Columnist Ruthe Deskin: a Tale Sure to Bowl You over

By Ruthe Deskin
Las Vegas Sun
May 2, 2002

The utterly devastating revelations of child molestation by a few Catholic priests, and the handling of those cases by upper echelon in the church, is shocking and sure to damage this great and proud religion.

Forty years ago, I had a strange experience involving a Catholic priest. It had nothing to do with physical acts, but here's the story:

In the early 1960s I was asked to join a bowling team headed for the national tournament in Denver. The team was sponsored by Robert Rand Enterprises from Palm Springs, Calif. It was an all-expenses-paid offering.

An opportunity I couldn't refuse.

We flew to Denver where we had spacious rooms at the Denver Hilton. Our sponsor, Robert Rand, did everything to make the trip memorable, including a lavish, private dinner at the Hilton.

Each of us received a warm note of thanks for bowling under the Rand sponsorship, a $50 bill, a silver filigree bracelet and a cut-crystal vase with an American Beauty rose.

We took it all in stride as we knew Rand was infatuated with one of our bowlers. Both claimed the relationship was platonic, but no one really cared.

Some time after the trip, I received a call from Dial Torgerson, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He asked me if I knew Rand, and when I told him I did, he said he would like to see me in Las Vegas.

Torgerson came to my office at the Sun and revealed an almost unbelievable story.

Rand was a Catholic priest, better known as the Rev. Robert Nikliborc. He owned a lavish home in Palm Springs, where he lived under the name Robert Drew Rand. He also owned a home in Las Vegas.

On Rand's frequent visits to Las Vegas, the people with whom he associated were never sure what Robert Rand Enterprises meant. Some assumed he was a Rand of Remington Rand or Sperry-Rand. All thought he was wealthy.

In California, where he was Father Robert Nikliborc, he ran Boys Town in the Desert in Banning.

Rand's double life was finally exposed when he was charged in Federal Court with income tax evasion. In 1968 the Rev. Robert Nikliborc plead guilty to two counts of failing to file income taxes.

Most of the key players in this little drama are gone. I don't know what happened to Father Nikliborc Rand, but I still have a lovely silver bracelet to remind me of a bowling trip "all-expenses paid" -- funding for which possibly came from donations originally earmarked for a boys school in Southern California.

Several years back, a federal judge thought it necessary to order the government to change the way they wrote form letters for Medicare. He said Medicare recipients find the letters incomprehensible and misleading.

"The language used," the judge said, "is bureaucratic, gobbledygook, jargon, double talk, a form of officalease, federalese and insurancese. It does not qualify as English."

The same could be said about statements from hospitals, insurance companies and health-care organizations.

As an example, I just received billing from a home health-care company for services that took place two years ago.


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