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


Earthly Nights — 15 Comments

  1. I was sexually abused by him, too. I recently sat down and wrote my story – nearly a half decade after it all happened. I did not know he had lost his license for this.

    • I am sorry to hear this happened to you. Ernie lost his license in 1992 for having sex with clients and for billing/tax fraud. Here is the California record, under Psychologists: He is retired and living in Arizona now. His wife, Verla, chose to stay with him.

      I heard about it shortly after he lost his license and contacted the attorney for the women who sued him. He said Ernie took the stand and admitted what he had done, and had no remorse. His malpractice insurer settled immediately thereafter. I was finally able to share my story as part of the #MeToo movement on Twitter after reading Annabella Sciorra’s brave recounting of how Harvey Weinstein raped and continually harassed her. It has been very good for me, and I hope the same happens for you. I wish I had been able to do it many years ago, but it took a long time for me to face the reality of what had happened and its long term impact on my life.

      I worked for MediaNews Group for six years and left in 2012. If you are ever in the Denver area and would like to get together over coffee, I would be happy to do that. But I would certainly understand if you would prefer not to do so. I hope writing your story has given you some peace. We both deserved better.

      • I too was raped by him. I have the pages of the hearing from Neb. I got my memories 10 yrs later, just after getting on disability. at that time I was afraid my children would be hurt or I would be killed. He regressed women, so he was a pedophile. He threatened women. He was my abnormal psych prof for nursing. I went to his office 11 times, and was probably raped every time. He was raping women for >25 yrs, I believe. Nebraska had received a letter that they did not follow up on. Thank Yahveh for the women and therapists who reported him.I am in Denver. R.O.

        • Yes, he’s a very sick man. I’m so sorry to hear this happened to you. You are the second woman who has written to me with this type of personal story. I hope you were able to get some help and support along the way. It can make all the difference.

        • I e-mailed this to you. please at least put the story from the Kearney Hub on your web site or as a separate Web site. I will contact SCR mentioned below. He and Verla were going to Holy Cross Lutheran. I and my children also. A woman at the church said they withdrew membership though. Now, I don’t recommend any church that baptizes babies though.

          • Matuschka wanted us nursing students to attend a seminar on sexuality in Colorado springs but our instructors wouldn’t release us to do so. I believe this was an annual seminar. One woman who brought charges against Matuschka said she had gone to it. Knowing Matuschka, this was probably a terrible seminar to attend.

          • Thank you for forwarding the articles. I plan to post a general update soon and will also post the Kearney Hub article. Let me know if SCR responds to you.

  2. I am stunned at coming across this. I had just left the convent when I encountered Ernie as my psyc professor. He took advantage of my innocence as you can all imagine. Buried in the past, away here in Massachusetts, I thought I was the only one. Why is this creep not in jail. Isn’t he writing some kind of self-published book and is affiliated with the Lutheran Church? I think his father was a minister. I am 71 and do not consider myself a victim but it is chilling to know such people are drifting through respectable society. Beria must be a dopey or has no means of independent support. Well glad to add my voice to all of yours. Jean Schmidt

    • Jean,
      I am sorry to hear this happened to you, and hope you have had support dealing with it over the years. Thank you for speaking out. I now know of 10 women he assaulted — six who came forward around 1992 and got his psychology license revoked, the three who have responded to this blog (so far), and me. Considering how long he was at Kearney State (20 yrs), there must have been dozens.

      Ernie has been living a comfortable life with Verla in Arizona, working with the Shepherd Canyon Retreat and serving on their Board. He apparently had not told them that he was no longer licensed, and why. (The irony is that SCR specializes in counseling members of the clergy.) I contacted them about Ernie’s history a few years ago, and they did nothing. Another woman contacted them recently and was able to get them to remove him from their Board. They apologized for how long it took, but we still don’t trust them.

      To my knowledge, he never went to jail. Statutes of limitation were notoriously low for rape around that time (and still are today), and I’m not even sure being assaulted by a person in a position of trust was categorized as rape yet, legally. Officially, he lost his license for “having sex with patients” and billing fraud.

      I’ll post something here if more information becomes known. Take care of yourself.

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