Crimes and Accusations
[See the rest of this Times Leader feature.]
At least 25 priests in the Scranton Diocese have been accused of sexual misconduct involving minors since 1950, according to a diocesan report. The diocese has never identified all of the accused, but some of their names have become public because of arrests, lawsuits or their removal from ministerial duties. The Times Leader has been able to identify 11 priests accused of sexual misconduct, including three deceased priests whose cases have never received widespread publicity.
In two of the 11 cases, priests have been removed from active ministry for what the diocese calls "sexual misconduct" or improper conduct," but the ages of their accusers when the conduct occurred have never been revealed.
Typically, priests who have been proven to have abused children are forbidden to say Mass for others or to dress or act as a priest in public. But they remain priests.
Diocesan officials wouldn't comment specifically on any of the priests listed below.
Pleaded guilty to molesting two altar boys at a parish in Pike County. Died in prison in 1994, presumably from AIDS. Caparelli abused four other boys, and maybe more in his 30 years as a priest, according to lawsuits and documents in his diocesan file. The diocese has settled two lawsuits filed by Caparelli's victims for a total of about $225,000. It is defending a third.
Pleaded guilty in 2005 to molesting an altar boy in Duryea and New York City from 1999 through 2004, beginning when the boy was 13. Liberatore, 42, was sentenced to 10 years probation. The diocese is defending itself against a federal lawsuit filed by the victim that claims Bishop James C. Timlin, now bishop emeritus, was aware of abuse allegations against Liberatore in 2000.
Relieved of ministerial duties in 2004 after admitting to sexual misconduct with a minor that occurred more than 20 years ago, according to the diocese, which did not provide further details. Shoback, who is in his mid-60s, could not be reached for comment.
Two men claim Brennan molested them when he was assistant pastor at St. Therese's Church in Kingston Township in the 1960s. One sued the diocese, which successfully moved to have the case dismissed by a Lackawanna County judge. The dismissal has been appealed in state Superior Court. Brennan died in 1974.
A Kingston man says Weniger fondled him at least twice at Sacred Heart Church and School in Luzerne more than 40 years ago. Bishop Emeritus Timlin has acknowledged several allegations were made against Weniger after his death in 1972.
Relieved of ministerial duties in April 2002 after the diocese announced he had admitted to "some improper conduct" that occurred more than 30 years ago. Then-Bishop Timlin said Skotek had come under scrutiny several years before when a different misconduct complaint was made. But he was returned to duty after an evaluation. The ages of those involved in the two cases have never been revealed. Skotek could not be reached for comment.
Impregnated a teenage parishioner at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Towanda in 1988. Brague began having sex with the girl when she was 17 and he was 46, according to his deposition in a lawsuit she filed against him and the diocese. Brague testified that Timlin had received anonymous letters about his relationship with the girl, but the bishop allowed him to stay in his parish after he denied the allegations. Later, when the girl became pregnant, Brague admitted to having sexual relations with her and he was removed from the parish in August 1988. A year later, he joined the diocese of Venice in Florida, where he died in 1997. It's unclear if diocesan officials in Florida were aware of his history. An attorney for the Venice Diocese said he was unaware of any complaints about Brague during his time there. The Scranton Diocese and Brague agreed to settle the Towanda lawsuit in 1995. The terms were not disclosed.
Priests who helped found the Society of St. John, a traditionalist religious community in Shohola Township, Pike County, in 1998. Both were accused of fondling a minor boy. Neither was criminally charged. A civil case filed by the alleged victim against the diocese, the society, Ensey and Urrutigoity was settled for $454,550 in 2005. The society, suppressed in the Scranton Diocese by Bishop Joseph Martino, has moved to Paraguay.
Removed as chaplain and theology instructor at Bishop Hafey High School in Hazle Township after the victim in the Society of St. John case alleged Clay had molested him after a dinner in Monroe County. Clay, 42, was investigated by Monroe County authorities but has never been charged or named as a defendant in a lawsuit. In 2004, diocesan officials in Texas acknowledged Clay had been saying Mass as a visiting priest in an Arlington church for about a year. He was ordered to stop after the diocese was alerted about Clay's background by a victims group. At that time, the Scranton diocese said it was still investigating the allegations against Clay. The diocese did not respond when asked if the investigation is ongoing. Clay's attorney said he is unaware of any change in his status. Clay could not be reached for comment.
Resigned as pastor of St. Therese's Church in Kingston Township in May after two women made allegations of "sexual misconduct." The alleged misconduct occurred before Crynes arrived at St. Therese's 12 years ago, the diocese said. It did not reveal the ages of the women when the misconduct allegedly occurred or any other details. Crynes, 64, could not be reached for comment.
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