Matt C. Abbott
October 20, 2008
African-American clergy abuse survivor tells his story
By Matt C. Abbott

"I am a survivor of clergy sexual abuse," writes Richard C. Gee.

In July of this year, Mr. Gee gave a statement to the review board of the Newark, N.J., Catholic archdiocese, alleging that he was abused by "Father X," a priest of said archdiocese.

(For prudential reasons, I'm not revealing the name of the accused priest, who is deceased, or the locations at which Mr. Gee claims to have been abused. When asked by me for comment on the matter, James Goodness, director of communications for the archdiocese, said in an e-mail: "Because the matter is before the review board now, I cannot provide any comment.")

Father Robert Hoatson, advocate for Mr. Gee, says that Father X was a priest "in good standing" with the archdiocese up to the time of his death.

Writes Mr. Gee:

"My problem is that it has been almost impossible to get any reporter interested in anything that resembles bringing my story to the attention of the public. This ambivalence forced me to look closely at the reporting concerning clergy sexual abuse, in an effort to evaluate my situation and see if there was something I was doing wrong that was preventing some form of media scrutiny.

"I discovered that I do not fit the stereotypical mold of the survivors the media has flocked to and swooned over. Most survivors the media has reported on have been the exact opposite of me. I began to realize then that there was a certain type of story that most had in common: normal childhood up until the illegal contact, the product of blue, grey, or white collared parents who worked hard to provide for the care and upbringing of their families; very wholesome and idyllic in a way that makes the tragedy involve the whole family and even their community.

"Generally, the survivors were also white. It became apparent to me that the majority of the reported stories were of this type as though this [type of abuse] does not occur in the black community; as if the Church is not in the 'hood.'

"I can expound to no end why I think this is so, but this is not a race card play; it is an attempt to remove what I think is a superb hiding place for pedophiles of this nature and caliber; it is an attempt to save some child from future, or, God forbid, further abuse; and it is an attempt save my own life and sanity.

"I am restless with the thought of bringing my entire story to public light. I am becoming more comfortable with my life and the experiences to which I have been subjected. I think my story is a good example of what really happens in cases where the child is left completely unguarded in the hands of pedophiles. The trauma is deep and long-lasting.

"I hope that someone will have the nerve to pick up on my story and tell it with the hope that some other survivor can find the empowerment to seek help."

The following is Mr. Gee's (edited) account of what took place:

    'My name is Richard Carlisle Gee II. I was born June 13, 1965. I was 15 at the time the following events began. My parents divorced when I was about five. I was raised primarily by my mother, JoAnn Gabrielle Davis-Gee.

    'My mother was (she passed away in 1994) an alcoholic lesbian. She was abusive physically, emotionally, and verbally. In 1981, she arbitrarily evicted me. I was without money or clothing. I turned to the parents of my childhood best friend for assistance. They contacted my mother who refused to recant. The [redacted] decided that Father X would be a source of abundant help. They explained to me that he would have the resources and experience to help in a situation such as mine. This was considered a much better option than handing me over to the Division of Youth and Family Services.

    'The reasoning was that I would be placed, at least temporarily, in the Youth House of which everyone in Newark, New Jersey had heard horror stories. I come from a solid middle-class background and they (and I) knew I was unprepared socially for the Youth House. I was not tough enough for the types of 'thugs' Newark had in those days. I never fought in school... Anyway, the idea of getting help from a priest seemed infinitely more appealing. Without ceremony I was trundled off to Father X. I don't know how the arrangements were made. I was taken to and dropped off at [redacted] in Newark by Mr. and Mrs. [redacted].

    'Father X was charismatic and personable, yet he was arrogant. Within minutes of the [redacted] departure, Father X had me feeling confident that I could endure and overcome my predicament. Simultaneous to my 'upliftment' he explained that he had to go out of town and that I would have fend for myself for a week or so in the [redacted]. He explained [redacted] as a dream manifested for the needy; that it was a place for use by anyone and for any situation. Shortly after my arrival Father X put his suitcase in the trunk, me in the passenger seat and took me to [redacted] in Newark.

    '[Redacted], as the residents called it, was a defunct bank. The upstairs still contained the teller's counter and deposit/withdrawal slip tables. Father X explained that it was just opened and that his plans included this floor being used as a hive of bustling activity filled with desks and ringing telephones all geared toward helping anyone and dealing with all community needs. He then introduced me to two young men. One I only knew as 'New York'; the other was named Kareem. It was explained that I would be sharing living space with these young men since they were closest in age to me. They were both about 20-years-old. Both were recently released from prison. We all then proceeded downstairs to the living areas.

    'Personal living areas were separated by sheets and/or blankets hung from suspended rope, wire and extension cords. Our area contained three mattresses and assorted milk crates used for storage and surface tops. My mattress was a queen of full that was directly on the floor. The light source was a single bulb un-shaded lamp with a low-watt bulb. Our area was what remained of the vault. All doors, shelves, etc. were removed. The walls were exposed concrete; the floor as well. It was dark, nearly impossible to tell it was still late afternoon outside, and outside noise was undetectable. There were no doors or locked areas beyond the main entrance. Father X gave me a key to the main entrance as all the 'residents' had. The one bathroom in the building had a single toilet, urinal and plastic one-head shower stall. The bathroom door did have the simple push button privacy lock common to most home bathroom doors. The living area was a warren of hanging sheets, blankets and darkness.

    'After showing me the area and making introductions Father X bid me to go outside with him. Near his car he gave me 40 or 50 dollars and explained that meals were not provided and that I might need some personal items. He instructed me to spend maturely that he would be gone for a week or two. He got into his car and left, leaving me outside with 'New York' and Kareem. At fifteen I was a key holding 'resident' of [redacted] a homeless shelter/halfway house. There were 20 to 30 residents men and women staying at [redacted] at the time and their ages ranged from about 20 to 65 years of age.

    'The area around [redacted] was one of poverty, drug sales and drug addictions. Stolen cars being chased by the police was common, as was the sound of gunfire. It was urban inner city ghetto at its height at the onset of the 1980s. It was in direct contrast to the quality of life to which I was accustomed.

    'It is impossible for me to describe everything. I have suggested to Father Robert Hoatson that he wrangle a tour of [redacted]. It's my belief that the visuals will enable the proper perspective throughout my narrative. I know my story is quite a bit to chew but this is a picture you must see clearly in order to paint the picture yourself.

    'After Father X left, the three of us New York, Kareem, and I chipped-in on beer and sandwiches. At 15, straight from my mother's, I was no alcoholic or drug addict. But as a high-school student out of Newark, I was no stranger to the 'sneaked' beer or joint every now and then. We took our things and went back downstairs. We talked, drank beer and toked on a joint or two. Kareem decided to go to his mother's house and left. This left New York and I in our area.

    'Now during this period of my life I was maybe 5'6" of 5'7," weighing about 150 pounds. 'New York' was about 6'1" or 6'2" and weighed about 200 pounds. He was just released from prison and was in excellent shape.

    'At some point I began to make up my bedding after putting up my small amount of personal items. I began to relax. 'New York' and I were just making general conversation. All of a sudden WHAM! he punched me, hard. I fell, almost knocked out, holding my right ear and head where I got punched. He then started trying to kick and stomp me in my head. I balled up covering my head up as best I could. I'm screaming and hollering at the top of my lungs. He just began to kick and stomp me in my ribs. He was screaming and hollering at me all the while. I remember trying to ask him to stop and why he was doing this. I remember calling for help. I was trying to do everything at the same time. It's impossible to express. I don't know what happened; I think I got knocked out, everything went from me getting beat up to my being on my stomach with my jeans and underwear off. He [sexually assaulted] me. I screamed and hollered for help and for him to stop. He didn't and no one came. I never threw a punch. When he was finished he took 40 dollars or so from me. All the money I had.

    'New York' let me go clean myself up. I went upstairs when I was done, and, with no coat on, went outside to the phone booth and called my mother. She answered and, crying hysterically, I told her about the 10-minute-old rape. She never said a word. I begged her to let me come home. She calmly said no and hung up. I never got the chance to tell her where I was. When I hung the phone up I don't know what I was feeling or thinking right at that moment 'New York' was coming. He asked who I was just talking to. I don't even think I answered him. He told me to come on. I did. Back downstairs he said some really, really rough stuff to me. Things like how I was like a [redacted] and not made for that type of environment and how I was his now and he would take care of me. I don't think I responded at all.

    'During the next week or so (Kareem was still away) 'New York' would bully and beat me up until I shoplifted food and/or alcohol. He stayed close to me during that time, never leaving me alone. The other 'residents' in the [redacted] did not associate with us.

    '(I have a time problem here. I can't be sure if what I am about to tell you occurred after the first groping/fondling by Father X or if it occurred two months later. I am so sorry. So much was going on in my life then.)

    'At least a week after the first attack, 'New York' beat me up again. He pinned me to the ground by sitting on my chest with his knees holding my arms down. He tried to [sexually assault me]. I tried to fight back and throw him off of me. I cried for help like the last time. He started to slap and hit me in the head and face. All the time he was talking. Everything happened so fast and I don't exactly like to recall these memories. Anyway, I just went limp. He [sexually assaulted] me again.

    'Father X came back and I was a little worse for wear. This was after the first or second 'New York' event. It was evident I had been beaten up. Father X took me for a ride in his car, 'to talk.' I had a steak dinner and a beer. He brought them. I remember it clearly because it was the first time an adult had ever bought me a beer like I was a peer or something. He asked about my bruises and swellings and I told him that I had a fight with 'New York' and that he was nasty and acted like a [redacted] sometimes. I just couldn't bring myself to tell him what happened to me. It was only the second time in my life that I had seen the man. I told him that 'New York' had stolen my money and that I didn't like or trust him.

    'Father X told me that I needed to realize my situation. He told me that he could take me to the youth house if I thought I could handle that better than the [redacted]. I said that I didn't want that. The stories I had heard of the youth house were worse than anything I had been through yet. He told me to toughen up because [redacted] was an inner city ministry. He chastised me to be more careful of my money. He gave me 20 dollars and let me out in front of [redacted]. Kareem came back in time to see Father X.

    'Kareem asked about my bruises when he saw me. I told him I had a fight. I realized a short time later that Kareem and 'New York' didn't like each other. I bonded to Kareem. 'New York' left me alone more or less. One day 'New York' just didn't come back.

    'I would really like to speak to someone about this period of time in my life. I know everything didn't happen back to back to back. But in my memories, that's how it plays out. The only way I'm able to sort some time gaps is because I know other things happened: Father X going out of town, Kareem going to his mother's, participating in my first real crimes. Other major events happened, but when it comes to recalling many bad things at [redacted], those things run together. It's hard to explain.

    'Father X came to my sleeping area within a short time after 'New York' left. It was late. The basement was pitch-black. A hanging blanket separated Kareem's bed from my own. I was awakened when Father X got into bed with me. I was scared. Father X was undressed (I think he had under shorts on) and he said something like, 'It's just me, Rick. I'm tired and can't drive home.' He scooted up in the bed behind me. He did not touch me immediately. I think I even dozed. At some point he pressed up against me, rubbing my arm. I told him to stop and tried to push him away and get out of the bed. He grabbed me firmly and tightly and told me very sternly to stop. He asked me something like, 'Where are you going to go? I am not trying to hurt you. I've got your best interest at heart and there ain't a soul in the world that would believe I would put you in any position not good for you.'

    'All of this was done in a whisper, a stern one. Like a parent hissing at an errant child. I don't know why if it had anything to do with 'New York' but I just gave up. I thought about my girlfriend. I thought about school. I counted sheep. He fondled my genitals, sometimes painfully.... He drew little circles on my back with his finger and kissed my back and neck. He tried several times to get me to turn around. I resisted that so he took what I didn't resist.

    'I found 20 dollars on the floor in the morning. Kareem asked if Father X was there the previous night. I told him that he was drunk (he did smell of alcohol) and couldn't drive home. I don't think he believed me.

    'Father X came to [redacted] at night to the bed I slept in many more times over the next 18 months or so. I protested and tried to resist and/or dissuade him. He has come in the day time and in a heaving rage ordered Kareem and whoever else was visiting our area out, under the guise of chastising me about drinking, smoking and seeing girls. Father X ...always stopped at fondling, kissing and licking my chest and back.

    Other Father X events occurred at [redacted] Church in the sacristy, in the rectory, at a rooming house he operated on [redacted], at another rooming house he operated in the same general area, and in his car. The abuse went on until I physically made him stop. He never touched me again. I think he feared me after that. I thought he feared me physically; after all, I was going on 18 and had a growth spurt in a war zone. But I realized later on that he was afraid I would expose him. I took advantage of that a few times over the years.

    'My high school sweetheart, [redacted], and two of her sisters came and visited me during some early weeks there. I never told her all that I had suffered; only that I had been fighting. This is where time blurs for me. They visited me several times there and, noting how bad the living conditions were, explained my situation to their mother. [Redacted] met with me and invited me to stay in the basement apartment with her oldest son, who was 19. It was around June. Of course, Othelia and I began to experiment sexually. She got pregnant and her mother, in disappointment at us both, asked me to leave. With no where else to go I returned to [redacted].

    'With my return to [redacted] came the continuation of Father X's visits. I was still 16 at the time. I guess it was about September. 'New York' was also back. He bullied me into my first major crime. A robbery of an old man named Mr. Jesse. I was arrested for it. Father X came to the hearing and told the judge that he was my legal guardian. I was released to his custody. I never made it out of segregation at the youth house. Father X, to my eyes, had proven he was powerful. I just knew I was going to Yardville or Bordentown.

    'My life was out of my control during this period. I hadn't been back to school. My days and nights were spent doing hard drugs and drinking. Everyday. The 'residents' were the typical Newark homeless. Heroin addicts. Cocaine addicts. Pill heads. There was no food or clothes and shoes at [redacted]. However, there were always drugs. Older women would get me high for sex or a hot meal. Men would give me drugs to have sex in front of them with a woman. Thank God I never decided to 'shoot' any dope.

    'During this same period, when I was 16 or 17, a man named Mu Min came to live in [redacted]. I often took pills and snorted heroin with him. One night when I was really high he beat me up and raped me. I didn't put up much of a fight. I resisted, but I knew that it would be better if I didn't get the entire crap beat out of me as well. I had no real spirit at the time. I fought him later when I made up my mind I wasn't afraid anymore. I got a dislocated shoulder during that fight. Mu Min was one of those guys who paroled out to [redacted] or came there straight from the joint. Father X made him 'resident director' of [redacted]. He was in this position when he hurt me.

    'I joined the New Jersey National Guard and left New Jersey in November 1983. Father X would touch me a lot over the years. 'New York' and Mu Min sexually assaulted me. I learned to do drugs and became a drug addict there. I never went to school there. I learned criminal behavior to get money for drug use.

    'A lot of those same issues persist in my life to this day.'

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at

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