A Monster No Longer Walks Among Us

muppetter holding dark psychology cards

I received a three-word email last night that needed no explanation. It said simply,

“He died yesterday.”

Ernest “Ernie” Matushchka was a former clinical psychologist and former head of the Department of Psychology at Kearney State College, now the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Matushchka’s license to practice clinical psychology was revoked in 1990 after he sexually assaulted and abused numerous female patients over a period of at least 20 years. The college never made any effort to reach out to his victims to offer support, counseling, or even an apology. They just swept it under the rug and moved on, even though some of the assaults happened on campus.

In a September 3, 1990 article, the Kearney Hub quoted the final Joint Stipulation of Facts in Matuschka’s case:

“[Matuschka] engaged in manipulative and destructive behavior with his patients through his use of psychology and threats. His conduct caused or probably will cause the affected patients long-term mental health problems. The evidence shows that he specifically preyed on the weaknesses of his patients. He learned of those weaknesses through his professional relationship with them and used his knowledge of psychology to manipulate and control his victims for his sexual gratification and personal gain.”

Nebraska Assistant Attorney General James Spears, who prosecuted the case, told me after it ended that Matuschka was “the personification of evil.”

Maybe now all of his many victims, including myself, can finally find some peace.

[ https://neptunesociety.com/obituaries/tempe-az/ernest-matuschka-11751939 ]

* * *


I had a habit that developed into a tradition of always voting in person for presidential elections. That means this is the year I will break one of my most beloved traditions. I hope I get the chance to renew it in four years.

I do it because I enjoy watching everyone who’s standing in line with me. It’s usually a diverse group — female and male, young and old, racially and ethnically mixed, students and professionals, privileged and poor. We rarely speak to each other and aren’t likely to hang out together anytime soon. But what we all have in common is the willingness to stand and wait anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours to exercise our right to vote. I’ve always found that reassuring.

So it gave me some comfort to see those long lines of early voters, to see that kind of commitment to voting. And for them to be able to look around and know they weren’t alone. That’s why we’ll win.

~Jassa Skott

There’s going to be one helluva Pride Parade in Heaven tonight.

I was once a politically active member of the Denver women’s community, at a time when the only politically correct choices were to identify as gay or lesbian. The running joke at the time was that bisexuals just needed to “make up their fucking minds.” When I started to realize the word lesbian didn’t truly describe me, I was serving on the Board of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. So I started to feel like a traitor and a liar every time I opened my mouth to speak on behalf of others.

I eventually had to choose between living an authentic life and being part of a community I had come to love. I chose honesty and it cost me several good friends — because lesbian feminists at that time saw being bisexual as a copout and a betrayal. There was also some understandable resentment about bisexual people being more accepted by the straight community and less likely to lose their jobs. But there is no defense for taking that out on people who should have been their allies.

I don’t mean to understate how hard all of this was. It was horrible. I was lost and felt like I had no safe place to turn where I wouldn’t be met by judgment and recrimination. I didn’t fit in anymore with any established group, and that was lonely and disorienting. I didn’t trust therapists, for reasons I won’t go into here, and didn’t seek their help in sorting it all out for many years. When I told my parents I wasn’t heterosexual, my mother took to her bed for a week. She finally apologized to me on her death bed 30 years later.

I gradually came to understand and accept what had happened, and to stop blaming people who were just doing the best they could in the midst of their own fears and oppression. I have been heartened by the growing acceptance of bisexuality in the LGBTQ community and the rejection of internalized oppression, although the old judgments still persist with some members of the old guard. And while I generally find the use of acronyms for groups of people somewhat dehumanizing, I also know how much it means to those who don’t fit into the G&L categories to finally be included in the larger public conversation.

Throughout the years, my support for the LGBTQ cause has never wavered. I have always been a strong and public supporter of LGBTQ rights, even when my estrangement from that community felt like disenfranchisement. I know how much today’s Supreme Court decision means to all of us, tempered only by the steep price so many had to pay to get us here. I will be grateful for the rest of my life for the courage and tenacity of people like Carol Lease, Paul Hunter, and Jerry Gerash. What once was only a dream in their fiercely determined souls has finally come to pass.

P.S. I’m sorry we weren’t able to get this done in time for you to feel safe and loved, Tommy, but you are in our hearts today and every day. There’s going to be one helluva Pride Parade in heaven tonight.

Jassa Skott ~ June 15, 2020

This is the real moral of the loaves and fishes miracle: there was always enough.

The biggest lie we have been told for centuries is that there is not enough to go around. Not enough jobs, enough food, enough land, enough love – and that others want to take what little we have. Feeding our insecurities creates fear, in-fighting, and racial and gender violence. It keeps us fighting each other instead of those who are benefiting from our fear.

I’m not a theist anymore, but I was raised Southern Baptist and am a seminary grad. One of my favorite classes was Biblical exegesis — studying what the text really says as opposed to what others may have told you it says (and means). My view on the loaves and fishes miracle story is that it wasn’t about Jesus creating more food. It was about about him opening people’s minds and changing their shared perception that there wasn’t enough for everyone.

The Bible never says Jesus created more loaves and fishes. “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.”

The disciples are the ones who said there wasn’t enough. Jesus just held the food up to God and then gave it to his followers to distribute. The assumption has always been that he created more food. But it is just as logical there was always enough food. The disciples just couldn’t see it until God opened their eyes.

My World

 I miss my world
 I miss rolling down my window to feel
 the brisk 7:00am air
 as the sun comes up over the mountains
 on my drive to Golden
 the bite of Santiago’s spicy breakfast burritos
 brought as a Friday surprise by a kind co-worker
 the sound of my own voice
 complaining about the bottleneck
 that is Colorado Boulevard
 feeling sanctimonious as I wait every weekend
 in the long line for Sunday brunch
 at The Universal
 planning trips to Amsterdam, Budapest and 
 the plains of Mongolia
 that I’m never going to take
 whining that I can’t find a parking space
 within 15 feet of the Safeway entrance
 cursing at college students as they zip by on skateboards 
 almost knocking me down
 on their way to changing the world
 When we’re us again
 if that ever happens
 and even if we end up being something new
 I hope I hope I hope I am someone
 who knows the value of eyes that see
 who learns before she criticizes
 who remembers to listen instead of just
 impatiently waiting to speak
 who passes money to panhandlers
 instead of cheap judgment
 who never passes a hospital again
 without whispering a prayer for everyone inside
 and most of all
 as Eliot hoped
 who arrives back where she started
 and knows the place for the first time

 by Cynthia Bowling
 March 27, 2020

Favorite Matuschka Update

I have learned that Ernie and Verla Matuschka have been forced to resign from the Board of Directors of the Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat (SCR), due to pressure applied by at least two of his victims. SCR conducts counseling retreats for the clergy and is based in Arizona. It appears Ernie had never told them that he is no longer a licensed psychologist, and that he had lost his license for sexually abusing/assaulting patients (and for billing fraud). It has also been reported that Ernie complained he was being “mistreated” and that he still shows no remorse.

The link below is for a Kearney Hub article that provides more background on the 1990 hearing that resulted in Ernie losing his professional license. It makes clear how much of a monster he truly was and is. If you know of other victims, please encourage them to contact me. They can do so privately at jassaskott@gmail.com, if they do not want to post anything in the comments section of this blog. I am trying to get a clearer picture of just how many women he assaulted in his 20 years at Kearney State College, and afterward. I will not reveal anyone’s name without their explicit permission.

Also, if you know of anyone who filed a formal or informal complaint about Ernie with Kearney State College prior to him losing his license, please let me know.

Link: Matuschka – Kearney Hub 1990

Be safe,

Earthly Nights

I revealed recently that I was raped at 19 by a clinical psychologist and psychology professor, Ernest Matuschka, at what is now the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He was my college professor, my counselor, and my advisor. My best friend knew him and chose to believe I was “exaggerating,” so I didn’t tell anyone else for a long time. Several years later, Matuschka lost his professional license for sexually abusing his patients. The attorney for the women who sued him said he was “the personification of evil.”

I wrote this poem about a year after it happened. Denial is a strong protection mechanism, and it took me a long time to make the connection. I’m publishing it now as a thank you to brave women like Rose McGowan, Asia Argento, Annabella Sciorra, and Darryl Hannah. Please forgive the amateurish efforts of a young poet. I post it here in the hope it may help someone else as they struggle with the life-altering effects of rape. You are not alone.

Earthly Night

Questioning the rites and songs of bedtime
her conscience rustles under silent sheets
and waitingly she dreads the moment bodies meet
the broken blessing few have known sublime

Staring as one who secretly witnesses crime
she follows his hands that take no time to greet
her softly, but prod and pry as they pleat
their way down furrows left to time

She can hear her mother calling over the sound
of sighing springs; calling out that only
hell will harbor what she’s left to earthly night
And as his trembles quickly crumble round
her thighs, she lowers her lids slowly
listening to darkness and watching the lights go out

~ Cynthia Bowling
Denver, CO

Just another reason to love Helen Mirren…

“Any woman now actually is a feminist — they don’t realize it, because they’re living in a world feminism has, to a certain extent, created for them. Which is very exciting, because it’s entitled. That’s what I love about them. They’re entitled.”

~ Helen Mirren

for lydia christine

I wish I had talked to my mother about singing. I mean really talked — what it felt like to get lost in a song; how old she was when she realized the power of her voice; what drew her to gospel and country music; why she needed to express herself that way; what part of herself she lost when she gave it up.

I wish we had talked about the physicality of singing. The way it changes the mind/body conversation. Movement without filter; the fear and exhilaration of going wherever the music takes you. Our fellow Baptists weren’t entirely wrong when they cautioned about “the devil’s music.” It splays you out emotionally in ways you could never have imagined. And the better you get, the harder everything else becomes.

We never talked about any of that. Any attempt at mother-daughter bonding was inevitably thwarted by a never-ending and awkward dance of avoiding family land mines, which always seemed to be moving around. Eventually someone would put their opinions in the wrong place and…kaboom!

But music was neutral ground. All that history and mutual resentment disappeared the moment we sat down together at a piano. I became the adoring daughter again, sitting in the front pew on Christmas Eve, transfixed as she sang “O Holy Night” to the congregation, her voice soaring. A plain looking little five-year-old in a pixie haircut, standing up and yelling to everyone, “That’s my Mama!”

She suddenly started singing again in her late 60s. I wish I had asked her what it felt like to rediscover and reclaim that gift after so many years. What was different; what was the same; how she found her way back. What singing gave her that nothing and no one else ever could. I’d really like to know. Ten years after her death, I still can’t believe I never asked.

Jassa Skott  ~  12/11/16