|Statement Regarding Case of Father Robert M. Timchak
Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton
October 23, 2009
On Oct. 19, 2009, Father Robert M. Timchak was charged with sexual child abuse for allegedly having child pornography images on his computer. This is a very distressing and unfortunate situation.
Since this news was reported, there have been some questions about the time that elapsed between the initial allegation being made in December 2008 and Father Timchak’s departure as assistant pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, Milford , and St. John Neumann, Lord’s Valley in April 2009. Father Timchak was also a student teacher in the 4th grade at Notre Dame Elementary School in East Stroudsburg from September through November 2007, and then was an occasional substitute teacher there in December 2008. After that time he occasionally celebrated Mass at the school and possibly attended school functions. He was also a substitute teacher in area public elementary schools.
It is important to understand the timeframe for this case and why it proceeded as it did.
On Dec. 9, 2008, the Diocese received information from an anonymous source about possible improper use of a computer by Father Timchak. Subsequently the Diocese contacted the Pike County district attorney. At that time, the Pennsylvania State Police ordered the Diocese to refrain from informing Father Timchak about the anonymous letter or that the DA had been notified of the allegation. The State Police wanted complete freedom to investigate without Father Timchak knowing what was occurring.
On April 4, 2009, Father Timchak’s computers were confiscated by the Pennsylvania State Police. At the time of the confiscation of the computers, the Diocese of Scranton had no knowledge or confirmation that Father Timchak’s computer contained pornographic material. On April 23, 2009, Father Timchak sought medical treatment and the Diocese of Scranton directed him to a facility where appropriate care was given with the knowledge and approval of the Pennsylvania State Police.
If Father Timchak had been accused of sexual abuse against a minor in the form of actual physical contact, and if this allegation was credible, he would have been removed immediately. In this case, there was an anonymous accusation that had to be investigated and verified before any action could be taken. The Diocese cooperated completely with law enforcement in this case from the beginning.
All employees of the Diocese, including priests, must obtain criminal background and child abuse history clearances. Father Timchak had received these clearances. The Diocese had no indication that he had ever engaged in any improper conduct.
Father Timchak was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Scranton on June 27, 1992. His assignments follow:
1992-94: Assistant Pastor, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish, Wilkes-Barre .
1994-96: Director of Religious Formation, Seton Catholic High School , Pittston; in residence at St. John the Evangelist Parish, Pittston.
1996-98: Director of Religious Formation, Bishop Hoban High School , Wilkes-Barre ; and Assistant Pastor, Holy Saviour Parish, Wilkes-Barre .
1998-2000: Assistant Pastor, Annunciation Parish, Williamsport .
2000-06: Pastor, Transfiguration Parish, West Hazleton, and SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Hazleton . Also Chaplain, Bishop Hafey Jr./Sr. High School, Hazleton , 2005-06.
2006-07: Leave of Absence. During this period, he worked in the Luzerne County Probation Office.
2007-April 2009: Assistant Pastor, St. Vincent de Paul, Milford , and St. John Neumann, Lord’s Valley.
September-November 2007: student teacher in the 4th grade at Notre Dame Elementary School in East Stroudsburg .
December 2008: occasional substitute teacher at Notre Dame Elementary. After that time he occasionally celebrated Mass at the school and possibly attended school functions. He was also a substitute teacher in area public elementary schools.
April 2009-present: Leave of Absence.
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