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Attack of the Bishops: What happens when you advocate for sex crime victims in the Catholic Church in Geneva, Illinois

By       Message Kay Ebeling     Permalink
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Attack of the Bishops: What happens when you advocate for sex crime victims in the Catholic Church in Geneva, Illinois

By Kay Ebeling

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One priest ranted in daily Mass sermons against “those who go to the media.” The monsignor visited choir practice and called them sons and daughters of Satan. Their sin? When they found out Father Mark Campobello who taught at their high school was an ephebophile with a predilection for eighth grade girls, they wanted to help the victims. Then the Rockford Diocese refused to cooperate with the local DA and a few church members spoke to the media. St. Peter’s parish responded by attacking the crime victims and anyone brave enough to be a victims’ advocate.

Campobello was released from prison in Illinois last week, after serving four years of an eight year sentence, and he now lives in Crystal Lake where he’s registered as a sex offender, but the damages his crimes caused at St. Peter’s parish are probably permanent.

“There’s people in the pews snapping pictures of us,” Frank Bochte said. A website obviously connected to the parish then prints the stalker photos. You can also listen to voice mail messages Bochte and his wife Kate left with St. Peter's parish priests with one click at the CTL-NYC website, so much for confidentiality. In the forum section at CTL, someone slyly identified a Campobello victim by stating her father’s job title. A “film crew” from CTL points cameras in advocates’ faces -- with press badges at the last SNAP meeting in New York last year. They claim to be making a documentary. . . .

Msgr. Joseph Jarmoluk who runs St. Peter’s says he has nothing to do with CTL. However, before entering the site you see a full screen dramatic profile of his face and the ongoing message “St. Peter’s is an affluent pioneering Midwestern Catholic parish, affected by the clergy abuse crisis.” His face and that message have been up there for more than a year.

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“The people who started that website are connected to Jarmoluk,” said Jeff Anderson, longtime advocate and attorney in Minnesota. “They're trying to work their own agenda whatever it is. It hasn’t been clear.”

In 2002 Catholic high school teacher Barbara Houston sat down and typed a six-page single spaced letter that came to be known as The Dear Ray Letter in both civil and criminal proceedings against pedophile priest Mark Campobello and the Rockford Diocese. In those pages you can read her anguish as one parish member, evolving from blind faith in her church to seeing these bishops as criminals who refuse to cooperate with law enforcement.

From The Dear Ray Letter:

“I have finally decided to specifically write out some very important events of the past years,” reads Mrs. Houston’s letter. “I think it is necessary for you to have more information in order to fully understand the nature of what you believe are attacks on the parish. I most definitely agree that we are under grave attack. However, I am no longer in complete compliance with our pastor. I know that in church history some others had similar experiences and they were not in a league with the devil. Sometimes God works through ordinary people who are just telling the truth.

“Father Joe knows everything that I have written. He has been clear in his approach to our family. No discussion is welcomed concerning this matter.”

It wasn’t his crimes that began the downfall of Father Mark Campobello, it was the lousy way he treated his victims. Another teacher, Alison Ward, told Barbara Houston about The Girl Who Later Became Jane Doe in court proceedings, and what Mark Campobello was doing to her.

From the Dear Ray letter:
“The girl was very upset that he had ‘dropped’ her and seemed to like another girl. She (Ward) had driven the then 15 year old girl to Aurora Central H. S where she was able to confront Father Mark. I was appalled and waited until the end of the day to inform our principal, Mrs. Deborah Bray.

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That was 1999. In 2004 Campobello was sentenced to eight years and now he’s served less than four. He’s maybe 43 years old, probably doesn't even need Viagra yet. . .

At the CTL site they paint Barbara Houston as a criminal school teacher because SHE didn't report Campobello fast enough.

“I was appalled,” she wrote, “and waited until the end of the day to inform our principal, Mrs. Deborah Bray."

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Wordsmith working in TV production in Los Angeles. Also free lance journalist with an active blog. Old enough to have demonstrated against the Vietnam War but still young enough to dance.

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