this and for the work you are doing for survivors.