A Victim Speaks - Part 2
We Are Central
May 17, 2016
New allegations of priest abuse in the Altoona/ Johnstown Catholic diocese surfaced Monday when a letter sent to Bishop Mark Bartchak was released to the media. In it "Whistleblower" George Foster calls for 5 priests and 1 sister to be removed from their posts and investigated.
For one victim - we call him "John" - it's the action that he wants to see now.
"How many victims are out there, afraid to talk, because they know there ain't going to be any help," explains "John".
"John" was repeatedly raped when he was a teen by a priest who he says bribed him with alcohol, money, cars and made him dress as a women. He's still battling the trauma today.
"I feel so much better talking about it. I kept the shit inside me so damn long, when I finally exploded, I ended up in 3G," explains "John".
That was the mental ward of the UPMC Altoona.
"Maybe that was God's blessing for me, you know making me snap," adds "John.
Today, John is sober and in treatment for PTSD.
As "John" tells it, "Life's getting better for me. I still believe in church. I do get upset with the diocese - not doing enough for the victims."
"John's" abuser - Fr. Raymond Waldruff died in 1985.
"I know now he's not hurting anybody else. Hopefully the church is really going to do something and start doing background checks on these people."
"John" and others are fighting to remove the time limits on when child abuse victims can press charges.
"Ironically when I do go to church Carolyn, I kneel there and I pray that this abuse will stop in the church and I pray for help for the priests," adds "John".
Whistleblower George Foster wants more transparency and justice from the Bishop.
"The people have told me - that people told me were child molesters - he hasn't even removed - to my knowledge, he's not even investigating them," says Foster.
He like "John", are calling on the diocese to take action now.
"Publish the names of the priests that are now being questioned - and there's a list of them, and I believe when the diocese gets their files back from the AG - they'll be a huge list of them."
Foster adds, "The only reason anybody has been removed from this diocese is because of civil authorities and civil action. It that's what we need to do to make the Bishop throw out the rest of the guys, then we need to have that happen to."
There are those in Harrisburg, who are fighting for this too. Rep. Frank Burns says, "all I can do is continue to push for justice for these children and the victims of these crimes by removal of the statute of limitations so that we can move forward."
"John" hopes by sharing his story, change will come.
"If I could save one other victim by letting him feel better, by opening up and seeking out help - then I know I did something."
"John" is a member of SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The next open meeting of SNAP is May 31st at The Cottage in Ebensburg.
WTAJ News reached out repeatedly to the Bishop for his response. We were told he would not grant us an interview or comment about any of these new allegations. His office said the 3 Prayer Services for Healing held this week are his focus right now.
State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, will host a special panel discussion Wednesday, May 18 on statutes of limitation reform efforts in Pennsylvania featuring Phil Saviano, the real-life “Spotlight” whistleblower.
The Spotlight on Statutes of Limitation Reform panel discussion will begin at noon on Wednesday, May 18 in Senate Hearing Room 8A in the East Wing of the Capitol. The panel discussion will begin at 12:30 p.m.
Panel speakers will include:
· Phil Saviano - a Boston survivor of Catholic clergy abuse depicted in the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight”, long-time activist and member of the victims' rights group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP);
· Marci Hamilton - constitutional law expert, author and advocate;
· George Foster- Altoona businessman credited with exposing the decades-long cover-up that occurred at the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese;
· Patricia Dailey Lewis - executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children; and
· Abuse survivors from the Solebury School.
Rozzi, who has long been an advocate for statutes of limitation reform in the House, said he hopes the discussion will spur Senate action on the recently-passed H.B. 1947, which would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for child sex abuse, extend the civil statute of limitations until the victim reaches age 50 and allow adult victims of child sex abuse a permanent extension to file civil claims up to age 50.