Fayette Priest Charged with Sexually Assaulting Altar Boy
By Alyssa Choiniere
August 27, 2020
A Fayette County priest was charged with sexually assaulting an altar boy multiple times when the boy was between the ages of 11 and 14.
The Rev. Andrew Kawecki, 65, turned himself in to agents from the office of the attorney general at Fayette County Magisterial District Judge Daniel C. Shimshock’s Masontown office Wednesday, according to Attorney General Josh Shapiro. The alleged abuse of the boy, who is now in his 20s, began in 2004, Shapiro said.
The alleged “forced sexual encounters” occurred in the back room of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Fairchance, where Kawecki prepared for services before Mass, Shapiro said. Kawecki would often ask for the boy specifically when he was conducting Masses, and would allegedly assault him before or after Mass when the boy was dropped off early by his parents. The alleged abuse continued until the boy’s family left the church in 2007, Shapiro said.
Kawecki was removed from his post in May 2019, when an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was reported to the diocese.
He most recently served as a trust adviser at Conn-Area Catholic School in Connellsville, and pastor at St. John the Baptist in Scottdale and St. Joseph in Everson. He has served in 15 parishes in the Greensburg Diocese since his ordination in May 1980.
“With the release of our grand jury report on abuse two years ago, I promised we would hold anyone who was abusing children accountable, no matter how powerful the institution behind them,” Shapiro said. “Survivors experience a lifetime of anguish and trauma trying to overcome the impact of abuse, especially when it is committed by the hands of their own parish priest. No coverup is too long, no institution too powerful to stop us from doing our job. We will not let predators get away with the sexual assault of children.”
Kawecki was arraigned on charges of involuntary deviate sexual assault of a person less than 16, indecent assault of a person less than 16, indecent assault of a person less than 13 and corruption of minors, court documents indicate. Shimshock set bail at $50,000 unsecured, meaning he did not have to post bail as a condition of release.
Court documents indicate he hired attorney Jeremy Davis to represent him.
Kawecki was removed from his post in May 2019, when the alleged victim applied to the Survivor’s Compensation Fund.
In a statement, the diocese indicated it was the only allegation ever received against Kawecki, and noted he denies the allegation.
If the allegation is found to be credible and substantiated, Kawecki’s name will be added to the diocese’s list of clergy with substantiated allegations against them. “Credible and substantiated” means that the allegation was proven to be supported by either an admission by the individual to the abuse, a preponderance of the evidence, or through a comprehensive canonical, civil or criminal investigation, the statement indicated.
Shapiro asked that anyone with relevant information about Kawecki contact the attorney general’s office using the Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-888-538-8541.
“Anyone struggling to come forward, know that my office is listening, we are here, and we won’t be afraid to take on tough fights to do what’s right,” Shapiro said.
After being ordained in 1980, Kawecki served in the following assignments:
May 1980 – associate pastor, Immaculate Conception, Irwin; May 1981 – associate pastor, St. John Baptist, Perryopolis; August 1983 – associate pastor, St. Mary of Czestochowa, New Kensington; June 1990 – parochial vicar, St. Sebastian, Belle Vernon; July 1990 – chaplain, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Belle Vernon; July 1990 – chaplain, Knights of Columbus, Belle Vernon; June 1992 – reverend, St. James, Maxwell; June 1992 – reverend, St. Julian, Isabella; June 1995 – pastor, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Leckrone; June 2002 – pastor, Church of the Resurrection, Clymer; July 2004 – pastor, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Fairchance; July 2007 – administrator, St. Hubert, Point Marion; June 2013 – pastor, St. John the Baptist, Scottdale; June 2013 – administrator, St. Joseph, Everson and May 2016 – trust adviser, Conn-Area Catholic School, Connellsville.