Nw Pa. Priest Gets Probation for Teen Relationship
February 28, 2012
SMETHPORT, Pa. (AP) — A suspended Catholic priest will spend two years on probation — and his bishop already has said the priest's felony conviction will keep him out of active ministry — for his inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old northwestern Pennsylvania boy.
The Rev. Samuel Slocum, 60, was sentenced Monday in McKean County, where he was convicted last month of concealment of the whereabouts of a child, The Bradford Era reported Tuesday.
"What he's done, he's taught my son to lie, to sneak out, to disobey me," the boy's mother told the judge, adding that her son no longer believes in God.
Prosecutors say Slocum continued to contact the boy for three months early last year and urged him to lie about their relationship to his mother even after she told the priest to stop seeing the boy. Slocum was not charged with sex crimes, though prosecutors argued some of his messages to the boy — sent on computers and a smartphone the priest gave him — were suggestive and flirtatious.
The priest testified at trial that he didn't befriend the boy and other teens because he was attracted to them, but because he was lonely. The teens often hung out the rectory at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Lewis Run, where they played pool, watched a big-screen TV and played computer games.
"My good judgment was clouded by living alone and by the perceived indifference of my superiors," Slocum said. "I was selfish. In my desire for companionship, my flock was left unguarded."
Slocum also defended the boy's mother, who brought the matter to authorities, in front of his supporters, many of whom wrote letters to the judge seeking leniency.
"I do not want anyone loyal to me to think anything less of (her) than the good mother that she is. I was not acting as a responsible adult," Slocum said, before apologizing to the woman. "I am very sorry for everything I did to make your role as a single mother more difficult."
Bishop Donald Trautman, who heads the Erie diocese, said after Slocum's conviction last month that the priest won't return to active ministry.
Judge William Morgan also ordered the priest to have a mental health evaluation, have no contact with the boy or his family, and to have no contact with children under 18 while on probation. The judge also told Slocum to find a job.
"Even though you've learned a lesson, you can't put it to use in your old job," Morgan said. "You've pretty much messed that up."