|Having the Courage to Take the Lead on a Lawsuit against Church
December 4, 2009
CONNECTICUT--George Rosado pulled the packed school bus he was driving to a halt in front of a house in Trumbull. It was a well-cared-for place. And he knew who lived there.
He stared at it. After a while, the kids on the bus noticed that they were idling longer than usual. " 'Are we picking somebody up?' they wanted to know," Rosado recalls of that day. "That shook me out of the stuff running through my head, and I started the bus back up and finished the route."
That was the closest former altar boy Rosado, now 46, has come to confronting the former Catholic priest, Raymond Pcolka, a cleric who Rosado says stole his childhood innocence, sexually abusing him from the time he was 8 until he was 11.
"He's a vile, sick snake, the things he did to us kids," Rosado says, biting off each word. "It started out with a hand on my shoulder. Then he went south."
Rosado is the lead plaintiff in "George L. Rosado, Jr., et al v. Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp., et al." It's his name that appears on the caption of the lawsuit of a score of victims of sexual abuse committed by priests. It's his name that forever will be linked to child-preying priests. Why is his name first? And what score is the former school bus driver, machinist, former minor league ballplayer and home remodeler out to settle?
"I put my name on the lawsuit because I am a man of my word, and because the others," kids all grown up, "none of them were able to. It's reliving lots of pain," he says.
"When all of this was going on, I was a kid. It was the '70s. Who's gonna believe a kid? Nobody. You can't convince me otherwise. Plus, I was scared of him. I'd seen his temper."
Rosado says he lived in fear of Pcolka, a cleric who he says was adept at smooth-talking single, working moms like Rosado's, gaining the trust of parents to take their children away. Sometimes for a week at a time the priest would bring a few of them to his vacation home in New Hampshire.
"Putting my name on that lawsuit, it felt like I was taking back control of my life," Rosado says. "I grew up in a neighborhood where everybody looked up to the church and the priests. We respected them. We trusted them."
Rosado lost his virginity to a girl at the ripe old age of 10. "I became sexually involved early. I was quite advanced when I should have still been a kid," he says, adding that by the time he was 11 Pcolka had lost interest in using him for his sexual pleasure. Rosado had his first child when he was all of 16. Today, he has seven children, including two he's adopted, who range in age from 30 to 9. He's never married. And while he still believes in God, he won't set foot in a Catholic church.
In a deposition that stretched for hours at the law office of Tremont & Sheldon in Bridgeport, Pcolka exercised his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment at least 100 times. He asserted this right even though none of the questions involved a criminal charge. He refused to say where he lived. He declined to say whether he had ever had heterosexual sex, homosexual sex or engaged in any other sexual activity before he became a priest. Plowing through Pcolka's deposition, as he declines to disclose whether he ever took Rosado or other kids to his New Hampshire digs or talk about his psychiatric treatment history, what comes through to me is the voice of someone arrogant who doesn't just feel he is above the law, but knows it.
Rosado met the reverend at St. John Nepomucene, a Slovakian Catholic Church on the East Side of Bridgeport, the same parish Pcolka belonged to growing up. St. John Nepomucene was the second of seven parishes Pcolka was assigned to. In the late 1960s to at least the mid 1990s, Pcolka drove cars that bore a vanity plate: CIC. "Codex Iuris Canonicis." It stands for Code of Canon Law. If sex outside of marriage is a Catholic sin, and if priests take a vow, or -- as Pcolka explains in his deposition -- a "promise" of celibacy, which he claims is less binding, then what about sex with children? Wouldn't that be a violation of Canon law? That's something to think about. But so is Pcolka's definition of "celibacy," which attorney T. Paul Tremont manages to extract during his deposition. To this priest, celibacy merely means "to remain single and unmarried." Pity that the written word can be so flat. A deposition can't convey the raised-eyebrow looks such a statement might provoke.
"So, let me ask you, do you believe," Tremont responds, as someone who "has studied the Canon Law in addition to being a priest of the diocese, that you would not break your oath of celibacy if you had sexual relations with a woman but did not marry her?"
Pcolka's answer: "Yes."
"And if you had relations with a minor under the age of 18 at the present time," Tremont inquires, "but remained unmarried, that you would not break your oath of celibacy?" Pcolka has an answer to that, too. Says the man of the cloth: "Under the definition we are using, that would be correct."
MariAn Gail Brown can be reached at 203-330-6288 orE-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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