Thursday, February 18, 2010

A News Report from WBGN TV made this report yesterday:

Another alleged victim of sex abuse comes forward against a retired priest from Susquehanna County.

Action News Reporter (WBNG) Leigh Dana spoke to him exclusively Tuesday night and has more on why he's seeking closure nearly 20 years later.
This victim now lives on the west coast and asked that we keep his identity hidden.
He speaks out in hopes more people will do the same against Father Ralph Elwood Johnson.
"I've repressed the feelings for so many years and I need to come out and say this stuff is not right and I can't live with the guilt in my conscious anymore," he said.
The now 29 year old victim unlocks his past from when he says he was forced to have sexual relations with Father Ralph Elwood Johnson here at the priest's Gibson home.
Johnson was arrested 2 weeks ago for allegedly having sex with a teenage boy nearly 20 years ago.
The victim says he was 11 when it all started in 1992.
"What Ralph Johnson is doing and has done is very wrong and this needs to be addressed," he said.
And after trying to get help from the Central New York Dioceses last month, he still feels abused.
"They were trying to discourage me from pursuing this because they don't want the negative fallout that comes with it." (Bold, mine)
Now, he's seeking justice and wants others who may have been molested by Johnson to step forward.
"If there are any victims out there that have been abused by Ralph Johnson and have not come forward and felt they might get discouraged, please go to your local law enforcement agencies. Don't be discouraged by doing so."
In 2006, 2 other alleged victims came forward claiming Johnson sexually abused them.

This issue will not stop coming to the fore. So much for the “Passionate presence of Christ.”! When our diocesan officials do not stand for truth, Christ’s passionate presence cannot be seen. The stance of avoidance and denial that has characterized the responsibility of the Diocese of CNY as this whole matter began to be exposed almost 7 years ago is shaming. As we begin Lent, we of the Episcopal Diocese of Central NY should be asking for forgiveness for failing to call our Diocesan staff to account for this hiding behind whatever laws seem to be convenient. The sin of Ralph Johnson is bad enough.

The Church needs to make amends. We cannot hide behind “our insurance doesn’t cover that.” Or “it wasn’t on my watch.” If we are to be the ‘Compassionate presence of Christ,’ we need to step up to the plate and pay our dues. We need to be paying for the therapy bills of those who were abused. We need to be backing the victims in their faith and struggle. But the victims often get labeled as “alcoholics, or itinerants, or unstable” simply because a priest in their youth scrambled their development. The sin of ignoring them and trying to hide it is much worse abuse than what Johnson may have done.

There will be more accusations made. It is the nature of such situations that there were many who were abused. There will be suits made against the diocese because the Diocesan personnel turned these victims away or distrusted their accusations. If the bishop had faced into this case 7 years ago we would not be getting a black eye in the press today. But a black eye is nothing in comparison to the misery that this sin of one man has left with the broken lives of the victims.

As I have said before, this problem will never get better for the parish, the people of the parish, the victims, the clergy of the diocese, the whole of the diocese until the whole matter is brought out in the open and cleansed. We cannot move on until it happens. At this point I would want to see someone from outside the diocese to be commissioned by the Standing Committee to look at this issue.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

God, this is so awful, so painful. I thank God for your prophetic voice in this, Lauren. Someone has to speak out. Someone has to be "the voice of one, crying in the wilderness."

Thank you for this incredible, costly ministry.

Anonymous said...

Please contact Bishop Clayton Matthews whose job it is to investigate these things.

The victim has also contacted David Virtue, who I know many don't like, but please overlook that as this is a very important justice issue and someone needs to take a stand for these victims. His letter is repeated in this article and makes heartbreaking reading.

Others have tried to bring this to the attention of authorities but failed to even receive the courtesy of a reply. Perhaps if someone from inside the church takes this up, the voices of these victims will start to be heard.

Please don't ignore this issue as many have done before. Please help. It needs someone from inside the church who has the bravery to take a stand. By publishing this article you have started to do that. But please, we need someone from inside the church to help change policies so the next victim is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve by those in authority. There needs to be an independent lay led body that takes up these cases and ensures justice for the victims.

Anonymous said...

More victims are coming forwards:

And note the nasty comment someone has added to the bottom of the story "Sounds like someone is coming forward now looking to sue for money after all these years.. "

Once again the victims are victimized again when the come forwards. When you report abuse, everyone just thinks you want money. There needs to be a way for victims to come forwards without facing this double horror. "You deserved it" "You led him on" "You just want money" "Why are you only reporting this now?" "We don't believe you -'x' is a godly man - prove it"...the hurt just goes on and on....

Anonymous said...

Another example of the broken process and why it needs fixing:

"I have tried talking to the bishops in our diocese three different times. The last bishop that I talked to had the cruel way of telling me that I wanted it and I knew it. I didn't want that at all. I was a virgin then and a virgin now. I want to wait until marriage for sexual anything.

I feel like I am going to split in two if I can't talk at some point soon. My soul hurts so much more than I can say. I refuse to lose my voice the way this nasty, evil, beastly bishop wants. I actually think the bishop has hurt me as much as the priest did."

Anonymous said...

An update to this story here:,0,1347900.story

Of note:

"In court papers he admitted to some of the sexual claims made against him."