Testimony Corroborated, Contradicted in Priest's Trial
By Peter Smith
November 8, 2019
In the second day of the trial of a Catholic priest charged with sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy in 2001, some witness testimony Thursday corroborated the previous day’s account of the accuser, and some conflicted with it.
A friend of the accuser confirmed that the latter confided in him about the abuse on two highly emotionally occasions years before he ever went to the police.
But two lay leaders at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish in Munhall, who helped organize the summer program where the alleged assault took place, contradicted his testimony on who was doing what and where. They said the priest didn’t show up for the program and said the church basement area would have been filled at lunchtime with children and supervisors, not an isolated area where an assault could take place undetected.
Father Hugh Lang, 88, a former superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, is on trial at Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on eight counts related to the alleged assault at St. Therese, where he had been pastor in 2001. He has pleaded not guilty and, like the previous day, was supported by numerous former parishioners and others attending on his behalf.
Testimony is expected to wrap up Friday with Father Lang taking the stand in his own defense. Judge Mark Tranquilli, who is presiding at the bench trial, would then decide on a verdict.
The accuser, now 30 and living abroad, testified Wednesday that when he was 11, he made a derogatory joke about Father Lang during a summer training program for altar servers at St. Therese.
He testified that later that day, a visibly flushed Father Lang took him to a room in the church basement, ostensibly for discipline. Instead, he alleged the priest forced him to strip, took a photo of him, fondled his body, used the boy’s hand to masturbate himself, ejaculated on the boy’s body. He testified the priest later reminded him he had the photo and warned him never to tell anyone what happened.