|Pa. Priest Charged with Inappropriate Teen Contact
April 5, 2011
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie has suspended a priest who is expected to surrender Friday to face criminal charges that he had inappropriate contact with a 15-year-old boy.
The Rev. Samuel Slocum, 59, was relieved of his duties at two churches in McKean County. Erie Bishop Donald Trautman said the charges were "devastating, if true."
State police charged Slocum on April 1 with corruption of minors, interference with the custody of children, concealing the whereabouts of a child, and other crimes for allegedly giving the boy expensive gifts, as well as an iPhone and a laptop computer so the teen could stay in touch with the priest, although police say the boy's mother told Slocum she didn't want him to have contact with her son.
Police have not charged Slocum with having sexual contact with the boy, although the boy's mother gave police printouts of computer messages her son exchanged with the priest that suggest flirtatious behavior, according to the nine-page criminal complaint.
"I always knew there was something special about you, but I never knew what it was. Majic," the priest wrote, misspelling "magic." "I'm really trying not to say bad stuff, but you're pushing it."
The boy told police he had seen Slocum in his boxer shorts, and confirmed the priest gave him gifts. Other messages indicated the priest would sneak by to give the boy gifts, including $10 to buy a movie DVD.
"I can't tell you how hard this is for me cause I really want to see you," the priest wrote. "If she is sleeping I will put it by your door now and you can get it."
Slocum is also charged with loitering and prowling at night for sneaking over to leave a gift for the boy.
He told police he had photographed the boy and other juveniles and acknowledged his relationships with them was inappropriate, police said. Three other boys told police the priest gave the first boy expensive gifts for no apparent reason.
Slocum could not be reached for comment. His defense attorney, David Ridge of Erie, did not immediately return a call.
The charges stem from incidents between Jan. 1 and March 29 in Lewis Run, where Slocum had served as a priest at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Catholic Church. He also served at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Bradford. Both churches are about 130 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Bishop Trautman issued a statement after suspending Slocum on Monday.
"While the charges filed against him at this point are most serious, it is my understanding there is no criminal allegation of inappropriate sexual activity. Nevertheless, I view the conduct described in the criminal complaint as devastating, if true," the bishop said.
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