The Diocese of Jefferson City

A Case Study of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Monday, November 8, 2010

Childproof 10: Msgr. Higley's Shame, Part 2




Page 10

Dear Bishop Gaydos:

Msgr. Gregory L. Higley
The retelling of the traumatic experiences of Msgr. Bosso and Msgr. Higley is imperative in light of the criminal cover-up that you, Bishop Gaydos, and Bishop McAuliffe, have perpetrated.

Bosso, Higley, and Christensen, as a consequence, have become unwilling, hostile witnesses to a culture of clergy sexual abuse that mocks victims and survivors alike.

Higley’s crisis at the Josephinum is more than an imbroglio involving classmates who now are priests with prominent positions of trust. In addition, these priests are connected to O’Connell in some fashion or
they are indebted to O’Connell for his patronage.


Higley told the Rev. Manus Daly about his situation at the Josephinum, according to a letter dated 21 June 1974:


“I went up to the Lake to see Daly a while back. . . . We had a real good talk, concerning a lot of subjects, mostly the Josephinum. Of course I made sure he wouldn’t talk to O’Connell. We’ll have to get together sometime there if you want.”

Twin Attacks:  Easter and Sartorius
Multiple layers of abuse sexual, physical, and psychological pervade the correspondence of Msgr. Bosso, Msgr. Higley, and Father Christensen.  Christensen, in fact, revisited the Sartorius scandal in a follow-up letter dated Saturday, 17 August 1974,  in which he discusses again the fact that Sartorius assaulted Higley in the same shower room of the Josephinum gymnasium where he attacked McNally:

“Greg is still upset about Easter. It is my opinion that more happened than G has told. After the Sartorius debacle G. should have easily handled this last incident. So more must have happened, or else he found out more about this problem than he wanted to. I wonder if he’s covering
for Nacho?




In his letter dated Saturday, 17 August 1974, Christensen notes that
Msgr. Higley is still distraught about the Easter sexual assault.  He adds that
Msgr. Bosso intends to inform the dean of men for the School of Theology
and one his professors, Msgr. “Dad” Schubert.

And Christensen adds an exclamation point to his appraisal of the Easter incident:

“Bosso says he’s telling [the Rev.] Pacheco, dean of men in theology, and he’s also telling [the Rev.] Schubert [whom the students called “Dad”] more, I guess. And Schubert wants to go to the rector. I immediately dispatched Stephen an advisement warning him that the righteous are usually screwed by the administration and faculty at PCJ, and not the sinner. Stephen is so rash.”

Msgr. Higley:  Acknowledging Trauma

Msgr. Higley acknowledge his trauma as described by Father Christensen in a letter dated 21 June 1974:

“On Thursday, May 16, the day of the graduation banquet, I started a new bottle of Lord Calvert at 10:30 a.m. in Michael’s room,” he writes to me. “[Greg] Fuller . . . joined me later. I was half-looped when I went over to [the refectory] for lunch. [Lewis] asked me to wash lunch dishes and I said I’d be over after I had one more drink. But Gregory [Fuller] and I went back to Michael’s room and drank till 1:30 p.m. when I ended up on my own bed passed out.”



Msgr. Higley describes how he copes with the trauma he experienced in his
letter dated 21 June 1974:  “Did Bozo [Bosso] tell you what happened over
Easter?  Thats one reason why I bought so much booze.  Every time I got
drunk, I felt better.”

 

Higley then describes a scene in which his twin brother, Tim, and Christensen and Bosso attempt to revive him:

“The next thing I know . . . Timothy [Higley], Michael, and Bozo were waking me up for Mass before the banquet. It was a scream Wegos. I was so drunk that Christensen had to throw cold water on me twice: then he dragged me out of bed. I never made it to Mass. I went up and had some more beer with [Nelson] instead. I could barely eat at the banquet.”


Father Christensen: Coping with Pain
Christensen also noted 24 May 1974 that he held out hope for Higley
and Bosso:

"Bosso will recover by July, I predict. G. Higley has, but is still stuck on the booze and an 11-year-old girl he met on retreat. He’ll eit
her lose his vocation, or get his head screwed back on by next Thanksgiving.”


But Msgr. Higley offers his own self-analysis of his pain and suffering in a letter dated 28 August 1974:

“One night I went out to the Wine Cellar to drink whisky sours and Tom Collins . . . . Then I got a bottle of Lord Calvert and finished it off with a 12-pack of Busch with [Sasha] . . . It sounds like the school year got off to a bad start this year for me; but I let it happen and I hope I’ll straighten up pretty soon.”


Krupp:  Professed Ignorance
Christensen discloses his precise analysis of the situation in a letter dated 24 May 1974, noting that the Rev. Albert A. Krupp and Father Sesto have chosen inaction regarding the attacks on Higley and Bosso:

“Neither Krupp nor Sesto has done anything about the theologians, and I don’t expect anything to happen. . . . I just don’t know what will happen. I think PCJ has a very, very serious Homo S. problem and that the Homo S. problem causes directly the drinking problem.  Both booze and Homo S. have been rampant for two years now.”


In his letter dated 24 May 1974, Christensen notes that Msgr. Higley and
Msgr. Bosso continue to suffer from their Easter trauma and that the
Josephinum faculty and administration failed to take action or support
the victims.
 
Msgr. Higley:  Emotional Distress
The timeline of this phase of the Josephinum sex scandals is interesting
in that 16 months after I reported the sexual assault of a student to Father Krupp, nothing had been accomplished and the serial molestation of students continued, as Christensen notes in his 23 April 1974 letter:


“NOW GET THIS!!!! (I found this out before Easter from T. Higley). Last year [Nate, STAS Class of 1971, from Pilot Grove] saw from his bathroom mirror [Deacon Maas] in bed with [Lewis]! [PCJ two students shared bathrooms that adjoined their separate rooms; they called each other “Potty Pals “] He left. [Maas] got [Deacon Shields] to talk to [Nate] and tell [Nate] how [Maas] was so affectionate and trying to help [Lewis], etc.! Shit!  What kind of place is this?

“GH [Greg Higley] says he finds it difficult to understand how Nacho [Medina] and I react to all this so coolly, and with praying, and emotional repression. But I just can’t be really too down on these people, although after awhile I do think they should stop it for good, or else depart from the seminary.”

Father Christensen:  Another Plea for Secrecy
And, then, Christensen asked me again to remain silent about Higley’s predicament in a letter dated 11 June 1974:

“I’d rather you didn’t rather you didn’t tell Bosso that I told you about the Easter incident, because the mess includes Greg Higley, and he doesn’t care for it to be known, so get all your ‘official’ info from dear Stephen, and keep my name and mouth (admittedly big) out of it, if you can, for I don’t care to have G. Higley mad at me.”



Christensen Letter:  11 June 1974

The Josephinum:  An Open Secret
The context of the Bosso-Higley-Christensen matters is further detailed in a letter drafted to Christensen and has become a stark diary entry dated
8 July 1974:

“My weekend at the [Lake of the Ozarks at Fr. Daly’s cabin] was an enlightening affair. I kept company with two seniors from St. Thomas: Don . . . [Class of 1974] and Mark . . . [Class of 1974]. I found out that [Tim Higley] and [Greg Higley] were invited to join us, but they refused, Manus said. I told him I knew why, because of your informative letter, and he was relieved. Fr. Daly told Greg it was his own fault that the Easter incident occurred. It was no à la Krupp [affair as with me], but [he said] that Greg should’ve spent Easter with his family like the other students and the temptations would not arise.
 

Wegs Letter:  8 July 1974

“But that is not the problem. Sunday morning at breakfast (Daly was out at Mass) Don asked me what I knew about the ‘fag problem’ at the Josephinum! . . . . I asked Don who he had been talking to. He said he heard from [DAT, Class of 1972] and a kid from Quincy, Ill., talking about it at a party that the Class of ’72 had at [Daly’s] cabin. Also [MJV, Class of 1973] mentioned some things. Don said he wanted to know the facts before he went there next year!”


The Josephinum:  A Haven for Predators
Rev. Albert A. Krupp
coddled predators at
the Pontifical College
Josephinum.
“Then he asked who got [Greg Higley]. I was shocked and numb. . . . The whole senior Class
of ’73 and upcoming ’74 know the score.  Daly
knows and O’C . . .  Daly said he knew about
[REX] three years ago!  He propositioned [Code
for sexual assault: FAE, Class of ’70].  Daly also
said Krupp and Fick knew about [REX] before I
came there or you! Daly also said Krupp was
an as[s] for his Christian charity bit toward
[REX] after me and
then you.  As you know by
now Ive Daly nearly all that has happened.

“The last thing that Daly said to me about the subject is that he hoped the new rector [Msgr. Frank M. Mouch, PCJ Class of 1958] would do something before too many more seminarians from our diocese advanced to PCJ. Now despite everything . . . I am sorry Greg is angry with you. But I didn’t tell him you told me, unless Bosso did. I will write him [a letter about this] after I finish this letter, and I will see him July 19, 20, or 21 at the Lake [at Daly’s cabin]. The Class of ’72 is having a party and I was invited with some guys from my class.”

Msgr. Higley: Trapped by Spiritual Autism
The victimization of Msgr. Higley is a significant element of the sexual abuse culture that permeates the Diocese of Jefferson City. The extent of the situation cannot be unraveled or investigated when the chief players in this drama cannot address their own crises. Some may characterize this factor as a cancer on the soul of the church, but for victims like Higley the charitable diagnosis may be simply a form of spiritual autism.

The Higley-Bosso-Christensen correspondence indicates that O’Connell, McAuliffe, Krupp, Fick and others in authority at the Chancery and the Josephinum administration worked in harmony to keep these matters hidden. Josephinum rectors Msgr. Mouch and Msgr. Campbell were well-aware of these matter, but they acceded to McAuliffe and O’Connell because the Diocese of Jefferson City was a source of revenue and enrollment at a time when both were scarce commodities. 

Father Krupp and Co. engineered a graceful exit from the Josephinum for REX to a position as director of the North Columbus YMCA.  REX’s Josephinum career as a sexual predator spanned at least five years. He maintained an on-campus presence as a frequent visitor, luring students to his home where he continued to groom students with alcohol, drugs, and pornography.

In particular, O’Connell, Krupp, and Fick protected marauding faculty at the expense of their victims. REX, the serial predator, had additional support from the Josephinum treasurer’s office. CFO Msgr. Gilbert Schmenke was recognized by the Columbus business elite as a financial and real estate powerhouse, controlling land holdings, leasing resources and commercial property ventures (e.g. the Christopher Inn). Schmenke supported REX and provided cover for his protégé.

Father Krupp:  A Company Man
Christensen notes in a letter dated 28 August 1973, eight months after I reported the student rape to Krupp:

“[REX] was out the first day. He is North Columbus Family YMC director.”

As for the student I supported, Krupp recommended that he continue his education at another academic institution. Krupp, who for 12 years (1968-1980) served as spiritual director for the Josephinum undergraduates, told the student that ordination was no longer possible because he now was considered “damaged goods” by the Church. The student realized some years later that the Josephinum forgave his college tuition: payment rendered for injustice perhaps.


The Josephinum administration continued to coddle sexual predators as
Christensen documents in letter dated 28 August 1973.  REX
 who was
terminated from both of his positions as a faculty member and an
administrator
 was allowed access to the campus despite the knowledge
that he had raped one student and molested others.
 

Bosso offers a note of support in a letter dated Thursday, 24 May 1973:

“I know that this year did not end very for [you] at all . . . You should have never acted (as you put it) as a scapegoat. I disagreed with that from the beginning.”

Christensen then follows up with advice about Father Krupp in letter dated Saturday, 7 July 1973:

“Be careful of Al Baby . . . . He is a clinical psychologist first, and a serpent second, and not a priest at all . . . . His blunders, failings, crimes, mistakes, and very personality are a moral indictment against each word he utters. He is a phony priest, a phony psychologist, and his concerns are phony too!”

Msgr. Leonard J. Fick:  Blackmailer
In retrospect, the prelude of the abuse crisis that enveloped Higley-Bosso-Christensen and others in 1974 at the Josephinum can be traced to a few lines in a letter from Christensen dated 27 November 1973.  In these pages he describes Msgr. Fick’s attempt to maintain the nightmarish equilibrium of institution:

“Msgr. Fick was roaming the halls last night and tried to get into my TV room, but the doorknob just went around and around and around!” he writes. “Usually I say something nasty to guys using that door, but instead I ran out to who it was, and caught on the steps down to 1-S. He denied he’d been at my door.”

Unable to foresee the painful Easter of 1974 and debacle of 1975, Fick attempts to blackmail Christensen with a lie: a threat to tell Christensen’s bishop – Glennon P. Flavin – that he found cocaine in the seminarians. 
But as more calamitous events erupt at the Josephinum, Fick will be forced retreat to damage control knowing that a silence imposed will some day end.



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Next Time:  The story of Msgr. Higley’s college career at the Josephinum continues.  

 
 





1 comment:

  1. As a student there now, I am sad and disgusted by hearing these stories. I will admit, however, that things have improved. A seminary will always be a seminary, but the days of rape and cover up have luckily gone away. I will never respect the PCJ's history and I appreciate your bringing this forward.

    ReplyDelete