I was sexually assaulted as a Boy Scout and won’t stay anonymous because I want to help others
By Michael Mautone
March 27, 2019
|In 2004, despite claims he sexually abused minors, Rev. Kevin Gugliotta was assigned to Saint Bartholomew’s in Scotch Plains, where his duties included youth ministry. He's seen here, at left, in a police mugshot after a 2016 arrest in Pennsylvania for disseminating child pornography, and at right when he was assigned to the Archdiocese of Newark.|
I am the first known victim of priest Kevin Gugliotta. I am no longer Mr. X. My name is Michael Mautone.
In the past I have come forward anonymously to report the assault by Gugliotta and speak out against the church’s failure to protect others from him. Today, I go public for many reasons. First and foremost I stand in support of all victims to encourage them to come forward … not necessarily go public as I am doing today … to come forward and report the crimes of your abusers.
I stand in support of change to systems and organizations that failed to address this issue and instead allowed perpetrators to repeat their offenses. I stand to hold accountable those in power who directly took action or inaction in a choice to protect abusers over a choice to protect children and young adults. And I stand to finally hold accountable Kevin Gugliotta for his crimes against me and others.
I am deeply pained and saddened by the recent news that another victim has come forward to report being assaulted by Kevin. In 2003, I filed a complaint with the Newark Archdiocese alleging that Gugliotta had abused me in the 1980s when he was a Boy Scout leader. He later became a priest.
Following my complaint in 2003, Gugliotta was suspended from ministry. The Newark Archdiocese reinstated him in 2004, ruling that he could not be punished because the abuse occurred before he became a priest. Immediately after reinstating Gugliotta, Archbishop Myers allowed him to be assigned to Saint Bartholomew’s in Scotch Plains, a parish less than 3 miles from my home, where his duties included becoming a youth minister. It is there that Kevin is alleged to have abused this new victim.
The knowledge that Kevin has harmed others is very distressing to me. In 2017, he was permanently removed from ministry after pleading guilty to disseminating child pornography.
Kevin was my Scout leader. I believe Kevin took advantage of Catholic values of forgiveness and not judging others, as well as scouting values, which I held dear at a young age. I also believe Kevin counted on such values to keep his secret as long as possible.
Kevin also picked his victim well. I was raised as a devout Catholic. In a large family of gregarious Italian Catholics, I was the quiet, serious, and sensitive one. Kevin was a close family friend. He did many good things for me and my family long before, during and even after the abuse.
Likewise, the church veils its shortcomings behind its many good deeds. Kevin took time and effort to groom me and my family, and then subtly began to abuse me, and at that time my first response was disbelief. This disbelief lasted many years, long after distancing myself from him. Perhaps another obstacle for me to overcome was some myths about the negative impacts of coming forward.
When I reached the point of seeing things clearly enough to know others may be at risk and knowing that I had to do something to protect them, the first thing I did as a Catholic was seek the advice of a good priest. His advice to me included a warning that if I came forward to report the abuse to the authorities, my story would quickly go public and my name would be dragged through the mud. I now know all of these myths to be untrue.
Because of my personal experience, I understand many of the reasons victims do not come forward. While coming forward may be difficult, I would share that coming forward has mostly been a healing experience for me. Furthermore, coming forward simply feels like the right thing to do.
To all the victims of Kevin Gugliotta I would like to say this: We did nothing wrong, Kevin did! This is not our secret, it is Kevin’s! And now it is Archbishop Myers’ secret and the Archdiocese’s secret! I refuse to keep this secret any longer! Be brave and come forward. I am here for you and I stand with you! I urge you to call your local county prosecutor or the New Jersey attorney general’s hotline at 855-363-6548 to share your story.
You are not alone, and you will be believed.
Mautone is a 49-year-old father who lives in Union County.