Pope Kicks out Local Priest

By Susan Evans
May 5, 2004

HOLLIDAYSBURG - A priest in Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese, who served in various parishes in Cambria and Somerset counties and is identified in court documents as a pedophile, has been dismissed from the priesthood.

Joseph F. Gaborek Jr., whose name surfaced in the 1994 sex-abuse trial of defrocked priest Francis Luddy, has been suspended for the past 16 years. He was dismissed from the priesthood by Pope John Paul II, effective Feb. 27, said an announcement in the May 3 edition of The Catholic Register, a diocesan publication. Gaborek, who court documents say was accused by state police of fondling boys in Somerset County in 1984, is the second diocese priest to be dropped from the rolls in less than two months.

In March, Dennis E. Coleman, who also had been suspended for 16 years and was identified in court documents as a pedophile, requested and was granted a release from the church.

The exits from the priesthood coincide with unprecedented settlement talks in connection with 13 pending sex-abuse lawsuits, and the disclosure that the diocese has spent $3.26 million on child sex cases involving 27 priests and 37 victims.

Gaborek's name, along with other priests, surfaced in testimony and court documents introduced in the Luddy trial by attorneys trying to establish a pattern within the diocese of covering up sex abuse complaints. Much of the information was discussed behind closed doors during the trial, but is part of public record. While assigned to St. Michael's and St. Mary's churches in West Salisbury in 1984, Gaborek was accused of fondling boys. State police reported it to then-Bishop James Hogan. Charges were not filed, on the condition that Gaborek seek professional help, court records show. Gaborek was permanently suspended after Hogan retired in 1987.


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