|Boy Sex Victim:
"Gilpin Abused Me"
A man tells NewsManatee in this exclusive two-part series of his alleged
sexual abuse by former Manatee County Ass't. Principal Joseph Gilpin
BRADENTON, Florida [NMT] -- Joseph Gilpin was the Assistant Principal of Manatee County's Haile Middle School and a long-term school district employee. He resigned last year amid allegations of sexual abuse by the man whose story you are about to read and of students here in Manatee County. A complaint was filed with the Sheriff's Office at one point. The school district already knew of Gilpin's alleged past.
"In February 2002, then Superintendent Dan Nolan and school district attorney Rob Shapiro were informed of a civil suit filed in Massachusetts alleging the former Haile assistant principal molested a boy while he was a Catholic seminarian in the late 1960s," two staff writers for Bradenton's Herald Today wrote earlier this year. The paper was then called The Bradenton Herald.
But the Manatee County students who were allegedly molested and the man who filed the Massachusetts civil suit aren't the only ones to complain about Gilpin.
Around the year 1967-68, when Gilpin was still a seminarian, he was transferred from Boston to St. Mary's Parochial School in Biddeford, Maine. According to one person, now a man of 50 years, but then only 12, Gilpin was teaching students of the 5th grade at the school when he allegedly became "friendly" with the young boy whose younger brother was in Gilpin's 5th grade class.
Harvey René Paul was young and pretty. And, he was an altar boy. He was a perfect victim for sexual abuse by a member of the clergy so inclined. This is Harvey René Paul's story, in his own words, as told exclusively to NewsManatee. Unwilling to come forward before, he now tells all. Nothing has been edited out. Nothing has been added. It is long enough to tell in two parts. This is Part One. It is not salacious, but it is open and frank -- nothing was held back.
"My name is Harvey René Paul. This is my story. I am personally unafraid to speak the truth, and am unwilling to let it be kept a secret any more. I am no longer ashamed that as a twelve and thirteen year old child that I allowed the abuse by an adult to occur.
I was born in Biddeford, Maine. I was the third child in a family of ten children. I like to joke that I got to eat on Tuesdays, when it was my turn to do so. I am named after my father, but in order to keep confusion down, went by my middle name, René. This is the name that Joseph Gilpin knew me by.
Gilpin was transferred to St. Mary's Parochial School from Boston. He taught my younger brother's 5th grade class. From the start, he was very popular with all the students. Compared to Fr. Enright and Fr. Goan, he was a breath of fresh air. Being much younger than them, it was easier to relate to him. His personality was very outgoing, and he conducted himself in a manner that contrasted sharply with the staid elder gentlemen. He was active in activities with the children, even running the basketball court with us during practice. We thought at this time that he was a priest, as he wore the collar and black that priests normally wore, and it was amazing to us that a priest could or would behave as he did. It was only later that we learned he wasn't a full-fledged priest, but a Seminarian, studying to become a priest. This was considered pretty cool also, as we had never known anybody who hadn't always been a priest. Gilpin was also very well liked by the mothers of the children, for all the reasons stated above, and also for his active attention to their children. In the beginning, nobody had any inkling of what was to occur, and I am guessing that most would not have believed it had they heard it from anyone. Much as it is today with the Rev. Nicholson and other men, he kept the activities with children well hidden under the guise of being a dedicated and loving educator. The "defilement" came behind closed doors, out of the view of parents, coworkers and authority figures.
After school, ball practice, etc., he started to offer us rides home. This was a natural and caring thing to do, not unexpected of the Seminarian who lived a mile further down the rode from us in Hills Beach. We would laugh and talk about most anything, and we basked in the special relationship we had with him. My brothers and I were altar boys at both St. Francis College (Franciscans), and St. Mary's. I had quite seriously thought of becoming a priest myself in order to give comfort to those in need, and to live a virtuous life in the eyes of the Lord. These rides home allowed me to maintain a relationship with someone who was becoming a priest, and I looked up to and respected this future priest to be. Imagine how important I felt when he asked me if I would like to try to steer his car. I don't know of any 12-year-old boy who would turn down such an exciting prospect, and I did not protest.
Mr. Gilpin's car at the time was an odd squat station wagon. I want to call it a Studebaker / American motors. It was also a weird gray/brown color. Not true gray really, but not brown either. I've never seen one like it, then or since. I drove with one hand reaching over from the passenger side in the beginning, and he suggested that I move over closer in order to be able to do it better. Once I was closer, his arm naturally fell across my shoulders. Mr. Gilpin then began to rub my passenger side shoulder in an affectionate way. This was not a blatant action by any means, and to be honest, I enjoyed it. He was simply telling me that I was his friend, and who was I as a 12-year-old to read anything more into it? This behavior happened with other people in the car, no one any wiser for it. I am guessing that it was perceived by all to be 'new priest' behavior, and I am sure we all felt special that he paid attention to us. As time progressed, he pulled me closer and closer, his hand roving lower on my body. Still, he hadn't touched me in places I knew were off limits, and could be perceived as innocent. This was not to last. After a short period of time, I had both hands on the wheel and he had both of his hands on me. The areas he was touching were no longer so innocent, but I had made a decision to endure it for the thrill of actually DRIVING A CAR! He also started kissing me on the cheek at this time, and then he would tap his cheek with his index finger and ask 'Who loves you?'-- at which point I kissed him on his cheek."
TOMORROW: In Part 2 of his
story, Harvey René Paul tells what happened to him in the next
phase of Gilpin's alleged sexual indoctrination. He tells us graphically
what allegedly occurred in Gilpin's bedroom and how it affected him for
the rest of his life.
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