January 27, 2005

Manatee assistant principal suspended amid abuse charges

Herald Tribune

EAST MANATEE — An assistant principal at Haile Middle School was suspended Wednesday amid allegations he sexually abused boys in the late 1960s.

Joseph A. Gilpin, 60, was placed on paid leave by Superintendent Roger Dearing after Dearing received an e-mail from an advocacy group that claims Gilpin molested at least two boys in Massachusetts and Maine from 1965-1970.

Gilpin has worked for the school district here for 30 years.

Dearing said Gilpin will be suspended while a private investigator looks into the allegations. He said he didn’t know how long that would take.

Dearing said he had no proof Gilpin abused anyone but wanted to “proceed with caution.” He said he wasn’t even sure if Gilpin is the man connected to the alleged abuse.

“When children’s safety is involved and someone alleges something that involves moral turpitude, we’re going to take the most conservative approach,” Dearing said.

Attempts to reach Gilpin by phone were unsuccessful Wednesday. At his East Manatee home, family members who answered the door conferred with Gilpin and said he did not want to comment. A metal cross on the door frame quotes Scripture: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” ...

The group that contacted the district, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said Gilpin settled a lawsuit in 2004 filed by one of the victims.

The lawsuit claimed Gilpin abused the boy from 1965-68 when the boy was 9 to 12 years old at a Catholic camp in Massachusetts and at the boy’s home in Wareham, Mass., the group said. A SNAP spokesman said Gilpin was studying to be a priest during that time.

A court official from Suffolk County, Mass. confirmed Wednesday that a lawsuit against “Father Joseph Gilpin” was settled in February 2004. It was not immediately clear if Father Joseph Gilpin is the same Joseph Gilpin who now lives in Manatee County.

Posted by kshaw at January 27, 2005 07:12 AM