Westmoreland County Priest Arrested, Charged with Sexually Assaulting 10-year-old Boy in 1990s
July 24, 2017
A retired priest who has served at various parishes throughout the Greensburg Catholic Diocese in Westmoreland County was arrested on child sex assault charges Monday.
The Rev. John Sweeney, 74, is accused of forcing a 10-year-old boy to perform a sex act on him while the child was a student at Saint Margaret Mary in Lower Burrell during the 1991-92 school year, according to a criminal complaint.
The alleged assault happened in a conference room next to Sweeney's office after the fourth-grader was sent to Sweeney for discipline because he had been disruptive on a school bus, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
"After Sweeney finished sexually assaulting the 10-year-old boy, Sweeney's parish secretary brought the boy milk and cookies," Shapiro said.
The alleged victim now serves in the U.S. Coast Guard. Shapiro commended him for coming forward with his allegation.
"This courageous young man found his voice, and brought that voice before the grand jury. Now our job is to follow through," Shapiro said.
Citing the ongoing investigation, the diocese declined to comment on Sweeney's arrest.
In addition to Lower Burrell, Sweeney's parish assignments between 1970 and 2008 included Holy Family in Latrobe, Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg, Saint Hedwig in Smock, Saint Mary in Freeport, Saint James in Apollo and Holy Family in West Newton.
His arrest is part of "a broader investigation into sexual abuse by priests," said Shapiro, who asked the public for more help to identify alleged abusers and their victims.