Accuser's 'Life Was Destroyed'

By Richard Dymond
Bradenton Herald
February 2, 2005

Joseph Gilpin's accuser from Maine has been divorced three times, is alienated from his one child, is hooked on drugs and suffers from depression and anxiety, his attorney said.

"He's had anything but a normal life," said Irwin Zalkin, a partner in the San Diego law firm Zalkin & Zimmer LLP. Zalkin declined to reveal the identity of his client, who he said is now in his 50s and working as a mechanic. But Zalkin and his client contend that all his emotional problems stem from sexual encounters with Gilpin in the 1960s.

Zalkin & Zimmer handles roughly 200 clergy sexual abuse cases a year, the attorney said.

"He is very typical of what children experience," Zalkin said. "He has a difficulty with sexual identity and very difficult times in relationships. His life was destroyed. . . . He's had a life of substance abuse and multiple marriage."

Gilpin, 60, resigned as an assistant principal at Haile Middle School on Jan. 28 after a 34-year career as a teacher and administrator in Manatee County schools. Allegations of sexual molestation in his past surfaced locally for the first time last week, when the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a Chicago-based organization, brought alleged incidents of abuse to the attention of Superintendent Roger Dearing.

Gilpin was one of many defendants named in sexual molestation lawsuits filed against the Archdiocese of Boston that resulted in a multi-million dollar settlement in 2003, according to court documents.

In the civil suit, dating to 2001, an accuser alleged that Gilpin sexually molested him during the 1960s at a camp in Duxbury, Mass.

Zalkin's client came forward in 2003 with a claim of sexual molestation when Gilpin was a fifth-grade teacher in the late 1960s at St. Mary's School in Biddeford, Maine. Zalkin's law firm is working with the Catholic Diocese of Portland to settle the claim, the attorney said.

Zalkin said records exist in a Catholic diocese in Massachusetts that will prove Gilpin was transferred to Maine because of molestation in Massachusetts.

"Yes, we believe there is a history here and a reason this guy got transferred," Zalkin said. "We know there is a claim in Massachusetts prior to ours and this guy is transferred. That process is a formalized process. It doesn't just happen.

"Information regarding criminal actions or sins committed by clergy would be kept in a secret archive and whether we will be able to get to that remains to be seen," Zalkin added. "If we file a lawsuit, we can get it via the subpoena process."

The client from Maine told Zalkin that he had an unsuccessful stint in the U.S. Navy, receiving other than an honorable discharge.

"What caused our client to come out and remember all this, I really don't know," Zalkin said. "I don't think he knew where Gilpin was."

As a young boy, the client referred to Gilpin as Father Gilpin, even though Gilpin was a seminarian, said Zalkin, reading from the investigative file of his client.

Gilpin took the boy on trips, Zalkin said.

"At some point in the car, Gilpin would start groping our client, putting his hand on his genitals," Zalkin said. "And he would actually talk to their parents about them spending the night. He would buddy up to the boys. As a kid, to have that kind of attention, was great."

Zalkin contends that Gilpin had the boys go to a hotel with him where he would sleep with them.

"He had my clients and the others sleep in bed and perform sexual acts, pretty aggressive acts," Zalkin said.

Gilpin is an active member of Christ Episcopal Church in Bradenton and a member of the church vestry.

"The church interim's rector is out of town and staff didn't want to comment without his approval, " said Jim DeLa, a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida.

Repeated visits and phone calls to Gilpin's home seeking his response to the allegations have been unsuccessful.


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