Woman Says Local Priest Abused Her
Accuses Ex-Fall River Pastor of Molesting Her As a Teen
By Steve Urbon
June 18, 2002
An upstate New York woman has accused retired Fall River priest Robert S. Kaszinski of sexually molesting her for years when she was a teenager.
She says she knows of at least two other women with similar stories to tell.
The popular Rev. Kaszinski resigned in March when faced with an accusation of sexual misconduct dating to the mid-1960s, and many parishioners reacted with dismay and even anger that a single accuser, decades later, could have such an impact, because of the diocese's "zero tolerance" policies.
But Joyce Nebush, born and raised in the heavily Polish-American St. Stanislaus parish in Fall River, wants the community and the world to know that there were others, and that she was one of them. Her story is a departure from the familiar refrain of priests preying on adolescent males.
The former Joyce Chrupcala of Fall River said that when she stood at the altar of St. Stanislaus Church in the summer of 1971 and exchanged wedding vows with Frank J. Nebush Jr., she kept to herself the awful secret that the priest who stood before them, joining them in holy matrimony, had sexually abused her for years during her adolescence.
Joyce Nebush said she kept that memory repressed for decades as she and her husband raised their family in upstate New York, near Utica. But in recent months, the torrent of news about sexual abuse by priests drove her to write a letter to the Diocese of Fall River and to the Rev. Kaszinski, the pastor at St. Stanislaus for more than a generation.
She said she didn't want money, she wanted an apology. And she wanted her things back.
"It's so silly," she said yesterday. "But I had a necklace with a piece of jade on it, and a class ring from high school, and a string of pearls from when I stood up in a cousin's wedding." She had decided to enter the convent, she said, and the Rev. Kaszinski had offered to keep them for her, she said.
She hasn't gotten her things back, she said, and she hasn't gotten an apology.
She has, through her attorney, received an offer of payment for her psychological counseling, and both she and her husband praise Bishop Sean P. O'Malley for being responsive in that regard.
Coincidentally, her letters were mailed on the very day that the Rev. Kaszinski resigned. It was not her accusations that caused it to happen, her husband emphatically repeats.
Mrs. Nebush, whose entire young life was steeped in the ways and institutions of the Roman Catholic Church, decided to leave the convent and enter nursing school in Boston, where she met her future husband on a blind date. They lived in Fall River for several years while he commuted to law school. Today he is the chief public defender in Oneida County, N.Y., and she works for Catholic Social Services in Utica, N.Y.
But she has a new mission -- in fact, more than one.
The first is to come to grips with her experience with the Rev. Kaszinski. She wants, she says, to tell the Fall River community that the priest was not responsible for just the one incident with which he was confronted by church officials in March on the day he resigned.
No, she says, there were others. She was one, and she says she has spoken to another Fall River woman with extremely similar memories. "She'd start a story and I'd finish the story," Mrs. Nebush said, still incredulous.
The abuse, she said, occurred regularly both in the rectory and at her family home on Hamlet Street. Once, she tried to report it.
"When I was in high school (Mount St. Mary Academy in Fall River) at a retreat, I was standing in line at the conference room door," and she had decided to tell another priest what was going on, she said.
"The priest told me it was my fault. I said to myself, 'Now where am I going to go with this?'" she said.
The answer was: nowhere. "He was and is still such a beloved priest. I know God has given him such a gift of preaching and he was just a saint. No one was going to believe me."
She said she kept silent about it, mentioning it only briefly early in her relationship with her future husband without identifying the specific priest. Otherwise, she left the past alone.
But she said the memories came back in full force earlier this year amid all the news reports. After she sent her letter, family members still in the area put her in touch with Paul Krupa of Assonet, who said he knew of other alleged victims, she said.
It was Mr. Krupa who brought a formal complaint against the Rev. Kaszinski to the diocese earlier this year.
The priest resigned three weeks later.
"The story is just beginning to unfold," said Mr. Krupa, a veteran Somerset High School science teacher.
"This is going to involve many more girls than have been mentioned so far," he said.
The allegations, Mrs. Nebush said, are in the hands of the diocese and the Bristol County district attorney. But the long-expired statute of limitations on offenses committed in the 1960s seriously impairs any attempt to pursue formal charges, and she hasn't heard back after agreeing to cooperate with an investigation.
But her frustration has found an outlet in another one of Mrs. Nebush's missions: to organize a SNAP group in the Utica, N.Y., area. While she and her husband were in Dallas to meet and protest with other victims during the national bishops' conference, she was named spokeswoman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests for all of New York state except New York City, she said.
An article in her local newspaper three weeks ago has already drawn out at least six other victims of abuse by clergy, she said.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Nebush continues to attend SNAP meetings in Natick, four hours away, and watch the mailbox with diminishing expectations for an apology from the Rev. Kaszinski.
Mrs. Nebush's attorney, Courtney Pillsbury of the Boston law firm of Greenberg Traurig, was not available for comment yesterday. A spokesman for the Diocese of Fall River had no information available as of yesterday, either, and said he was unfamiliar with Mrs. Nebush's case.
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