Profiles: Catholic Whistleblowers
Rev. John P. Bambrick (Jackson, NJ)
Rev. John P. Bambrick is a survivor of clergy sex abuse and a priest of the diocese of Trenton. He was one of two priests to testify at the national bishops' June 2002 meeting in Dallas, Texas. He has been widely involved in advocacy for nearly a quarter of a century. He has served on the Board of Trustees for the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) and The Friends of the Monmouth County Child Advocacy Center. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Child Assault Prevention (NJCAP) and the Advisory Board of the Friends of MCCAC. He is a past NJ State Director and Legislative Director for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
Rev. Patrick Collins, Ph.D. (Douglas MI)
Father Collins was ordained for the Diocese of Peoria in 1964. He was rector of St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria. He holds a Ph.D. from Fordham University in historical theology, a Master of Music in voice and conducting from Bradley University, a Master of Arts in Church History from the St. Paul Seminary, a Bachelor of Music with major in organ and minor in piano from the University of Illinois, and a Bachelor of Arts from St. Paul Seminary.
Father Collins is the author of four books: More Than Meets The Eyeand Bodying Forth: Aesthetic Liturgy both published by Paulist Press;Gustave Weigel: A Pioneer of Reform published by Liturgical Press and a privately published The Wit and Wisdom of Bishop John Baptist Franz. He has authored about 100 articles on theology, liturgy, Vatican II and the spirituality of Thomas Merton. He has also created several CD and DVD presentations as well as several television series.
Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D. (West Orange NJ)
Bob Hoatson’s whistleblowing began in 1976 when, as an Irish Christian Brother, he was teaching at Blessed Sacrament High School in New Rochelle, NY. He noticed that the Principal, Br. Robert Post, was too friendly with some of the boys and felt that those boys were at risk for sexual abuse. He fought for three years to have Br. Post removed from the school and it happened, but Bob Hoatson was transferred as well for blowing the whistle. In 2012, three of Bob Hoatson’s students reported that they had been sexually abused by Br. Robert Post during the years 1976-1979. In 2012, Hoatson was instrumental in having Fr. Robert Post (Post became a priest in Bridgeport after he was removed from Blessed Sacrament High School) removed from his parish in Darien, CT.
In 1981, Br. Robert Hoatson was assigned to teach at Catholic Memorial High School in Boston, MA. He suspected that a high-ranking member of the Archdiocese of Boston, Fr. Frederick Ryan, was abusing athletes at the school where he once served as chaplain. Hoatson reported his suspicions to Catholic Memorial’s Headmaster, who refused to take action. In 2002, two of the students whom Hoatson feared were being abused went public with their horrific stories of sexual abuse by Fr. Ryan.
Bob Hoatson’s third principal act of whistle blowing occurred in the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ, where he served as a priest for nearly fifteen years. A priest, Michael Fugee, a convicted child molester whose conviction was overturned on a technicality, who entered into an agreement with the local Prosecutor never to minister around or with children ever again, had been assigned in 2009 as chaplain to St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark. Hoatson’s disclosure of this “illegal” assignment led to the removal of Fugee from that position. The Archbishop then assigned Fugee to two administrative positions in the Archdiocese, one of which involved the collecting of mission money from children. Hoatson blew the whistle on these assignments as well, leading to Fugee’s resignation from the priesthood in 2013 and calls for the Archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers, to resign.
Rev. Bruce N. Teague (Springfield MA)
Bruce Teague is a clergy abuse survivor, parish priest, former college and university chaplain, former chaplain at a major medical and teaching medical center, and former member of the Latino ministry.
Thomas Patrick Doyle is a native of Wisconsin, born in Sheboygan in 1944 and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin (Madison, Political Science, M.A., 1971). He was ordained a priest in the Dominican Order in 1970. He served in a variety of Church administrative positions including the tribunal of the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Vatican Embassy (nunciature) in Washington D.C. He also served as a chaplain and officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1986 to 2005. He has master's degrees in philosophy, theology, administration, Canon Law and political science and a doctorate in Canon Law. He is also a licensed addictions therapist. He studied addictions and counseling at the University of Oklahoma and graduated from the Naval School of health Sciences in 1999.
Tom has been actively involved in the issue of clergy sexual abuse since 1984. He has provided support and spiritual counseling for victims throughout the U.S., in Canada, the U.K., Ireland and Belgium. He has also served as a canonical counsel and support person for priests and religious accused of sexual abuse. He has served as a consultant and expert witness in civil and criminal trials in the U.S., Canada, Ireland and Australia. He has also been a consultant and expert witness for several U.S Grand Juries, for the four investigative commissions in Ireland, for the Cornwall Inquiry in Canada and in 2010 he addressed the Belgian Parliament at their request.
Tom is the author of several articles on various aspects of sexual abuse and is co-author of Sex, Priests and Secret Codes (2006) along with Richard Sipe and Patrick Wall.
Rev. Msgr. Kenneth E. Lasch, J.C.D. (Pompton Plains NJ)
Father Ken Lasch, JCD, retired priest of the Diocese of Paterson, served for several years as Vice Chancellor, Executive Secretary for Parish Ministry and other diocesan positions before being assigned as a full-time pastor of a parish in north Jersey that became an epicenter for the revelation of a serial predator, the former pastor of the same parish. After the disclosure of the first victim, Father Lasch made a preferential option for victims of sexual abuse by clergy and has been a victims’ advocate for thirty years. He has advocated for victims both local and national, some of whom were widely publicized, most of whom were known only to family and friends. Fr. Lasch continues to advocate for victims.
Rev. Ronald D. Lemmert (Peekskill NY)
Ordained in 1979, Fr. Ronald D. Lemmert is a priest from the Archdiocese of New York. He first blew the whistle in 1987, reporting to the archdiocese an alcoholic priest who drank all night and slept all day. Although the priest was transferred, the archdiocese never forced him to address his problem. He continued drinking for many more years, alienating everyone around him. That experience was a forewarning of the difficulties Lemmert would experience in reporting child molestation.
In 1988, when Lemmert joined Holy Name parish in Croton-on-Hudson NY he noticed that the pastor, Rev. Gennaro “Jerry” Gentile, was like the Pied Piper around teenage boys. Gentile hired the boys to help out around the rectory and entrusted them with handling the weekly collections. They were always in Gentile’s room and frequently accompanied him to his summer home for overnight stays. He took them on extended vacations to places like Disney World and even to Italy.
Remembering how ineptly the situation with the alcoholic priest had been handled, Lemmert realized that in order to report Gentile's misconduct, he must have proof. (This was in the 1990s, well before the whole crisis had been exposed, and no guidelines had yet been established.) In 1995-1996, Lemmert sent three anonymous letters to archdiocesan officials about what appeared at the time to be highly inappropriate behavior, begging them to intervene. Nothing was done.
In 1996, two families came forward to report Gentile’s sexual abuse of their sons. Lemmert backed up their claims by reminding the officials of his earlier suspicions, warning them that “the number of teenage boys involved is staggering.” The archdiocese did nothing to discipline Gentile, who then wrote a letter to Lemmert, who had recently been assigned as Catholic Chaplain at nearby Sing Sing Prison, that his weekend services in the parish were no longer needed. When families requested Lemmert’s services for baptisms, weddings and funerals, Gentile denied their requests.
In September 1997, the archdiocese’s vice-chancellor, Msgr. Edward O’Donnell, came to the parish and addressed all five Masses, defending Gentile and attacking a family that had filed suit against the archdiocese because of Gentile’s abuse of their sons. Lemmert leaked information to the news media that vindicated the victims and led to public exposure of Gentile. Still, nothing was done; Gentile stayed in ministry until 2002, after the scandal broke in Boston. Only then was he suspended and finally laicized by Pope Benedict in 2005. Still a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, Lemmert today serves as Catholic Chaplain at Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, New York.