Baltimore News Media Embarrass Themselves With Spineless Coverage of “Abuse Enabler’s” Funeral – Stories by Tom Nugent and Linda Tiburzi

Sun, TV Reporters Heap Praise
On Archbishop Who Permitted
Sexual Abuse of Baltimore Kids

“Cowardly and Despicable,” Say Critics
Of Pomp and Circumstance at Funeral
For Baltimore Archbishop William Keeler

By Tom Nugent

When former Baltimore Archbishop and Roman Catholic Cardinal William Henry Keeler was laid to rest on March 28 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, the local news media fell all over themselves in an embarrassing display of dishonest journalism that was obviously aimed at pandering to the region’s 500,000 Catholics.

The sanitized coverage of Keeler’s funeral failed to mention the fact that he had reportedly helped to cover up massive sexual crimes against defenseless children throughout much of his tenure (1989-2007) as the Archbishop of Baltimore.

During the mid-1990s, Keeler reportedly presided over a campaign of smears, lies and intimidation (including harassment by Church-hired private detectives) aimed at survivors of rampant sexual abuse at Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough High School, according to numerous abuse victims who later described the attacks in detail.

The wide-ranging 1990s cover-up took place during a massive, $40-million sex-abuse lawsuit against the Archdiocese. In order to fend off the lawsuit, Keeler and his attorneys did everything they could to discredit the plaintiffs . . . while insisting that the alleged abuser-priest at the high school was innocent of all charges.

Only a few years later, however, they defrocked that same priest – while conceding that the compelling evidence of abuse against him was “found to be credible”. Soon after that admission, they began paying a lengthy series of “mediated settlements” to his many victims. Those payoffs, eventually involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, were also accompanied by archdiocesan “apologies” for the abuse that had taken place under his leadership at the high school.

But the story didn’t end there.

As later documented in Inside Baltimore, the niggling payments to the survivors (usually amounting to no more than $20,000-$40,000) invariably required the victims to sign contracts in which they gave up all rights to future compensation . . . forever.

“It was nothing more than financial ‘risk management,’” said one former Keough student who was familiar with the payoff contracts. “They were paying pennies on the dollar, in order to protect against future lawsuits, in case the Maryland General Assembly ever changes the Statute of Limitations on childhood sex abuse – which might open the door to major lawsuits potentially involving millions of dollars.

“It was despicable.”

But none of these deeply disturbing facts made it into the Baltimore Sun stories about the heart-swelling “pomp and circumstance” that dominated the funeral of Archbishop Keeler, who died on March 23.

The headline on the Sun story read:

“Keeler Eulogized as a ‘Wise and Gentle Pastor’”

The story beneath that headline didn’t mention how the Archdiocese – under his direction – had reportedly hired detectives to dig up dirt that might discredit sex abuse victims during the legal proceedings in the mid-1990s.

Instead, Baltimore’s monopoly newspaper breathlessly described “the six U.S. cardinals and 30 bishops” who attended the funeral ceremonies, while also quoting local politicians and Church officials who heaped praise on the reported abuse-enabler.

Nor was there any mention in the Sun story of a former Baltimore-area Catholic parochial school student who had died only a few days before the Cardinal’s funeral.

Unlike the Cardinal, who died at age 86 and was then honored as a “Prince of the Church,” this victim died in her early fifties . . . after a life that her friends described as “endless torture”.

After struggling for years with chronic problems related to her abuse, the victim reportedly expired in the depths of despair.

Who will remember her?

*****

SURVIVOR: MY STORY

By Linda Tiburzi

                 Linda Tiburzi is a self-described Baltimore-area “thriving survivor of childhood sexual abuse who is now using her voice to empower survivors everywhere to help end sexual violence.” Along with a group of other 1970s abuse survivors at the Catholic Community Middle School in the Locust Point section of Baltimore, she contributed to the court case that put their abuser in prison for four life sentences plus ten years.

I had no shadow.

In my survivor-mind’s eye, I’m sometimes not 56 years old, but 11.

In some ways, I’m still the child who’s searching for honesty, love and compassion.

But when those visions come, I can’t see, because there is no light.

She’s cowering back there in the dark, hiding in fear.

In that dark world, my inner child is buried, left for dead. She’s screaming and hoping someone hears her. Someone must rescue her! All self-worth has been heinously ripped away. Up became down and down became up.

Where does the adult me turn for help? Who will listen? And why does all of this have to be so hard? I’m the only person who can help myself!

For a survivor of child sexual abuse, it can take a lifetime of continuous work on self to achieve any sense of wholeness.
Yes, I struggled. But then the day to begin the real work finally arrived. It was finally time to put on the “big girl” pants.

Time to start confronting my lifelong challenge.

Twenty-two years of therapy, off and on, lay ahead of me.

My psychologist’s job was to guide me. She would hold the candle that lit my path.

Breathe. Now breathe again. The abuser no longer holds a gun to your head.

Bring down the anxiety. Learn to love yourself. Learn to embrace your inner child. Slowly, painfully, I gained coping skills.
Two decades after that difficult beginning, however, fear once again stared me in the face.

Now a pastoral gesture was being offered by the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

My reaction was swift: a flood of memories overcame me.

Panic set in. Now my inner child was angrier than ever. She kicked, bit, spat, and cursed them to the fires of hell. How dare they put a price tag on my head? And so my coping skills kicked in for self-protection. My tears flowed – and they were the warmest I’d ever felt. I imagined cradling the child within me, gently soothing her. I vowed to protect, and we became one. I would finally be the one to tell of the darkest evil. To tell the ones who needed to hear it the most. And I told.

Flash forward: in late March of 2017, a local news anchor announces the death of Baltimore Roman Catholic Cardinal William H. Keeler.

“A kind man. A light of hope.”

But that was far from the reality (and the legacy) of the man I had known – who had actually been an enabler, a pedophile protector, and the keeper of some very dark secrets.

He had conspired to enable and protect clergy, a lay teacher and also a School Sisters of Notre Dame nun within the Catholic parochial school system of Baltimore.

He had made sure that abuser-priests were shuffled around. And that the lay teacher who was my abuser was allowed to continue teaching. He’d also helped to ensure that the nun who was principal of my school (and who had personally witnessed my abuse, along with abuse of other children) later actually became the principal of Baltimore’s Cathedral School.

Thanks to his interference, she was eventually even transferred to an administrative position in Rome.

All of this is historical fact, of course, and these days can easily be found in court documents and grand jury testimony.

The lay teacher at the school where the crimes occurred was later sentenced to four life terms in prison – only because a group of brave survivors came forward to help provide evidence against him.

Cardinal Keeler was Archbishop of Baltimore for 18 years.

Did he protect the innocent and most vulnerable of his flock during the time of his stewardship?

He most certainly did not.

Was he ever held accountable? Absolutely not.

Instead, he was given a funeral fit for a king . . . a lavish spectacle that reportedly included 17 cardinals and 30 bishops from all across America.

Those ceremonies also included numerous politicians.

After the speeches were ended and the high Mass choir stopped singing, he was interred in the crypt below the altar at the downtown Basilica.

His death and his funeral made the front page for days on end.

But now let me tell you about a friend whose life also ended that same week. She was a childhood victim of abuse at a Catholic grade school in Baltimore. I was a close friend of hers, and I watched how her tortured life ended in chaos and agony . . .  decades sooner than the life of the Baltimore cardinal had ended.

The cardinal chose not to protect her.

And there was no pomp and circumstance at her early death. Only sorrow.

The only comfort for those of us who are left to remember her is knowing that her endlessly painful “walk of the survivor” is over. She is finally at peace.

I will continue onward with my journeys.

I will advocate for those who have not yet discovered how to fully strengthen their own voices.

I will listen. I will hold my torch high in the air, hoping to shine light on truth, and on justice.

I am a survivor!

*****

 

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https://insidebaltimore.org/2017/04/10/baltimore-news-media-embarrass-themselves-with-coverage-of-abuse-enablers-funeral-stories-by-tom-nugent-and-linda-tiburzi/

 

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25 responses

  1. Dear Tom and Linda, thank you for shedding light on this story. The amount of anguish expressed is a witness to your compassion towards humanity. The topics covered were tragic. The paradoxical respect of the victim and Keller was a true blow. May the victims family take comfort in knowing that we care for them. Their Mom did not struggle and die without notice. Thank you Linda for sharing this story and Thank you Tom for shouting the truth.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Tom & Linda, thank you so very much for saying what many were thinking! Keller was “the keeper” of deep dark secrets and didn’t care one bit for survivors of crimes against children and teens. I waited for one media person to mention something about the cover up under his watch as the leader of the church. I stopped watching and listening when only lies were spoken. Linda, I am very sorry about your friend. For anyone interested, there will be a one day workshop on self care on May 13th in Westminster Md for survivors. The workshop is free and will include a light lunch. The goal of the day will be to empower attendees with tools to overcome the evil that was taught and done to many of us. For information contact me on FB.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Tom for again finding a means to share the truth and Linda for sharing your truth!
      Keeler stayed silent after it was decided that the Statute of Limitations was to stay intact and our case against Maskell & others was to go no further. A number of my loved ones, severly wounded and confused Catholics at the time, wrote him to ask what he was going to do for the victims of Maskell now that he couldn’t be held responsible/accountable. He never answered any of those letters. Dead or alive I believe he was a coward who enabled and harbored sexual predators. I still hold him and the church accountable! Thanks again…

      Liked by 3 people

    • I’m sure this is the wrong place to ask a question, so my apologies in advance. I’ve been reading articles and wondered:
      1. Was the umbrella from the back seat of the car ever considered a possible weapon ( it was described as broken -so why have it in the car) and possible weapons mentioned were a ball and peen hammer, ring and billyclub. Could ferrule of umbrella cause same type of injury?
      2. The song mention in the opening of the letter was “If Ever I Should Leave You’ but was it actually “If Ever I Could Leave You”– and it was supposed to be playing on the radio while letter being written. Is this just a typo or the wrong song?
      Again, I’m sorry to bother you and for sending questions. I just kept wondering about the umbrella.

      Like

  3. Once again Tom Nugent writes to educate people on the truth! Thank you Tom for your direct words that speak for all those survivors, victims and their families. Linda you have expressed yourself so well when describing your journey dealing with healing. I firmly believe that other survivors out there will find the courage to speak to their families and the world, about what the horrors they have feared for so many years – finally releasing their fear and embracing peace! Thousands of us in Baltimore stand in support of all victims of the AOB.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A huge thank you goes out to Mr.Tom Nugent. Your articles are the REAL journalism. Your support, kindness and compassion for survivors is beyond and above any and all expectations. You have given me the strength to continue on with my journey as a survivor spreading truth and light.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jean Wehner says:
    April 10, 2017 at 1:38 pm
    Thank you Tom for again finding a means to share the truth and Linda for sharing your truth!
    Keeler stayed silent after it was decided that the Statute of Limitations was to stay intact and our case against Maskell & others was to go no further. A number of my loved ones, severely wounded and confused Catholics at the time, wrote him to ask what he was going to do for the victims of Maskell now that he couldn’t be held responsible/accountable. He never answered any of those letters. Dead or alive I believe he was a coward who enabled and harbored sexual predators. I still hold him and the church accountable! Thanks again…

    PS: Don’t mind me! I think I put my response under Teresa’s instead of here. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Tom, We Need to tell the whole story of the necklace. They only showed a little of it. Debbie

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

      Like

  6. After watching this I know I will not be going to church again. I had 12 years of Catholic education, and I’m 58 years old. It’s disgusting, the kind of power the Church has. Bit, slow but sure people are going away and waking up to this lie.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So incredibly moved by the life stories/experiences and this terrible fight as told by Tom Nugent. Living through my own history of abuse, I still blindly thought that the church’s coverups were not as deeply seated as they obviously are. Recently hearing of some similar abuse stories kept silence by the local church community I am in my own trust in the established church and some of my own leaders here are in doubt. thank you for bringing these women’s stories to light for all of us!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I would like to thank Tom for doing such a wonderful job always reporting on the truth and for helping provide the victims of abuse with a voice, thank you to Linda, Jean, and Teresa for being so brave and for sharing your stories and for being a guiding light of bravery for other victims of the Catholic Church to come forward and find some peace. Sending my love to all of you! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Joshua for your support and your kindness. Thank you for speaking out and standing with survivors everywhere.

      Like

  9. Linda,
    In spite of everything you have been through that bastard didn’t take away the strong,beautiful, loving & kind person you are . Beautifully written! Sending lots of love & hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sandy for you and your family’s support through the years. Especially your wonderful dear mother. Love and hugs always.

      Like

  10. Thank you Tom for continuing to spread the truth to the public. And thank you Linda for having enough courage to share your story and to stand up to such ugliness disguised as moral authority. I’m a Catholic living in Las Vegas and I was disgusted but not surprised to find out what was going on in the AOB. I’m so glad there are people like you guys, Teresa, and Jean who are out there telling the truth and showing such bravery. Sending my love and support to all of you 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Abby. I through my speaking hope to give strength to those who have yet to find their voice. To let others know they aren’t alone in their survivor journey.

      Like

  11. My wife and I pray every day for healing for the victims of clergy sexual abuse because we know their pain. We applaud and pray for those who continue to fight for these victims and expose the truth to the world. We also ask those who read this to pray for our family. Those who fight this know that it is still going on in the Catholic Church. Two weeks ago the USCCB met in Indianapolis and had a mass at the Cathedral to pray for the victims of clergy abuse that happened in the “PAST”. It was closed to the public, only invited guests, but was live streamed. No one was going to interrupt the “Dog and Pony Show”. We have watched Spotlight and The Keepers and live out our daily life feeling we are part of the script.
    On July 31, 2014, we reported serious allegations to Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Binzer of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati concerning our former parish priest in relationship with our then sixteen year old daughter. We believed the priest was grooming her for a sexual relationship after she turned eighteen. They failed to remove him as required by the Decree on Child Protection. We made this decision to remove Father Jeff Bacon from our daughter’s life under the guidance of a Catholic psychologist who was helping us with the issues we were facing with our daughter. We have a large family and after we contacted the Archdiocese, Father Bacon caused division in our family by telling our children I was telling lies about him; I had a vendetta against him and asked them to pray for him and write letters to the Archdiocese defending him.
    In January 2015, with Bishop Binzer present, Father Bacon admitted violating a letter Bishop Binzer had given him in August of 2014 telling him to cease all communication with our youngest daughter. When I requested another meeting with Bishop Binzer, he informed me he had been removed from the case and could no longer talk to us. We sent a seven page letter to Archbishop Dennis Schnurr detailing serious violations Father Bacon had performed against the Decree on Child Protection and requesting a meeting with the Archdiocese. On April 17, 2015, Chancellor Father Steve Angi informed us there would be no meeting and used one of the letters from our children, solicited by Father Bacon, to tell us we had problems in our family and take care of our own problems.
    Clergy who have tried to help us have been shut down. When we call the Archdiocesan offices, we are told they are not allowed to speak to us. We contacted the Nuncio, Archbishop Vigano, no response. A priest told us we must get Father Bacon out of our daughter’s life and it was imperative the Archdiocese inform our family of how the actions of Father Bacon were wrong. It never happened. In November of 2015 Father Bacon was finally removed due to serious allegations from a young woman. It was reported as a “Medical Leave”. The priest these allegations were made to, The Dean of the Seminary, was sent to the Nunciature under the request of Archbishop Carlo Vigano.
    In October 2016, Archbishop Schnurr reported to our parish priest that Father Bacon was not allowed to dress as a priest, perform the duties of a priest and would never be assigned as a parish priest again. In March of 2016, Father Bacon was allowed to resign from his parish, a “Personal Decision” the Archdiocese does not have to explain to the public. He is not listed on their website as being on “Administrative Leave” and they have never contacted us after the sexual allegations were made. We know the truth. Our parish priest has told us he does not understand why the
    Archdiocese has not helped our family as they should have done. He stated our family would be in a much better place if they had.
    We no longer have any relationship with our youngest daughter; who was groomed by Father Bacon since she was nine years old. We are blamed for what has happened to this priest. We are trying to rebuild the relationships with all our children, we pray for their pain. We live Spotlight and The Keepers every day, as we know the lies and deceit of the church. It is very difficult as we watch and read about the bishop’s great concern for the abuse victims, as they continue to cover up the present day cases.
    We did laugh as we watched the Keepers, our filing system for the huge amount of documentation we have is boxes from the reams of paper we have purchased, not milk crates. Under the instruction of a priest, we have copied them all and distributed them to safe places. We were told to make a history of this to get to the truth. It hurts so much when you get to the truth and know it did not have to be this way. My wife cries, she says her daughter is dead to her and no one cares. We trusted the church and we were lied to. The full details of this case and the cover up by the Archdiocese, both internally and with the legal system are the sequel to Spotlight. More importantly, we know our children are not healed and this will affect them for the rest of their lives unless dealt with in the light of the truth. Please continue your fight for the innocent ones and continue to pray for all abuse victims, especially our children.

    Dennis and Diane Ramsey

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Tom – I was excited to.see you in the Sister Cathy story in Keepers. Would love to catch up sometime soon.
    Alden Knisbacher
    (UMBC Retriever…)

    Like

  13. I read up on the Dontee Stokes case a few years ago. The impression I came away with was that Keeler was a real heartless snake with the support of the press and city officials. What was done to that young man by church and state was unconscionable. Keeler gets praise for going public with names of abusers; however, I think that was done to preempt any more digging into that story.

    Like

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