Category Archives: Child Abuse

Corruption and sexual abuse of children by clergy in the Pittsburgh Diocese


Mike Ference posted a letter today on Facebook to the parents of a child who killed himself due to the corruption of the Pittsburgh Diocese. This man has been tirelessly working to expose the evil behavior of the members of the clergy in Pittsburgh, PA  for 25 years and has reached a dead end every time. He refuses to give up.     

Due to the power and money that the Catholic Church has, the most vulnerable and helpless people in our society are “legally” allowed to be abused; not just by the courts and CPS and APS, but by the Roman Catholic Church clergy. The heartbreaking stories of adults who were raped and sexually abused as children by Catholic priests are in the thousands, possibly higher, yet the RCC still stands, and people still attend services and donate their money. This will never stop until all people raise their voices in protest and stop supporting this institution.       

God Bless you Mike Ference. You will see justice for your son.  

by Mike Ference

October 6, 2016

I do not expect to be called before the grand jury investigating clergy sex abuse and countless cover-ups in the Pittsburgh Diocese. Therefore my next plan is to pass out copies of the following essay I have written at the University of Pittsburgh vs Notre Dame football game, maybe at the bowl game that Pitt may be invited to or some other national event where real journalists might be interested in my investigation.

Read for yourself and judge for yourself:

An Open Letter to William and Kimberly Gaines proud parents of Billy Gaines, a former University of Pittsburgh student and football player who fell to his death due to the corruption of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese.

Sadly, Mr. & Mrs. Gaines I have to be the one to tell you that Billy’s untimely death could have and should have been prevented. For  over 25 years I’ve been trying to expose the dysfunctional and deviant behavior of a former Catholic priest from the Pittsburgh Diocese. His name is Father John Wellinger. Billy was not the only University of Pittsburgh student to be victimized by a Catholic priest, nor the only young man to lose his life because of a Catholic priest from the Pittsburgh Diocese.
I can assure you that I have tried everything imaginable to expose the criminal behavior of Catholic priests in the Pittsburgh Diocese, especially Father John Wellinger. Had I successfully exposed Wellinger, there’s no doubt in my mind, your son, Billy would still be alive.

What’s worse, there were so many others who could easily have exposed Wellinger but deliberately covered-up his crimes; again had any one of these dozens and dozens of people done the right thing, your son Billy would be alive today.

I take no pleasure in writing this letter even though I know it may finally force people to confront the truth. And, I know it won’t bring Billy back, but it might save others. I have a feeling Billy would want to help others. Here’s what I know for sure and why Billy could still be alive today if only those people in charge would have done the right thing. From 1981 to 1985 Father John Wellinger abused a young boy at St. James Parish in Wilkinsburg where Wellinger served as the assistant pastor. The young boy’s name was Jeffrey Wennersten who passed away at the age of 42, leaving a young son. Just weeks before Jeffrey died he shared details of the abuse he suffered at the hands of Pittsburgh Catholic priest Father John Wellinger.

Sometime in early 1987, possibly February or March, Father John Wellinger and a University of Pittsburgh student, Greg Witkowski were sharing beers in an Oakland apartment that Greg rented with his brother, who was also a Pitt student. Greg admitted to me that Wellinger often provided alcohol to Greg and his brother. On this occasion Wellinger also drugged Greg with a substance that knocked him out for hours. When Greg regained consciousness he intuitively called 911. Scared, Greg said he raced down the flights of stairs to meet the EMS crew and ambulance that transported the still dazed student to Presbyterian University Hospital, now known as University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).

For whatever reason, the emergency room doctors refused to treat Greg even though he ingested an unfamiliar substance, administered by a lay person, with malicious intentions and alcohol was part of the mix. This was years before the Boston scandal exploded, so the Catholic Church still maintained its grip on plenty of institutions, it appears that the University of Pittsburgh was one of them and its affiliate, Presbyterian University Hospital. Father Wellinger trailed the ambulance to the emergency room and took Witkowski by surprise. Staying calm, Witkowski asked Wellinger to fetch his nurse. When the nurse arrived, Witkowski explained that Wellinger was the person who had drugged him. No police were called, not even hospital security. Witkowski’s parents Robert and Ann were summoned to the hospital and asked to take their son home. I do not know who or if anyone ever paid the hospital bill.

According to former Clairton Public Safety Director William Scully, he explained to me in 1990 that a hospital worker advised Robert and Ann Witkowski not to press charges and further cautioned the parents that the Catholic Church was too powerful to challenge. Several days later Robert Witkowski would confront Father John Wellinger at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin, PA. Father Wellinger was the parish priest and the Witkowski family were members. At the time Robert Witkowski came banging on the front door of the rectory, a parish council meeting was going on with several eyewitnesses to the event.

I interviewed one of the eyewitnesses who was also Father Wellinger’s secretary. Her name is Marta Placek. According to Placek the council members were concerned that Robert Witkowski was drunk and may have had a gun, so West Mifflin Police were called. No charges or arrests were made. My guess is if any questions were asked by West Mifflin police, they quickly forgot the answers.

Over the years I spoke with Robert Witkowski on several occasions. He never volunteered very much information. He did admit that he received a letter from the legal department of the Pittsburgh Diocese or one of their law firms commanding Robert Witkowski to stay off the property at Holy Spirit Church and to stay away from Father Wellinger. If any of this had been exposed, like it should have been, college students throughout the Pittsburgh area would have been warned about Catholic priests such as Father John Wellinger. Freshman orientation would have been the appropriate time to issue the proper alerts. Sadly, too many people failed to take their jobs seriously. Worse yet, folks in charge succumbed to the wishes of evil men in black robes; most likely because they are scared to death of Catholic Church hierarchy.

Your son Billy wasn’t the only boy victimized by Father John Wellinger. There were many; too many. Here are some of them, all before your son even thought about playing football at the University of Pittsburgh. One boy was Chris Mathews an 11-year-old altar boy who served under Father John Wellinger at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin, PA. The same parish that Greg Witkowski and his family attended. Although I do not know the details of the sexual abuse, I know Chris Mathews very well and his father, as well. His abuse took place in 1989. Also in 1989, a young boy from Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin took his own life. He killed himself with a shotgun blast. Was this young man another victim of Father John Wellinger? I do not know.

As a civilian investigator, I have very few resources to conduct an investigation. Without a badge or even a press pass, most people would shy away from talking to me; all fearful of the Catholic Church.

1989 was not a good year for former altar boys of John Wellinger. Robert Butler served under Father John Wellinger at St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Clairton, PA. Butler also attended the parochial school; it was known as Clairton Central Catholic. Butler and his circle of friends were often invited to the rectory for fun and games with Father Wellinger. The game room had a pool table and pinball machines, I was told. Butler would kill himself with what I believe was a 32-caliber pistol on his way to Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport, PA. One shot to his right temple, he probably died instantly. Before killing himself, Butler tried to murder my son, Adam with a bullet discharged inches away from the back of my son’s skull. Miraculously, my son survived and thrived. It’s the main reason why after 25 years, I’m still fighting to expose Father John Wellinger and all the harm he did to others. There’s no doubt in my mind that Wellinger sexually abused Robert Butler.

I spoke to many people about Wellinger. I would state with absolute certainty that Wellinger’s sexual activity with young boys, young men and older women was common knowledge in every parish where the preying priest served.

The women who worked in the cafeteria and volunteered to watch the children on the playground at Clairton Central Catholic knew to keep their children away from Wellinger. According to Mrs. Ann Weeks, the cafeteria manager at the time, Wellinger liked to parade around the playground covering the younger children faces with his long black rope and smothering their heads into his genitals; separated only by a thin layer of clothing. One of the things I learned through my 25 years investigating the Catholic Church is that Catholic parents don’t give a damn about other children. As long as their children’s heads weren’t being squeezed in Wellinger’s private parts; that’s all that mattered.

Wellinger was at St. Clare of Assisi in Clairton in 1985 and 86 or so. I was told by a Catholic priest that a man with the last name of Volmer went to talk to Father Charles Bober and complained about Father Wellinger’s predatory behavior and nothing was done. Father Bober is a big time operator in the Pittsburgh Diocese raising millions of dollars for the Cardinal Donald Wuerl Catholic High School. He’s got a plum position in a financially well-off parish church in the north hills section of Pittsburgh, possibly a reward for keeping his nose clean and his mouth shut.

Again, if this is true, your son Billy should have and could have been alive today.

Back in 1987 or 1988, Marta Placek, Wellinger’s secretary at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin, PA went to the Pittsburgh Diocese to protest Wellinger’s behavior at Holy Spirit Church. Her complaint included Wellinger providing living arrangements for a young man, possibly from St. James Parish in Wilkinsburg, PA, yet another parish that witnessed at least one young man who suffered as a result of Wellinger’s demons. Instead of Placek’s concerns being taken seriously, she was labeled a gossip hound by Pittsburgh Diocesan spokesman, Father Ron Lengwin. Certainly, by the time Placek lodged her complaints, Wellinger’s dossier was simply too depraved to reveal. One could easily make the argument that Wellinger’s file was so wicked and dreadful, he may have been able to blackmail church hierarchy. In any event, if any of Wellinger’s alleged crimes would have been and should have been reported,  your son, Billy and his friends would have known better than to trust a Catholic priest overly eager to offer alcohol to underage young men.

After all these years something made me reach out to you, William and Kimberly Gaines. I hope it makes a difference. I hope I did the right thing. I know your son, Billy was a good boy and a very tough football player. I tried and tried to expose the truth. I wish I could have done more. I really believe Billy could be alive today.

Maybe, just maybe, it was Billy who spurred me on to write this letter. Maybe someday, we’ll find out.

God Bless you William and Kimberly Gaines and God Bless
Billy.

Warm regards,
Mike Ference

CHILDREN SHOULD NOT HAVE TO TRADE PRIVACY FOR PROTECTION


 

I met a wonderful woman by the name of Margaret Roddin Besen. She is intelligent, honest and the loving mother of two beautiful children who she has not been allowed to see in almost a year. Judge William J. Kent of Suffolk County Supreme Court in Central Islip remanded her son and daughter to the sole custody of their father on January 8, 2013 and gave her supervised visitation only, which has now been terminated. There are no abuse or neglect charges against her at all. There has never been justification for any of this. Her custody attorney Margaret Shaefler of Hauppauge, appointed to Margaret by the court stated in writing that their recommendations “DEFIED LOGIC”.

The children have been crying out for help for years,  yet not one person in power has stepped up to help them. Why not? How can this go on? Her story has left me speechless and in tears. It is one of the worst cases of child abuse and political and judicial corruption I have ever seen.

Will you be one who will stand up to help these children?

Written by Colleen Callan

Sunday, 31 March 2013
This is one of the most difficult stories I may ever have to write. The children involved are about to trade their privacy for protection. It is about the failure of a handful of individuals to protect two small children from the alleged sexual, physical, verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of their politically connected father.

The children in the case are so desperate for help that they have made videos of their allegations, naming the people who both abused their trust and failed to protect them… as was their job. If the children are forced to release this video to social media as they are ready to do, then a ten-year old boy will have to expose his identity and the fact that he has gotten a sexually transmitted disease (according to the child and documented medical evidence) allegedly from improper touching by his own father. The daughter claims to have had improper touching as well and in the video holds up pieces of paper with the names of some of those who hurt and failed to protect them, including their court appointed law guardian.

These are the words on little slips of paper, the young girl holds up one at a time in the video:

Hi!
I’m 13 years old
I love to dance
I have a little brother
He is ten
We need help
We have been hurt
my brother got a bloody nose
We both have gotten our arms (hurt) too
I got a black and blue
and my brother got a
sexually transmitted disease on his butt
I wish Faith Herman CPS worker Lisa Towns
Nancy? Other Cps workers
lots of other CPS workers
& I don’t remember names
Thanks to them my dad
Who was the cause of all this
has full custody
I want to go back to my moms
Who did nothing wrong and
she is safe
my attorney-Joy Jorgenson
she wouldn’t help us at all
she wouldn’t even call my brother in to talk about his
bloody nose and he was in the waiting room
comment below with advice
Thank you!
End of Video

The little girl is planning to release it with her full face showing…and the words on little pieces of colored paper…and the music playing in the background is the song “Concrete Angel” by Martina McBride.

These are the lyrics:
She walks to school with the lunch she packed
Nobody knows what she’s holding back
Wearing the same dress she wore yesterday
She hides the bruises with the linen and lace, oh
The teacher wonders but she doesn’t ask
It’s hard to see the pain behind the mask
Bearing the burden of a secret storm
Sometimes she wishes she was never born
Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can’t rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she’s loved concrete angel
Somebody cries in the middle of the night
The neighbors hear but they turn out the light
A fragile soul caught in the hands of fate
When morning comes it will be too late
Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can’t rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she’s loved concrete angel
A statue stands in a shaded place
An angel girl with an upturned face
A name is written on a polished rock
A broken heart that the world forgot
Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can’t rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she’s loved concrete angel
Songwriter(s): Stephanie Kay Bentley Copyright: Songs Of Polygram Int. Inc., Hopechest Music

In the video, the thirteen year old girl holds up pieces of paper saying she and her ten-year old brother are being abused, that her little brother has a sexually transmitted disease and they need help. She says she has told several people at Child Protective Services (CPS) to no avail. With the music playing in the background it is a heartbreaking image and statement. It is devastating to see.

It is the opinion of this reporter that these children should not have had to resort to even making this video in the first place. Now because no one will help them, they are about to put it out on social media trading their personal privacy for protection. This should not have to happen. So to prevent that, I am going to try to tell their story using just some of the documented evidence the mother has provided to me and somehow walk a fine line to get the children help without actually revealing their identities. When you read this, if you will call those involved and give your opinion, perhaps it would force them to protect the children.

THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR

Because the father in the story is a political figure on Long Island and has had fundraisers for many high level Suffolk County politicos, in August, 2012 the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office asked Judge James Hudson (Riverhead) to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case of alleged abuse of the children by the father/attorney/politician.

Last Thursday March 28, 2013 a copy of a letter was sent by E-Mail to Freelance Investigations containing information that reveals these children are allegedly not being protected. It was a letter from the mother, sent to the Special Prosecutor in the case, requesting his recusal in the case for “his failure to act and protect” her children. The letter was cc’d to Freelance Investigations as well as to several New York State Bar Associations, the Suffolk County District Attorney, The New York State Inspector General’s Office, The New York State Attorney’s General as well as several others.

According to the mother, last Thursday, when speaking at a meeting with the Special Prosecutor, Kevin Keating and Detective Bruce Croce of the Suffolk County Police Special Victim’s Unit (Detective Croce was assigned to the case in July of 2012) the mother said they admitted there was still an ongoing investigation. The mother says she has provided both of them with medical evidence of a sexually transmitted disease her son had gotten last fall. In the document, the child admitted his father had been snuggling naked with him and putting his private parts in his buttocks and groin area. The doctor was the only person in this entire case who did the right thing, according to the mother. The doctor called Child Protective Services as the law demands whenever there is a question of alleged sexual abuse.

The daughter told authorities she took the door off the hinges of the father’s bedroom to stop him from hurting her and her brother, according to the mother. The daughter says she is also a victim of sexual abuse by the father and is willing to tell anyone who will listen what has happened to her and her brother, according to the mother. In the letter, the mother asks why the Special Prosecutor has yet to interview her children in nearly eight months since he was assigned to the case. The daughter has called the Police to report the abuse, since she and her brother have been put by the Judge in the case in the sole custody of the father since January of this year. The mother says at one point CPS admitted there may have been touching of the daughter’s private parts over several years by the father, but they told her they couldn’t prove that he got sexual gratification from the touching, so they hesitated to name him. Since when is the need to prove gratification by the alleged pedophile a requirement?

The mother said the Special Prosecutor told her last week he could probably get an indictment against the father if he presented this case to the Grand Jury, but then the children would have to go through a long protracted trial, lasting years perhaps. according to him. The mother said the children would prefer that to the continued abuse. If they are ready, able and willing to go public now, she said she asked the Special Prosecutor last week, then wouldn’t it be better to tell their story to the Grand Jury, because at least the Grand Jury testimony is sealed and they could protect their identities?

 

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