Police: Priest Made Sexual Comments
By Bob Stiles
September 13, 2006
A Roman Catholic priest who was acquitted of committing sexual misconduct in eastern Pennsylvania in the 1990s is accused of making inappropriate sexual comments in Westmoreland County.
Stephen Thomas Forish, 61, of McAdoo, Schuylkill County, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Allentown and a psychologist who practiced in Armstrong County, faces a preliminary hearing in November on harassment and disorderly conduct charges before District Judge James Albert in Greensburg.
State police at Greensburg allege that shortly after 1 a.m. Aug. 8, Forish made sexual comments to people near East Pittsburgh Street in Greensburg.
"(Forish) used obscene language and asked the victim for sexual favors," said the affidavit of probable cause, written by Cpl. Gregory Sullenberger. "(Forish) engaged in a course of conduct that involved the same type of activity with three other subjects shortly before and after the encounter with the victim."
Police did not identify the victims or list their ages or genders in court papers. The involved area of Pittsburgh Street is near the state police barracks and the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg complex.
The harassment charge is graded as a misdemeanor, the disorderly conduct charge as a summary offense on the criminal complaint.
Authorities said they found Forish about 20 minutes after the incident, traveling in his vehicle.
Matt Kerr, spokesman for the Allentown Diocese, said Tuesday that Forish informed church officials about the filing of the charges a few days ago. They were filed last Thursday.
"He's a priest, but he's not involved in active ministry," Kerr said.
Kerr declined to comment on the charges themselves. Forish was reassigned within the Allentown Diocese, then became a psychologist.
Kerr said Forish was working as a psychologist in the Kittanning area but since has returned to his home in Schuylkill County.
Medical insurance records list Forish's business address as 365 Franklin Hill Road, Kittanning, which corresponds with Family Psychological Consultants. The manager of that facility refused to discuss Forish yesterday.
Forish received a doctoral degree from Lehigh University earlier this decade.
Forish's latest state license to work as a psychologist was issued in early 2005 and is due to expire in late 2007, according to records with the State Department's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs. No disciplinary actions were listed against him with that department.
Department spokeswoman Cathy Ennis said the involved licensing board reviews alleged misconduct matters on a case-by-case basis. She said possible penalties for misconduct include a license suspension or revocation, or a fine.
Forish, a former monsignor, was acquitted by a Northampton County jury in 1998 of propositioning a man for sex, according to newspaper reports about the trial. That man, according to the report, was a known drug user.
Bob Stiles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (724) 836-6622.
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