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CENTRAL NEW YORK: Bishop Should Be Investigated Following Arrest of Priest

CENTRAL NEW YORK: Bishop Should Be Investigated Following Arrest of Pedophile Priest
Young man steps forward with story of being molested by Episcopal Priest Ralph Johnson

NEWS/COMMENTARY

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
February 18, 2010

Arrest came swiftly this week for former Episcopal priest Fr. Ralph Elwood Johnson. Johnson was charged with multiple counts each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, and corruption of a minor.

The arrest of this former 82-year old Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Central New York and the possible cover-up of the priest's sexual activities by Episcopal Bishop Gladstone (Skip) Adams years earlier beg for double justice.

The first justice should be whatever the courts determine Johnson should receive for his vile conduct. The second is what should happen to Bishop Adams who tried to conceal the priest's behavior and, in the process, attempted to depose a godly priest for being a whistleblower.

The truth is the bishop should be investigated by the national church. He should face the same charges brought against the now inhibited and deposed former Bishop of Pennsylvania, Charles E. Bennison who was forced to step down following a trial and conviction on charges that he covered up his brother's sexual abuse of a female minor.

The story begins in 2006 when the now former rector of St. Paul's Church in Owego, Fr. David G. Bollinger, claimed in a lawsuit that Bishop Gladstone Adams retaliated against him for raising allegations against then St. Paul's rector, Ralph E. Johnson.

Fr. Bollinger, now retired, said he was punished by the church for being a whistleblower and removed from his position. The bishop inhibited Bollinger six times and drew up Presentment charges against him. Fr. Bollinger prevailed in an ecclesiastical court when the diocese threw out the charges.

The lawsuit alleged the local Episcopal Diocese failed to act on an accusation of sexual abuse and retaliated against the former rector who brought up the complaint. Bollinger was vindicated by the courts. Bollinger suffered a serious heart attack at the time and retired. Adams still kept his job.

Everybody in the diocese wanted it all to just go away. Sex abuse scandals rarely do, however, as the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has learned to its dismay. Scandal can erupt years later with horrible consequences. Over the weekend, Pope Benedict XVI took 24 Irish bishops to task for the sex abuse crisis in that country, calling the scandal a "heinous crime."

The Diocese of Central New York tried to block Fr. Bollinger from performing his duties at St. Paul's when the scandal first erupted. The diocese claimed that Bollinger misused money while rector at the church. Bollinger said the diocese invented the claim as a means of retaliation.

The win by Bollinger in church court brought this response by his attorney, "It's further vindication of the position we've taken Bollinger claims that years earlier, he alerted Episcopal officials to Johnson's alleged sexual misconduct, but was rebuffed by Gladstone." Johnson later resigned from the priesthood amid allegations that he abused a young boy in the 1970s.

VOL believes that a thorough investigation and appropriate charges should be brought against Bishop Adams similar to those brought against Bishop Bennison.

*****

The following story was sent to VOL after Ralph Johnson, former rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Owego, was arraigned this week by the police on 15 counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, a felony; 15 counts of indecent assault, a misdemeanor; and 15 counts of corruption of minors.

The incidents, representing about 15 encounters between the suspect and the alleged victim, happened at Johnson's home in Gibson Township, Susquehanna County, between 1992 and 1995, according to a police report.

VOL believes that the heinousness of these crimes should be made public and Bishop Adams should be investigated for his lack of inaction in dealing adequately with Johnson. The abused man has asked to remain anonymous.

By Anonymous
Exclusive to Virtueonline
February 17, 2010

This started when I couldn't live with this burden any more dealing with my molestation as a kid.

I googled Ralph Johnson's name and had a suspicion that his name was out there.

I found all the articles (see links below) on how Fr. David Bollinger was oppressed by the Central New York Diocese and how they did not give him any credence and what they did to defame him.

For years, I hid this because it was virtually impossible to talk about. Father Johnson always told me that no one would ever believe me and that his actions were righteous. He would imply that it is his word against mine and the CNY Diocese loves him, so good luck.

Funny thing, when I used to stay at Ralph's house, Michael Jackson was going this convictions and Ralph defended Jackson, stating that "the boy probably wanted it and his parents are jealous." I felt so convicted that I contacted the State Troopers in Gibson, PA and gave them a report and contacted the CNY Diocese. That same night, I received an email from Fr. John Martinichio requesting that I call him immediately. I contacted Fr. John and he told me that there were allegations about Ralph Johnson and he told me over the phone that Ralph Johnson was ordered to resign his ordination as a priest.

That was a lie, Ralph voluntarily resigned his orders.

Fr. John was not at all concerned about my well-being but he was avid, first telling me that I should be reminded of my legal rights and that it was probably beyond the statute of limitations, so in essence, good luck. He didn't offer any counseling or any other kind of assistance at that time nor did he seem to care. He also reminded me that Ralph no longer worked for the Diocese so any implication of him (Martinichio) would have no bearing on the CNY Diocese. This was clearly an effort to exonerate himself and remove any guilt he might have.

I was very disappointed in this phone call and felt victimized by it. I felt that I was treated like a criminal for reporting abuse.

The following day, I contacted someone who used to be affiliated with the Diocese and came to find out that this person had known of my travels to Father Johnson's over the weekend in the 1990s and reported it to the CNY Diocese in 2004.

Neither my family nor myself had ever received any sort of contact from the CNY Diocese inquiring about the incident. To me what was the most hurtful thing is the fact that they didn't care. This person told me to contact the Diocese that I currently live in and open an investigation.

I felt incredibly scared and cried for about an hour after that phone call. I contacted the Diocese where I now reside and they opened an investigation. They asked me a few questions and then sent it back to the CNY Diocese. The person who worked with contacted me back. She was rude about the fact that I had made contact with her and the diocese but she did not yell at me. She was callous and showed that she did her part and then offered up a 'leave me alone' mentality. Later that night Fr. John contacted me and yelled at me for not bringing it to his attention. He said he was going to make arrangements for counseling.

The fact is that it took an outside source, another Diocese, before they would offer any sort of counseling.

When I talked to my counselor, there was a sense of urgency from the Diocese to rush through the counseling process so they could wash their hands of it all and be done with it.

Last week I sent an email to Fr. John Martinichio but have heard nothing back from him. I believe he owed me a simple, 'I hope you're doing ok. I am sorry to see things went wrong,' but nothing at all.

I believe that the dioceses' pathetic damage control that made it into the newspapers from the office of the Bishop, is just that, pathetic. They do not have anyone else's concerns or intentions at heart except to protect themselves.

As I think about all this I am not sure what is more nightmarish, my horrific childhood experience or dealing with the CNY Diocese.

I plead with you if you are reading this, if you are a victim of Ralph Johnson, please come forward and alert the authorities. I urge you to, because this pedophilia pandemic that exists in our society needs to stop, especially by those whom claim to speak for God and those most coveted people who aim to bring us peace and love in our lives - the church.

The following stories regarding Ralph Johnson can be accessed here:

http://www.wbng.com/news/local/84532757.html

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=12103

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=12052

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=6355

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4098

END

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