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At age five, 1954, "The Bishop" (Card. Stritch) stood over me and said, "Stop babbling about what Father Horne did to you." It took me 40 years to talk about it again. Now, I babble. - ke
In 2009 our ongoing coverage of the pedophile epidemic in the Catholic Church will be at http://cityofangels5.blogspot.com/ .

Read more stories by Kay Ebeling, LA city buzz Examiner at http://www.examiner.com/x-1960-LA-City-Buzz-Examiner

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Raped by Episcopal clergy as a teen, 80 year old victim still trying to get justice from Diocese in PA. Gets doubletalk, empty promises instead

The diocese says, sure, we will post your story, then hides it in an apology that does not even name the perpetrator. Ralph White faces obstruction from the Episcopal Church, eerily similar to treatment received by Catholic victims.

At age 80, White wants the story about abuse he suffered at the hands of Gibson Bell at All Saints Parish published widely, as he still believes there are other victims. Story distributed by Janet Patterson, clergy sex crime victims' advocate, who can be reached at: snapkansas@hotmail.com

For more than 60 years, a Philadelphia man has been on a quest. In his attempts to tell his story of clergy sexual abuse during his teen years, he has been rejected, stonewalled, and intimidated.

Ralph E. White, Jr. endured physical abuse and institutional imprisonment following his threats to reveal his sexual abuse by the family minister, the late Rev. Dr. Gibson Bell.

After appealing to successive bishops and church authorities over a 30 year period, including extensive correspondence with indicted former bishop Charles Bennison, Mr. White received a written apology by church officials this year.

As his health declines from congestive heart failure, he wants follow through by church officials on their promise to publish his story/church apology in their newsletter and their agreement to help him financially for medical care.

Church leaders are ignoring repeated letters, e-mails, and phone calls from his pro bono attorney. Time is running out for Ralph White.

Short videos with Ralph White at YouTube:


The Episcopal Diocese apology to White from January 2008, can be read at;

Wade, Goldstein, Landau & Abruzzo attorneys in Pennsylvania issued this statement about the case of Ralph White:

Mr. White, as an adolescent was sexually abused by Rev. Dr. Gibson Bell, his family’s minister and close friend. That he was sexually abused is tragic in itself, that the perpetrator was a member of the clergy made it all the more horrific. That it was covered up, worse—but comprehensible.

When he tried to speak out as a young man, the perpetrator and his family conspired to have him committed to a state mental hospital

Attorney statement continued:

But Mr. White’s story, and his suffering, is all the more horrific, because when he tried to speak out as a young man, the perpetrator and his family conspired to have him committed to a state mental hospital.

While he was imprisoned, his father died, and his mother rewrote her will to disinherit her son and gave her entire estate, his inheritance, to the very perpetrator.

When Dr. Bell died, he left a portion of his estate to the parish where much of the abuse took place.

It is suffering piled on suffering.

Despite all that Mr. White, so traumatized that he cannot set foot in a Christian Church, has never once lost faith in God, and has found some comfort and solace in the expression of faith in Judaism.

The Diocese offers car fare as retribution

Attorney statement continued:

He has, for years, tried to obtain redress and justice from the Episcopal church, and has been almost always rebuffed, and when not rebuffed entirely, his suffering has been minimized and his pleas for some kind of restitution have been turned away or, most recently, been made light of through insulting diminimus offers of “car fare”.

In January of this year, Mr. White managed, with the help of others, to get a hearing in front of the Standing Committee for the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

There, they took what seemed to be the extraordinary step of acknowledging the harm that had been done to Mr. White, and published an apology, which if one looks for it hard enough can be found on the Diocesan web-site.

Published apology left out name of perpetrator

Attorney statement continued:

They did not provide the perpetrator’s name, and the Committee has not done any more to publicize the matter as it had indicated it would do, by publishing Mr. White’s story. Finally, in response to a request for some financial restitution, the Committee has fallen back on a statement that it is in a finically tough situation, and cannot afford to do anything for him beyond some nominal assistance with transportation.

This firm became involved on Mr. White’s behalf, late this spring to try to open a dialogue as to how his story might conclude. Mr. White is old and in poor health, and we wanted to, without instituting a lawsuit, see if we could bring to completion, Mr. White’s 60 year long quest for justice—which the Standing Committee had taken the first (seemingly) courageous step to bringing about.

We proposed the following to them:

1. The Resolution, posted January 25, is difficult to find. The story should appear on the main site with a link to the Resolution and Mr. White’s narrative. The Resolution, with its acknowledgement and apology needs to be made more public in order to be effective. The Resolution and the narrative should also appear on the All Saints Parish web-site (All Saints is the place where Dr. Bell was recor at the time of the abuse and where some of the abuse actually took place).

2. Naming the wrong is important, but just as important is naming the perpetrator and those who helped him. History and justice are in the details. Rev. Bell’s name appears nowhere in the Resolution. Neither do the names of those who helped him to maintain the cloud of secrecy, or who turned away from Mr. White’s pleas for help, appear. They should. Again, by publication of Mr. White’s narrative and supporting documentation, this can be corrected.

3. As noted above, Mr. White’s saga has a particular twist—the perpetrator inherited what should properly have been the victim’s inheritance. He then gave a portion of that ill gotten gain to the very institution that assisted him in his wrongdoing.

the Diocese did not have the financial resources to assist him other than to help arrange for rides to his various doctors appointments

Mr. White asked the Standing Committee for some financial assistance so that the few remaining years he has to live might be made easier, bridging the gap between his resources and his living expenses. The Committee responded to Mr. White’s request with a statement that the Committee and the Diocese did not have the financial resources to assist him other than to help arrange for rides to his various doctors appointments.

In light of the magnitude of the wrongdoing by Rev. Bell, as well as by the Church in its concealment and turning a deaf ear to Mr. White, the offer of assistance with rides is hardly the kind of restitution that would help to make right what was once so wrong. Indeed, if anything, it makes light of the harm—harm that the Church benefited from.

The Episcopal Church’s “Safe Church Manual” speaks of restoration of “right relationship” and of justice to the victims of abuse. Canon law speaks of making restitution for the kind of wrongs inflicted on Mr. White. Assistance with rides is not enough.

Given the above, we specifically asked for:

• The creation of a trust for the benefit of Mr. White to provide him with an annuity for the remainder of his years, the value to be based on the present value of what the Church received when Rev. Bell died in 1979. Given the direct link between the wrongdoing, the concealment and failure to act to the receipt of tainted money, I think that may be an appropriate way to approach the issue of restitution.

'When it comes to restitution, all they have to give him in return for ill gotten gain is some money.'

To be sure, there is no amount of money large enough to compensate Mr. White for the suffering, the loss of relationship with his family, friends and community, or for the years of being unable to hold meaningful employment. That said, when it comes to restitution, all we have to give him in return for ill gotten gain is some money. Mr. White is not looking to get rich through a settlement (nor is it our position that this act of restitution should do so).

He is looking for assistance. It will not do to say that there are no resources.

There are a number of complicit parties, all of whom need to step forward and correct, as best they can, what was, and continues to be an ongoing wrong.

• Upon Mr. White’s death, the proceeds would go to such charitable organization as he would direct by will for the prevention of, and restitution for, clergy sexual abuse as well as the promotion of reconciliation.

• As noted above, a greater search optimization and publication of Mr. White’s narrative and the Standing Committee’s Resolution—which narrative will name those who participated in the wrongdoing.

• A Healing Service to be held, jointly and in conjunction with Mr. White’s Synagogue, if it wishes to participate, the details of which could be worked out.

• The participation by representatives of the Standing Committee and the Diocese in articles to be published in a variety of settings. It may seem difficult to believe, but Mr. White and this firm feel that the opportunity for justice to take place here correctly involves giving the Church an opportunity to help write the end of the narrative of this tragic story.

The corporate and institutional guilt associated with Rev. Bell’s actions

Attorney statement continued:

It does so by publicly accepting the responsibility (more publicly than a hard to find Resolution on a not highly trafficked web-site) for the corporate and institutional guilt associated with Rev. Bell’s actions and telling its story of the actions it has taken and is now taking, to rectify the wrongs of the past and what it is doing to confront those problems going forward.

The latter, the current actions and statement, after all, are all that the Church--or for that matter, any of us—is responsible for at the end of the day. We cannot undo the wrongs of the past; we can only do right, right now. Allowing the Church to present its story in this context, allows for that to happen.

Unfortunately, the Committee has never responded to our proposal made to and through its attorney, Chancellor Michael Rehill. He has not responded to phone calls or emails. The only communication to Mr. White was that it was a mistake for him to engage an attorney.

The Committee’s and Mr. Rehill’s stonewalling, coupled with Bishop Bartlett’s back-door attempts to sweep this problem under the carpet, and the Standing Committee’s initially insulting offer to do justice by offering him assistance with transportation, are less than one would have hoped for, but unfortunately are not surprising.

The admission of responsibility for Rev. Bell’s horrific abuse of Mr. White and the subsequent cover-up and ill-treatment of Mr. White by the church came undoubtedly only after a determination had been made that such admission could not result in any financial exposure. Such is the quintessential cynical act by a cynical body more concerned with the appearance of justice than the real thing.

Bishop Bartlett has stated to Mr. White that the Standing Committee desires to deal openly and honestly with this terrible crime, and that is why the Standing Committee has listened to Mr. White, believed him and apologized to him—even though they had “no direct responsibility” for what was done to him.

It may be that no one on the Committee was “directly” involved in the abuse that took place. It may also be that none of the current members of the Committee were involved in keeping the truth of Rev. Bell’s monstrous behavior from coming to light, although the active silencing of Mr. White has only recently ended. Even so, All Saints Parish, the Committee and this Diocese are the direct beneficiaries of Rev. Bell’s actions, having received some of the money wrongly bequeathed to him.

It is a duty the Committee is mocking by refusing to address it

But were that not so, they still have a duty—directly to Mr. White--to redress the wrongs he suffered at the hands of those who preceded him and who were acting for and on behalf of the Church when they abused him, imprisoned him and then actively and maliciously silenced him, taking his voice and crushing his spirit.

This is a duty that goes beyond those that might be imposed by civil or even canon law. It is a duty the Committee is mocking by refusing to address it, to respond with even a simple return telephone call to open discussions.

Again, we invite the Diocese to dialogue with Mr. White and to take the affirmative actions we have asked them to take previously to do the justice the Gospel demands they do.


(CAN: Good luck. City of Angels googled Rev. Gibson Bell and found this interesting note on Page 166 of The Handbook of Private Schools by Porter Sargent, published 1918:)

Montgomery School, Wynnewood, is a country day school providing instruction for boys from seven years old upward, opened in 1915 by the Rev. Gibson Bell

-- From Google Books at:


In Wynnewood, PA, there is now a Montgomery School Lane.

The Story Goes Onward. . .

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