Complaint Filed against Gilpin

By Michael Barber
Bradenton Herald
February 24, 2005

MANATEE — A man filed a complaint with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office last month claiming Joseph Gilpin made an unwanted advance on him while he was a student at Bayshore High in 1979.

In the report, Allen Douglas Storms said he was a senior at Bayshore that fall when Gilpin approached him during an overnight school trip to Orlando. The report shows Storms, now 42, filed the complaint Jan. 30, two days after Gilpin resigned as an assistant principal at Haile Middle School amid allegations he molested two boys while a Catholic seminarian in the 1960s. Despite inquiries from The Herald in recent weeks about any new complaints regarding Gilpin, Manatee County sheriff's officials said they did not find the complaint filed by Storms until Wednesday.

"It takes a while for it to go into the computer," Manatee County sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow said. "We get hundreds of incident reports a day sometimes."

Because Storms' complaint involved 26-year-old allegations that had exceeded the statute of limitations, and because the incident occurred in another jurisdiction, sheriff's officials said they will not investigate the claim further.

Sheriff's officials also said Gilpin's action didn't constitute a crime. At most, it would have been considered a simple form of battery. Bristow said if the sheriff's office receives recent allegations of abuse, the agency will investigate.

"Nothing has been assigned to detectives" concerning Gilpin, he said.

In an interview with The Herald on Wednesday morning, Storms said he came forward because he felt there might be other students with similar experiences.

"I just definitely want to bring a little more light to this," he said. "It seems like the school board is just sweeping it under the rug because he is retired or resigned."

Gilpin, 60, did not return multiple calls from The Herald. He has declined comment since two allegations of sexual abuse, dating back to the 1960s, surfaced Jan. 26.

In the report filed Jan. 30, Storms, who lives in Sarasota, contends the unwanted advance occurred in October 1979 at a Holiday Inn along International Boulevard in Orlando.

A check of Gilpin's personnel file by The Herald includes a report of Gilpin attending a Florida Foreign Language Association state meeting with students at a Holiday Inn along International Boulevard in Orlando between Oct. 18 and 20, 1979.

In the sheriff's office report, Storms said the event occurred during the high school's homecoming weekend. Herald archives indicate Bayshore's homecoming was the weekend of Oct. 20, 1979.

During the October trip, Storms said he and four or five other students checked in at the hotel along with Gilpin shortly after 2 p.m. Storms said he learned that afternoon that he and Gilpin would be staying in the same room.

That night, at around 10:30 p.m., Storms said Gilpin entered the room, according to the report.

"He was very drunk," Storms stated in a handwritten affidavit.

In the report, Storms said Gilpin sat next to him on the bed and placed his hand on Storms' leg.

Storms told Gilpin he did not understand and wanted to go home immediately. According to the report, Gilpin pleaded with him to stay and to not tell anyone. Storms asked another student to drive him home. Gilpin accompanied the two students on the ride, the report stated. Storms said he told his parents what happened.

He did not report the incident to school officials or law enforcement, he told The Herald.

"At that point in time, I was a senior in high school," he said. "I was graduating in six or seven months — all I wanted to do was get out of his classes. So, that was what happened at the time."

Storms told The Herald his parents wrote a note to Gilpin, asking him to transfer their son out of his classes or they would report the incident to authorities. Storms said Gilpin complied with his parents' request. His parents could not be reached Wednesday night for comment.

Storms said he contacted a Pinellas Park attorney, Joseph Saunders. Attempts by The Herald to reach Saunders on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

"I got a little bit of legal counsel," Storms said. "I just found out yesterday that there's nothing we can do, but I personally want to shed more light on this."

An accuser in Maine notified the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests about his accusations after learning Joseph Gilpin had been working with the Manatee County School District for 34 years. The man, whose identity has not been released, is in settlement negotiations with the Diocese of Portland in relation to his allegations.

The organization alerted Manatee County Superintendent Roger Dearing on Jan. 26 of the Maine case and a 2001 civil lawsuit filed in Boston, which names Gilpin as one of several clergy members who were part of a multi-million dollar settlement case against the Boston Archdiocese.

Dearing placed Gilpin on paid administrative leave that same day. Gilpin resigned Jan. 28, ending his career with the Manatee County School District.

Gilpin's personnel file includes two instances of "unwarranted touching" of students, records show.

In October 1996, Gilpin was cited for patting a girl down and reaching into her pockets because he suspected the girl was smoking cigarettes.

In May 2000, a school information report was filed with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office accusing Gilpin of an "unwarranted touch" of a female student at Johnson Middle School where he "hit her on the side of the buttock with a book," according to documents.

Reports of a third incident, which occurred in November at Haile, were not in Gilpin's file.

According to a report from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, Haile faculty notified the sheriff's office in November after three male students claimed Gilpin made lewd remarks to them during a school function. One of the boys also alleged Gilpin patted him on his bottom.

The boys gave conflicting statements and one of the accusers also admitted exaggerating. Authorities concluded there was no evidence of a criminal violation and no charges were filed against Gilpin.

No charges were brought against Gilpin in any of the complaints in Manatee.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.