Allentown Priest Reaches Plea Deal

The Express-Times [Allentown PA]
November 3, 2006

Appears before Judge. Monsignor reportedly propositioned men.

the tribune-review

A Diocese of Allentown priest accused of asking a man for sexual favors on a western Pennsylvania street waived his right to a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Monsignor Stephen Thomas Forish, 61, of McAdoo, Schuylkill County, a diocesan priest and a psychologist who practiced in Armstrong County, appeared before District Judge James Albert of Greensburg, Pa., on charges of harassment and disorderly conduct.

State police Cpl. Gregory Sullenberger, of the Greensburg barracks, confirmed Thursday that Forish had reached a plea agreement with prosecutors, but he declined to reveal the terms. Sullenberger wouldn't say what Forish allegedly said to merit the charges.

Forish in 1996 was acquitted of charges he offered a man money in exchange for sex on a Bethlehem street corner.

In an affidavit of probable cause in the Greensburg case, Sullenberger said Forish made suggestive statements to a man shortly after 1 a.m. Aug. 8 on a Greensburg street.

"(Forish) used obscene language and asked the victim for sexual favors," the affidavit said. "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."

Authorities found Forish about 20 minutes after the incident, based on a description given by the victim, Sullenberger said.

Police didn't identify the victim or the others referred to in the court papers. The encounter happened in an area that includes the state police barracks and the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg pastoral center.

At the time of the incident, Forish was staying at St. Emma's Monastery and Retreat near Greensburg, church officials said. He worked as a psychologist for Family Psychological Consultants in Kittanning, medical records showed.

A Westmoreland County judge must accept a plea agreement before it can take effect.

Allentown Diocese spokesman Matt Kerr has said Forish is a priest but is no longer involved in active ministry and no longer identifies himself as a clergy member.

After his 1998 acquittal in Northampton County Court, Forish was reassigned within the Allentown Diocese, then became a psychologist, church officials said. He received his doctoral degree from Lehigh University earlier this decade, records showed.

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.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.