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  Priest Jailed in Sex Crime Dies
Ex-Allentown Diocese Cleric Had Broken Hip, Was in Texas Hospital

Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
November 27, 2002

A former Allentown diocesan priest who was jailed last month in Texas on charges he sexually assaulted a teenage boy died on Monday, authorities said.

The Rev. Edward R. Graff, 73, died in University Medical Center in Lubbock. He had been in the hospital after breaking his hip in a Texas Panhandle jail.

Graff has not been active in the Catholic Diocese of Allentown since 1988, when he was sent to New Mexico for treatment of alcoholism. He had held positions as a parish priest, pastor and high school administrator in the Lehigh Valley.

Graff, arrested Oct. 4 in Briscoe County, Texas, broke his hip in a fall while taking a shower at the Swisher County Jail, not long after his arrest.

Jay Foster, a Texas Ranger investigating the sexual molestation charges against Graff, described the retired priest as "very frail" after the fall.

Graff, who served in the Allentown Diocese for 31 years, was awaiting trial on charges he molested a 15-year-old boy, who worked at a Texas church rectory. According to court papers, the boy told investigators that he watched pornographic movies with Graff "to prepare himself for adult relationships," and that Graff performed oral sex on him. Graff allegedly had a sexual relationship for about a year with the boy he had hired at the rectory.

Nearly 60 videotapes and a Polaroid camera were seized from Graff's home, authorities said.

Graff, who served parishes in the Texas Panhandle, hired mostly Hispanic boys in their early teens to clean the rectory and mow the lawn, Foster said.

"It seems Graff always had things that would attract kids, like video games, Cokes, candy," Foster said.

Foster said most of the boys had seen Graff walk around the house without pants and that some told of the priest baiting them for oral sex with pornographic movies.

While investigating the sexual molestation case involving the teenager, Foster said he had reports of 15 local possible victims. In addition, he said, there were another 12 possible victims in Pennsylvania.

"This is not a man who woke up at 73 years old and decided to abuse children," Foster said. "This is a man who has been doing this all of his life."

Texas prosecutors, however, were told by Lehigh County authorities that the statute of limitations had expired in those other cases.

Graff was ordained in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in May 1955. He came under the auspices of the Diocese of Allentown when it was formed in 1961.

Graff served in seven parishes in Lehigh, Northampton, Berks and Schuylkill counties. He did not return to the area after going to New Mexico and retired from the diocese here in 1992.

Graff retired in July and moved to Quitaque, 70 miles southeast of Amarillo.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the Amarillo Diocese forced Graff to surrender his credentials because of an old allegation of sexual misconduct in Pennsylvania.

Seven Allentown Diocese priests have been dismissed since 2000 on allegations of sexual abuse, and an eighth priest resigned amid allegations in August.

All of the cases date beyond the state's statute of limitations, which gives adults until they are 23 to file abuse charges from their childhood.

 
 

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