Priest Guilty of Improper Relationship
By Matt Gryta
January 19, 2012
A suspended northwestern Pennsylvania priest who studied in East Aurora was convicted Wednesday evening of having an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old boy.
A McKean County Court jury of 10 women and two men handed up their verdict about 6:30 p.m. in Smethport, Pa., following a three-day trial and eight hours of deliberations.
Rev. Samuel Slocum, 60, a Smethport native who studied for the priesthood at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, was acquitted of a felony count of interference with the custody of a child and a misdemeanor count of loitering and prowling at night.
The Catholic Diocese of Erie suspended Slocum from duties at two rural churches after the charges were filed last April, and Bishop Donald Trautman, formerly of Buffalo, issued a public statement saying the charges were "devastating, if true."
Slocum was a priest in the Diocese of Erie for more than 30 years.
As the trial got under way Monday, he was portrayed as either a caring mentor who just tried to bond with boys and be "one of the guys," or as a man who deliberately interfered with the role of the boy's mother in the teen's life.
Defense attorney David Ridge told jurors the case was about whether "Father Slocum should have used better judgment."
McKean County District Attorney Ray Learn, who prosecuted the case, told the jury Slocum's conduct from January to March of last year was criminal.
Slocum was not accused of having a sexual relationship with the boy, who testified Monday that he and his brother and other friends often visited Slocum at the rectory at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Lewis Run, Pa.
The boy's mother testified Monday and said her son lied to her at Slocum's urging.
Slocum faces a possible prison term when he is sentenced next month.