NRL News

Voiceless in life, Robert Gensiak’s mourners determined his voice will be heard

by | Nov 26, 2014


Mr. Gensiak weighed 69 pounds when he died at age 32

By Dave Andrusko

RobertGensiakplaqueThe unfortunate truth is that while we run many uplifting, soul-nourishing stories on NRL News Today, the anti-life cancer, which has long since metastasized, continues to claim additional victims beyond 1.1 million unborn babies who lives are taken each year.

We’ve written three times about Robert Gensiak, who died an unspeakably brutal death, starved to the point where his bones showed through by his mother and sisters. His “crime”? To be defenseless. He had Down syndrome.

He weighed 69 pounds at his death; the local newspaper chose not to print photos “as a matter of taste.” Mr. Gensiak’s shriveled remains were cremated.

As the prosecutors made abundantly clear at trial, he was nothing more than a meal ticket to his sisters and mother.

They told the police the day after he died (in response to how his health had so badly deteriorated) they were “concern[ed] that if they placed Mr. Gensiak in a personal care facility, the financial support they received from his Social Security benefits would dry up.” According to Joseph Kohut of the Times-Tribune of Scranton, “Before the end of the interview, investigators said Mr. Gensiak’s mother asked if she would still receive her son’s Social Security check even though he died.”

In June 2013, Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola described Mr. Gensiak’s death as “the worst case of neglect I’ve seen the last 26 years. …This family, the mother and two sisters, basically let this young man rot to death.”

A columnist for the Times Tribune has written several times about Mr. Gensiak, with equal parts eloquence and anger. Chris Kelly is determined that neither Mr. Gensiak himself nor the inhumanity his kin displayed toward him will be forgotten.

Kelly began his column today with a quote from the Old Testament:

“Learn to do right; seek  justice. Defend the oppressed…” — Isaiah 1:17

Yesterday the Arc of Northeast Pennsylvania dedicated a plaque to Mr. Gensiak, a photo of which we’ve included with this post. It reads simply

“Robert Gensiak, 2013, Every voice shall be heard.”

“We felt so bad for Robert,” Arc Executive Director Don Broderick said, Kelly reported. “He didn’t have a voice in life, and we wanted to give him one in death. He suffered tremendously at the hands of his family.”

Kelly writes,

Robert’s plaque is about the size of a shoebox, set in stone. Someone at the ceremony lamented that it looked like a grave marker. I said that was fitting, because Robert doesn’t have one. He never even had an obituary.

His mother, Susan Gensiak, is serving 10 to 20 years. Sister Joan “got five to 10 years for a neglect charge and one to five years for endangering the welfare of a child,” Kelly explained. [Like Robert Gensiak, “Her daughter, Robert’s niece, was also infested with scabies.”]

The youngest sister, Rebekah, testified against her mother and sister. Her sentence was six to 23 months.

Kelly concluded this column, which I strongly suspect it will not be his last about Mr. Gensiak and the cruelty of his family, with this:

We don’t know what Robert liked, what made him happy, what he dreamed about or even what he looked like. The only pictures of him appear to be autopsy photos. All they tell about Robert is how much he suffered.

A small ceremony of remembrance was held Tuesday at the Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania in Scranton. No family attended. None of the small crowd who gathered around Robert’s memorial ever knew him.

All wish they had.

Categories: Crime