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EBENSBURG, Pa. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A victim of clerical sex abuse and whistleblower in Pennsylvania's massive homosexual cover-up has been found dead.
Brian Gergely, 46, was found Friday hanged in his home in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, according to Cambria County coroner Jeffrey Less in a statement Tuesday. Gergely's suicide comes on the heels of the March exposé of a systematic scandal involving Altoona-Johnstown diocesan hierarchy and local government authorities protecting dozens of known homosexual priests guilty of child abuse, an effort spearheaded by Gergely, among others.
"Tragically, the demons he's been dealing with since he was molested finally won out," the deceased's lawyer, Richard Serbin, stated.
Following the 2003 filing of a lawsuit alleging years of molestation at the hands of Fr. Francis McCaa, Gergely, who purposely chose to identify himself as opposed to using a pseudonym, became the public face of abuse victims in the Altoona-Johnstown area.
"It takes a great deal of courage to step forward, and even more courage to go public and give your identity instead of a pseudonym. Brian overcame that because he felt so strongly about the sexual abuse of children," Serbin remarked.
Described in the March state grand jury report as a "monster," McCaa, who died in 2007, is believed to have molested "hundreds" of victims; according to testimonies he would make altar boys "take their pants off under their cassocks" to allow for discreet molestation and presented himself as a "formidable figure" in order to discourage the abused from speaking up.
"I was standing in the sacristy and he pinned me to the desk. I was just a little guy," Gergely recalled in an interview earlier this year. "My parents were patrons. They were going door to door raising money for the church. The community put Msgr. McCaa on a pedestal."
The abuse was so recurring, "it almost became normal among the fraternity of altar boys," he maintained.
A documented meeting between then-Bp. James Hogan of the Altoona-Johnstown diocese and a local judge, who had been aware of the abuses, took place in November of 1985, with both parties agreeing to remove McCaa from his parish and, following time spent in psychiatric counseling, place him back in the diocese rotation. He went on to work in various parishes and schools, accompanied by "glowing" recommendations from Bp. Hogan, until retiring from ministry in 1993.
As a result of the continual abuse, Gergely underwent years of therapy to manage the resulting anxiety and PTSD, as he related even the sound of church bells was enough to send him into a depression. However, in a March interview, he claimed to be "at peace" and stated he had forgiven McCaa for his crimes.
The diocese of Altoona-Johnstown issued a statement Tuesday regarding Gergely's death,
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Brian Gergely. May the Lord grant him eternal rest, and may He provide comfort to Mr. Gergely’s family and friends. Support is always available to survivors of sexual abuse. We urge anyone who was abused to notify authorities and to seek help through a state or county victim assistance agency.
Gergely's funeral was held Wednesday at Holy Name Catholic Church in Ebensburg, the same parish where the deceased had been molested decades before.
“Certainly Brian was a just man,” remarked Holy Name's pastor, Fr. David Lockard, during the funeral. “He is now in the hands of God.”