Man Tells of Abuse by Priest-Uncle

By Dafney Tales
Philadelphia Daily News
January 8, 2010

It was the middle of the night when a young John Katubi was roused by someone who slipped into bed with him.

It was his uncle, the Rev. Robert Gaghan, a parish priest and teacher, who Katubi said fondled him under the covers and then performed oral sex on him.

Katubi said it happened that one time, but since then, his life had been wrought with emotional distress, an overwhelming sense of guilt and substance abuse. Now, Katubi, 64, a divorced father who lives in Florida, is trying to pick up the pieces.

"I realized I had problems, but the cause [for them] I realized about a year ago," he said yesterday at a demonstration outside Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School, in South Philadelphia. He had attended Neumann years after his abuse, where Gaghan taught. Neumann and Goretti merged in 2004.

John Katubi (right) meets with Neumann-Goretti Principal Patricia Sticco at school yesterday.
Photo by David Maialetti

"I thought this was some kind of initiation that I didn't know about," he said.

A handful of supporters joined him yesterday outside the school, at 10th and Morris streets, to request that school officials inform alumni about Gaghan and to encourage possible victims to come forward. Katubi didn't tell anyone of his abuse until 2008, when he reported the incident to Daylesford Abbey, in Paoli, run by the Norbertines, who supervised Gaghan before his death in 1989.

An investigation "determined that Mr. Katubi's allegation of sexual abuse by the Rev. Robert Gaghan was credible," a statement released by an abbey spokesman said yesterday.

Officials had offered Katubi assistance with counseling, the statement further reads. But their offer, which Katubi's lawyer, Michelle Betti, said was $2,000 per year for 10 years, was unsatisfactory.

It's not enough because he believes that his uncle, who died of liver disease, may have molested more boys. His younger brother Robert had admitted to being another one of his alleged victims. His other brother, Andrew, he said, was abused by a friend of their uncle's, also a priest. Both later died of drug overdoses, he said.

Outside the school, Patricia Sticco, Neumann-Goretti principal, sympathized with Katubi.

"I'm sorry for what happened to you," she said to him before shaking his hand. She referred media inquiries to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Farrell urged abuse victims to contact the Victims' Assistance Office at 888-800-8780 or at phila

Contact: or 215-854-5084


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