locally owned since 1854

AG's office releases Catholic child sex abuse report; more ties shown to Middletown, Steelton

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 8/14/18

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office released Tuesday its report from a two-year grand jury investigation into child sexual abuse at six Catholic dioceses in the state, including …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

AG's office releases Catholic child sex abuse report; more ties shown to Middletown, Steelton

Posted

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office released Tuesday its report from a two-year grand jury investigation into child sexual abuse at six Catholic dioceses in the state, including Harrisburg.

A total of 301 offenders were identified in the report.

In Harrisburg, the grand jury identified 45 offenders.

The report comes on the heels of a similar list of 72 clergy members and seminarians who had been accused of sexually abusing a child since the 1940s released by the Diocese of Harrisburg.

The diocese, who released the list earlier this month, later identified where each of the accused priests served. Some of those listed priests overlap with the report released by the grand jury.

The diocese’s list identified eight priests who served at churches in Middletown and Steelton. Five of the identified priests are also on the grand jury’s list.

Of the priests on the diocese’s list, Father Frederick Bradel served at Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Middletown from 1964-1966. According to the diocese’s report, Bradel was accused of inappropriate behavior, but not until after his death.

Father Salvatore Zangari is not on the diocese’s list as having served at Seven Sorrows, but according to Seven Sorrows’ “About Our Parish” page on its website, Zangari served as an assistant at the parish from June to September 1951. According to the diocese’s list, Zangari also served at St. Ann church in Steelton. The diocese’s report states that there are multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children against Zangari.

Father Jerry Kucan served at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Steelton from 1961-1972 and again from 1979-1982. According to the diocese’s report, Kucan was not the subject of abuse allegations while he served in the Harrisburg diocese, but he was on the list of accused priests in the Diocese of Erie.

According to the diocese, Father John Allen served at St. Ann church in Steelton from 1978-1980. The diocese’s report states that there are multiple allegations of child sexual abuse against Allen.

Father Thomas Ronald Haney served in two Steelton parishes — St. Ann’s from 1981-1985 and St. James’ from 1966-1967. According to the diocese’s report, while he was alive, Haney was accused of inappropriate touching and comments toward a child, and following his death, he was accused of sexual abuse.

Father John Bolen served at St. James’ parish in Steelton from 1926-1927. According to the diocese, he was accused of sexually abusing a child after his death.

Father William Haviland served at St. John the Evangelist parish in Steelton from 1990-1991 and St. Peter the Apostle in Steelton from 1991-1995. According to the diocese, when Haviland was alive, he was accused of sexually abusing a child and a second allegation was made following his death.

Father Augustine Giella served at St. John the Evangelist parish in Steelton from 1980-1988. The diocese’s report states that there are multiple allegations of sexual abuse against Giella.

Allen, Giella, Haney, Kucan and Zangari are also on the list of offenders identified by the grand jury.

In the Diocese of Allentown, they identified 37 offenders. In the Diocese of Erie, 41 offenders. In the Diocese of Greensburg, 20 offenders. In the Diocese of Pittsburgh, 99 offenders. In the Diocese of Scranton, 59 offenders were identified.

The other two remaining diocese in the state — Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown — were the subject of prior grand juries, the report states.

The report states that over 1,000 child victims were identified from church records.

“We believe that the real number — of children whose records were lost, or who were afraid ever to come forward — is in the thousands,” the report states.

The grand jury offered four recommendations — eliminate the criminal statute of limitation for sexually abusing children, create a civil window to allow older victims to sue for damages, clarify penalties for continuing to fail to report child abuse, and specify that confidentiality agreements do not cover communication with police.

“Adopt and support each of these recommended reforms to Pennsylvania law — now,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a press release. “Stand up today and announce your support for these common-sense reforms. That’s the test that will determine whether things have really changed or if it will just be business as usual when the dust settles.”

According to a press release from Shapiro’s office, the grand jury found:

• Detailed accounts of more than 1,000 children victimized sexually by predator priests, with the grand jury noting it believed the real number of victims was in the “thousands.”

• Senior church officials, including bishops, monsignors and others, knew about the abuse committed by priests, but routinely covered it up to avoid scandal, criminal charges against priests, and monetary damages to the dioceses.

• Priests committed acts of sexual abuse upon children, and were routinely shuttled to other parishes — while parishioners were left unaware of sexual predators in their midst.

The 884-page grand jury report documents scores of sexual assaults and rapes of children by priests, according to Shapiro’s office, and the institutional cover ups that followed by senior church officials, including:

• In the Diocese of Erie, (41 predator priests named), one priest, Father Chester Gawronski, fondled boys and told them he was giving them a “cancer check.” Gawronski provided the diocese with a list of 41 “possible” victims. He confessed to multiple instances of sexual abuse. Yet from 1987 until 2002 – 15 years – Gawronski remained in active ministry, repeatedly reassigned to new parishes.

• In the Diocese of Allentown (37 predator priests named), one priest, Father Michael Lawrence rubbed a 12-year-old boy’s genitals so roughly the boy felt pain. “Please help me, I sexually molested a boy,” Lawrence admitted to a church official, who noted the confession in a confidential memo. Even after that admission, the diocese ruled: “the experience will not necessarily be a horrendous trauma” for the victim. Lawrence was left in ministry for years by three different bishops.

• In the Diocese of Greensburg (20 predator priests named), one priest, Father Raymond Lukac, impregnated a 17-year-old, forged another pastor’s signature on a marriage certificate, then divorced the girl shortly after she gave birth. Despite that, Lukac remained in ministry while the diocese sought a “benevolent bishop” in another state to take the predator, hiding him from justice.

• In the Diocese of Harrisburg (45 predator priests named), one priest, Father Joe Pease, sexually assaulted a boy repeatedly when the victim was between 13 and 15. Pease admitted to diocese officials to once finding the victim naked upstairs in the rectory – but called it “horse play”. In a secret memo, the diocese noted: “At this point we are at an impasse—allegations and no admission” before cycling Pease through church-run treatment and allowing him back in active ministry for seven more years.

• In the Diocese of Pittsburgh (99 predator priests named), a group of at least four predator priests groomed and abused young boys. They used whips, violence and sadism in sexually assaulting their young victims. One boy, not yet 18, was forced to stand on a bed in a rectory, strip naked, and pose as Christ on the Cross for the priests. They took photos of their victim, adding them to a collection of child pornography which they produced and shared on church grounds.

• In the Diocese of Scranton (59 predator priests named), one priest, Thomas Skotek, raped a young girl, got her pregnant, and arranged an abortion. The bishop, James Timlin, expressed his feelings in a letter: “This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief.” The bishop’s letter was not sent to the girl. It was addressed to the rapist.