List of Allentown Diocese priests named in grand jury report, by diocese or publicly accused of sexual abuse or other offenses
The Morning Call
August 21, 2018
|Monsignor Francis A. Nave of Sacred Heart parish in Bath was removed from ministry in June 2018 as police investigate a sex abuse allegation from 2011. |
Photo by Douglas Kilpatrick
|Monsignor Bernard Flanagan|
Photo by Ronni Moore
|Monsignor Stephen Forish|
|Rev. Edward R. Graff|
|Monsignor John Mraz, former pastor of St. Ann's in Emmaus|
|Rev. Andrew A. Ulincy|
This list includes priests named in a Pennsylvania grand jury report on sex abuse, or released by the Allentown Diocese, as well as those named in court cases. It incudes summaries of their cases and their status with the diocese.
* The Rev. John S. Baruch retired in 1984 and died in 1995. The diocese says it received allegations against Baruch after his death. The diocese reported the allegations to law enforcement.
The Rev. Thomas Bender, former pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament in Bally, was sentenced to seven years' probation in 1988 for molesting a teenage Pottsville boy in the 1980s. A civil case with the boy and his family was settled by the diocese out of court. Bender was laicised, or defrocked.
* The Rev. Thomas Benestad, former pastor of Notre Dame of Bethlehem and St. Francis of Assisi, Allentown, is retired and lives in Boca Ratan, Fla., where he assists with a local parish. He has denied all accusations made against him. He was not removed from ministry.
Monsignor Lawrence J. Bukaty, former pastor of St. Katharine Drexel in Carbon County, was charged with public lewdness after a park ranger saw him fondling himself on a nude New Jersey beach in 2008. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and received probation. The diocese at the time said he was sent for treatment. He is no longer in ministry.
* The Rev. Robert E. Cofenas was defrocked in 2005 and died in 2013. He is accused of abusing a 16-year-old boy in 1986 while serving as a moderator to a youth group at St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Sinking Spring. A 2004 report indicates the diocese was aware of allegations against Cofenas since 1979 and warned that if the priest was not defrocked, there was a risk that the victim from 1986 would alert the public. Cofenas continued to receive a monthly stipend and health care benefits from the diocese.
* The Rev. David Connell is accused of drugging and abusing a Nativity High School student who was living at the Carmelites. The victim was beaten by other church leaders when he insisted on reporting the abuse to the police. Other students have accused Connell of abuse. Connell is no longer with the Carmelite priests.
* The Rev. Felix Fink died in 1966. He was deceased by the time the diocese received an allegation about his behavior. The diocese says it reported the allegation to law enforcement.
Monsignor Bernard Flanagan was removed from ministry in 2010 when a review board set up by the diocese found credible allegations that he sexually abused a minor in the mid-1980s while serving at Reading Central Catholic High School. The diocese informed police.
* The Rev. Richard J. Ford died in 2005. He was deceased by the time the diocese received an allegation about his behavior. The diocese says it reported the allegation to law enforcement.
Monsignor Stephen Forish, former director of the diocesan Pro-Life Office, was charged with and then acquitted of soliciting boys for sex in Bethlehem in 1996. While facing harassment charges in 2006 for allegedly asking a man in Greensburg for "sexual favors," Forish died in a one-car crash in Carbon County. At the time, he was working as a psychologist after removing himself from active ministry.
The Rev. Francis J. Fromholzer, who served at a number of parishes, including Holy Ghost, Bethlehem, St. Peter's, Coplay, and St. Francis of Assisi, Allentown, was accused in a lawsuit of allegedly kissing and fondling Juliann Bortz of Lower Macungie Township while she was a student and he was a teacher at Allentown Central Catholic High School in 1965. He agreed to be removed from ministry in 2002.
The Rev. James Gaffney was accused by Diana L. Vojtasek in a 2004 lawsuit of repeatedly molesting her in his car and office at Reading Central Catholic High School, where Gaffney was vice principal, beginning in 1990. He was defrocked.
* The Rev. Joseph Galko was ordained and began working in the Allentown Diocese in 1980. As early as 1984, the diocese was aware of inappropriate sexual behavior by Galko, including having sex with an 18-year-old male parishioner. He was sent for treatment after his interactions with adolescent boys at St. Bernard’s in Easton drew concern from other pastors. Galko was placed on administrative leave in 1988 and dismissed from the priesthood in 2010.
* The Rev. Edward George Ganster died in 2014. He was accused in 2002 of sexually abusing and beating a 14-year-old boy at St. Joseph’s in Frackville. Two other people reported Ganster had abused them when they were children. Ganster was defrocked in 1990 at his own request following a desire to marry and work in Walt Disney World. He worked at Walt Disney World for the next 18 years.
* The Rev. Francis T. Gillespie died in 2017. He served at Notre Dame of Bethlehem, St. Jane Frances de Chantel in Easton, Moravian College and the Annunciation of B.V.M. in Catasauqua. In 2002, Gillespie was accused of sexually photographing two adolescent boys at St. Joseph’s in Girardville. Gillespie was removed from the priesthood in 2002.
The Rev. Richard Giuliani, who left the priesthood in 1977, was accused in a lawsuit of allegedly sexually abusing Patricia Beaumont, now of Lancaster County, while she was a student at Notre Dame High School, Bethlehem Township. Beaumont alleges Giuliani visited her in college in 1975, took her out for dinner and asked her to marry him. When she refused, Giuliani never contacted her again, according to a lawsuit.
The Rev. Edward R. Graff, who left the Allentown Diocese in 1988, was jailed in Texas in October 2002 on charges of molesting a teenage boy. State Rep. Mark Rozzi said Graff abused him at Holy Guardian Angels parish in Reading in the 1980s. Graff died at 73 in jail in November 2002.
* A victim reported Carmelite Jim Gross, a basketball coach at St. Patrick’s in Pottsville, had sexually abused him in the 1970s when he was in sixth grade. Gross resigned from teaching at St. Francis School in Minersville, Schuylkill County. His last evaluation states “he had too many familiar relationships with his pupils.”
The Rev. Leo Houseknecht was pastor of Immaculate Conception, Kelayres, Schuylkill County, when he died at 53 in 1990. In a lawsuit, Patricia Beaumont alleges Houseknecht and Monsignor William E. Jones spoke to her using crude/sexual language and Houseknecht inappropriately hugged her while visiting her family in her home.
* The Rev. Joseph D. Hulko, who served at several churches including St. Bernard’s and St. Anthony of Padua in Easton and the Newman Center in Bethlehem, admitted to the diocese in 2003 he had sexually abused a 14-year-old girl in 1971 while a chaplain at St. Francis Orphanage in Orwigsburg. He was sent for “treatment” six different times between 1982 and 2003, when he retired.
* The Rev. Timothy Johnson is retired and living in Florida. He is accused of telling a student not to tell police he had been assaulted by the Rev. David Connell, and of severely beating the student when he insisted on reporting the assault.
Monsignor William E. Jones, a former vicar who served as pastor of St. Patrick's, Pottsville, from 1983 to 2002. In a lawsuit, Scott Greis of Schuylkill County alleges Jones sexually abused him on numerous occasions, beginning in 1978 while Jones was at St. Vincent de Paul, Minersville. On one occasion, according to the lawsuit, Jones and another priest allegedly abused Greis and several other boys on a trip to Jones' home in Tower City, Schuylkill County. In April 2002, he was removed from ministry and has since died.
* The Rev. Joseph H. Kean was removed from the diocese in 2002 and defrocked in 2007. The diocese reported the allegation to law enforcement.
* The Rev. Thomas J. Kerestus died in 2014. He admitted to indecent touching of a boy at St. John Capistrano, Bethlehem, in the 1980s. Two other boys reported Kerestus had sexually abused them. Kerestus retired in 2002.
* The Rev. Bronislaus Kopec died in 1968. He was deceased at the time the allegation was first reported to the diocese. The diocese says it reported the allegation to law enforcement.
* The Rev. Robert J. Kuzmann was removed from the diocese in 2006 and defrocked in 2015. The diocese reported the allegation to law enforcement.
The Rev. Michael S. Lawrence, accused in a lawsuit of allegedly molesting a 12-year-old boy at St. Catharine of Siena, Mount Penn, Berks County, in the early 1980s. He was a member of the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal in February 2002 when he was dismissed by Bishop Edward P. Cullen. At the time, he was chaplain to the nuns at the Carmelite Monastery in Coopersburg. He was removed from ministry before his death.
The Rev. Kevin Lonergan, charged in Lehigh County with indecent assault and corruption of minors in August after allegedly sending nude photos of himself to a 17-year-old girl through SnapChat and grabbing her buttocks. He was removed from his assignment as assistant pastor at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, pending the outcome of the case.
The Rev. Luis A. Bonilla Margarito, who was chaplain at Reading Central Catholic High School and pastor of St. Joseph in Reading, is alleged in a 2010 lawsuit to have seduced a 17-year-old student at the school and impregnated her when she was 18. He was removed from ministry, though the Allentown Diocese appealed the lawsuit because the baby was conceived when the girl was 18. He has been defrocked.
* The Rev. William Maslar was removed from the diocese in 2002. He died in 2005.
* The Rev. Joseph Mathis died in 1981. Mathis was dead at the time the allegation against him was first reported. The diocese reported the allegation to law enforcement.
The Rev. James McHale, who was pastor of Sacred Heart in Bath, ran Catholic Charities and served on the White House Conference on Aging, was accused by Sharon Tell in a 2009 lawsuit of sexually molesting her for 20 years beginning in 1964 when she was 12 and he was assigned to her parish, Notre Dame in Bethlehem. McHale died in 1997.
The Rev. Francis McNelis was accused by Vincent Catizone in a 2005 lawsuit of sexually abusing him for two to three years beginning in 1966 when Catizone was 10 and an altar boy at St. Joseph's in Girardville. McNelis died two months after the court found the allegations exceeded the statute of limitations.
The Rev. James J. Mihalak, former pastor of Mary Queen of Peace, Pottsville, was charged with indecent assault of a 17-year-old boy he picked up hitchhiking in the Tamaqua area in 1997 and put on probation for two years. He is no longer in ministry.
Monsignor John Mraz, former pastor of St. Ann's in Emmaus who also had served as a chaplain at Lehigh University and a theology teacher at Allentown Central Catholic High School, pleaded guilty in 2017 to possessing child pornography and was sentenced to six-to-23 months in jail. He is no longer in ministry.
Monsignor Francis Nave, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Bath, was accused in a lawsuit in 2018 of talking a teen he was counseling online into sex acts. The diocese alerted law enforcement and removed him from active ministry, pending the results of the investigation.
The Rev. Cletus Onyegbule, who served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Bethlehem Township, was accused of grooming a girl for a sexual relationship that began when she was 18. Onyegbule acknowledged having an inappropriate relationship with the woman. He was removed from ministry and criminally investigated, but no charges were filed. He is no longer in ministry.
The Rev. Gabriel Patil, a member of the Barnabite religious order who served at Bethlehem Catholic High School, was accused in two 2004 lawsuits of sexually abusing children in 1978 — a 9-year-old girl and two boys ages 6 and 7. He has no association with the diocese.
* The Rev. Paul G. Puza, who served at Nativity BVM High School, Pottsville, St. Richard’s Church, Barnesville, and Marian High School, Hometown, admitted sexual misconduct with a minor in 2002. He resigned as pastor of St. Richard’s in 2002 and was dismissed from the priesthood in 2010.
* The Rev. Henry Paul died in 1982. He was removed from Sacred Heart Church in New Philadelphia, Schuylkill County, after allegations that he kissed children. Paul was named as one of 12 priests at the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales who had committed sexual abuse. Paul left Sacred Heart in 1979 and was assigned to St. Joachim in Philadelphia.
Monsignor Dennis A. Rigney, one-time director of Catholic Charities and of Catholic Social Agency, was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a 9-year-old girl during a swimming trip at Lake Wynonah, Schuylkill County, in the late 1970s. He retired as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, Allentown, because of health problems. He is no longer in ministry.
The Rev. Joseph A. Rock, former pastor of St. Francis de Sales in Mount Carbon, Schuylkill County, was sued in 1994 by a former altar boy who accused him of molestation over a three-year period. Rock denied the charges. The outcome of the suit hasn’t been released. Rock has since been defrocked.
The Rev. Gerald Royer, accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old altar boy at Ss. Simon and Jude parish in Bethlehem in 1947, when the Lehigh Valley was part of the Philadelphia Archdiocese. He was defrocked in 1965 and died in 2003.
* The Rev. Charles Ruffenach died in 1980. In 2001, an adult victim accused him of physical and sexual abuse beginning in 1945 when the victim was in first grade and Ruffenach was working at St. John the Baptist in Stiles.
The Rev. John Paul Sabas was accused of sexually abusing David Cerulli, an altar boy of St. Francis of Assisi in Allentown, where Sabas was assistant pastor, in 1964. In 1989, Cerulli sued the diocese, settling out of court for $40,000. Sabas died at 71 in 1996.
The Rev. William J. Shields was accused in a 2004 lawsuit of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy in 1972 after a bingo game at St. Ann’s in Lansford. Shields died in 2000.
* The Rev. Stephen Shigo died in 1991. He was ordained and started working for the diocese in 1978. In 2012, a victim told the diocese he was sexually abused by Shigo when he was an altar boy at St. Ambrose Church in Schuylkill Haven.
The Rev. David Soderlund admitted in court documents to sexually abusing a boy in 1980 while serving as pastor of St. Joseph's, Summit Hill. He was removed from ministry, underwent counseling and was told to have no contact with children. In 1986, he became director of pastoral care at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, Pottsville, and was later removed after reportedly having children assist at Mass as altar servers. Soderlund has been defrocked.
* The Rev. Henry E. Strassner died in 2009. A 19-year-old man accused Strassner of kissing him. Two others complained of Strassner abusing children. He retired in June 2003 and was granted the status of “pastor emeritus” of St. Paul’s Church in Allentown.
The Rev. Bruno M. Tucci, former pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Nesquehoning, was removed from active ministry in 2002 amid sex-abuse allegations and defrocked in 2007. In 2013 he was charged in Maryland with sexually assaulting a boy in 1981. The charges were later dropped.
The Rev. Gregory Uhrig was removed from his New Jersey church amid allegations in 2010 that he sexually assaulted a minor 30 years earlier in the Allentown Diocese, where he held many positions, including chaplain at Cedar Crest and Muhlenberg colleges. He denied the allegation. A canonical trial found the allegations were unfounded and Uhrig was reinstated as a priest in good standing in the Metuchen Diocese, where he serves in the Office of Ongoing Faith Formation for adults and ministers to retired priests of the diocese.
The Rev. Andrew A. Ulincy was removed from ministry in 2010 when a review board set up by the diocese found credible allegations that he sexually abused a minor in 1981 while serving at Ss. Simon and Jude in Bethlehem. The diocese informed police. He died in 2016.
The Rev. Ronald Yarrosh was charged in 2004 with embezzling more than $23,000 from St. Ambrose in Schuyllkill County, where he was assistant pastor, and keeping hundreds of child pornography images on a church computer. He was sentenced to four-to-10 years in state prison and defrocked.
* The Rev. Joseph A. Zmijewski was accused in 2004 of abusing a girl at St. Mary’s Greek Church in Reading, where he served as administrator pro tempore from 1961-1964. Upon receiving the victim’s report, the diocese noted that the abuse would have occurred before the formation of the diocese from within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The diocese referred the complaint to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Zmijewski died in 1968.
* The Rev. John Zolondek died in 1962. Zolondek was dead at the time the allegation was first reported to the diocese. The allegation was reported to law enforcement.
* Priests named in the grand jury report and the Allentown Diocese list.