In order to understand how bad things are we have to look at not only what has happened, but what did not happen.
In 2003 our current situation mirrored what we have today. The Boston Sexual Abuse scandal by Clergy was in the newspapers. The diocese of Altoona-Johnstown was being sued for numerous abuse cases. There was never a more heightend awareness of the problem with the exception of today.
Bishop McCort High School had a history of Child molesters and sexually active priests who were principals, assistant principals, and teachers.
There was no single institution more touched by this scandal or more involved. No institution that should be more aware and prepared.
The Principal of Bishop McCort was Sister Donna Marie Leiden.
In 2003, Deacon John Lemmon, a teacher, was caught in a sexual situation with a female student. From the diocese statements he was suspended.
Lemmon was sent home; however, he departed from Bishop McCort prior to the proper notification of civil authorities. To our knowledge, the mother was also not properly informed because she anticipated and expected her daughter to go to services that night with the deacon.
It is hard to understand how a student caught in a sexual situation with a teacher would be allowed to leave the school without parental supervision and prior to the timely notification of Law Enforcement.
Why were the police not immediately involved and why was the deacon allowed to leave the school?
We can see this answer because now it is now well documented how the diocese has hidden and concealed child sexual abuse.
This particular case ended tragically. Deacon John Lemmon was able to take the girl to Canada. It was reported that the young teenage girl was asked to take her life by Lemmon as he as preparing suicide for himself.
Deacon John Lemmon leaped to his death, but the girl did not.
All of these factual events occurred during the tenure of Sister Donna Marie Leiden as Principal of Bishop McCort Catholic High School where she was responsibile for the moral and social welfare of all students who attended Bishop McCort and the faculty working for the Diocese under her leadership.
Was she removed for what is an obvious neglect of duty and lack of action?
No, she was allowed to remain in service, a faithful employee of the diocese and Bishop Joseph Adamec.
So now let's look at the situation in this new light. How big of a spotlight could be on the school now? National attention for sex scandals, multiple employees mentioned in past abuse cases and now this current situation.
But this is not the end. In the midst of all of this scrutiny and attention what else happened
Brother Stephen Baker had molest over 100 additional children many under the watchful care of Sister Donna Marie Leiden.
The Tribune Democrat readers forum mentioned the situation was well known in school.
The person responsible for the safety and welfare of our children had over 100 children molested many while in her care.
In the secular world this person would never be allowed to supervise children again, but in our diocese this is not the case.
In the diocese of Altoona Johnstown Sister Donna Marie Leiden was promoted to the position of Director of Education in charge of all of *our* children.
I have already commented how people who were part of Bishop Adamec's "Inner circle" have many things in common in their social circles, are compromised and are promoted. Figure it out people !!!! How was Brother Baker able to get away with that level of abuse? We have to ask what might he have known about Sister Donna?
How in God's Holy Church is such a person allowed to not only remain in service, but be in charge of your children?
As reported both High Schools have shown the moral character to ban Sister Donna from their premise.
Hard to imaging someone responsible for protecting our children would have so much abuse happen under her watch but be promoted and very well paid by the diocese. Or is it that hard to image?
What is the state of our Catholic Schools under her leadership?
In Altoona we are down to two grade schools spread over four buildings and they are actively trying to close another one. In Johnstown they are down to one school in two buildings. In the past twenty years the diocese has shut down over 16 grade schools.
During the height of this scandal when everyone should have been aware and on guard let's look at all of this tragedy one thing remains constant. Nowbody but the laity has really paid the price for all of this corruption and crime.
The diocese has effectively kept child molesters from going to jail.
In order to for this to happen think how many people had to know what was going on. We had lawyers involved, insurance companies involved, financial people involved and the list goes on. No one seemed to have the integrity to stop this problem.
We need to find out who participated in the cover-up and demand they be removed from service.