Harrisburg Man Awarded in Priest Sex Abuse Case
Charges Back Allegations against Priest Named in RICO Suit
Concerned Catholics Courier
A 44-year-old Harrisburg man has received a settlement in a lawsuit alleging that a priest in the Harrisburg diocese, Fr. John G. Allen, sexually abused him repeatedly when he was a teenager in the 1970s.
The resignation of Fr. Allen as pastor of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in suburban Harrisburg, following a credible allegation of sexual misconduct, received wide news coverage at the time it occurred, in April, 2002.
But the subsequent lawsuit filed by William J. Hill against the Diocese of Harrisburg, Cardinal William Keeler and Bishop Nicholas Datillo, and the resulting settlement in 2004 were not reported by the media.
In June, however, Mr. Hill revealed information to Concerned Catholics Courier regarding the lawsuit and settlement.
Mr. Hill's allegations against Father Allen, which the Diocese of Harrisburg found credible, support allegations made in a federal lawsuit filed by former seminarian Philip Hower charging priestly sexual misconduct and subsequent cover-ups by various bishops, including Cardinal Keeler.
Mr. Hower's suit, filed August 4, 2004, in U.S. District Court in Arizona, alleges, under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a conspiracy to block his ordination to the priesthood by a number of dioceses and their bishops, because he was a whistleblower who reported the homosexual misconduct of various priests.
The suit alleges that the defendant bishops and dioceses deprived Hower of a livelihood and defrauded him, as they did other members of the Roman Catholic Church, by using their contributions to obstruct justice, perpetrate additional fraud, and maintain and support a criminal enterprise.
The lawsuit claims that Mr. Hower's troubles began when he was a seminarian in the Diocese of Harrisburg.
Hower had received his Bachelor's degree from the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, and was studying for his Master of Theology degree there when, as part of his pre-ordination training, he was assigned to St. Pius X parish in Selinsgrove, Pa., to work as a summer intern under the supervision of the pastor, Fr. John G. Allen.
During his internship, the suit claims, Hower was ordered by Allen to vacate the rectory on a regular basis.
Mr. Hower learned from parishioners and from the permanent deacon of the parish, John Rocco, that Allen engaged in inappropriate behavior with the young men from the local university, located across the street from the rectory, during those times when he was barred from the rectory, the suit states.
Hower complained to then-Bishop of the Harrisburg Diocese and now Cardinal of the Baltimore Archdiocese, William Keeler, through appropriate channels, that Allen was committing various sexually related acts and possible criminal acts within the rectory, the suit continued.
Keeler responded to Mr. Hower's concerns in a manner that has come to typify the responses of the Defendants herein to the receipt of reports that they and their friends and associates have been seen and observed in engaging in sexual debauchery, the suit charges; that is, Keeler contacted the Josephinum and ordered that Mr. Hower be dropped from the educational career path for priests and directed that Plaintiff leave the Diocese of Harrisburg so that he could contemplate his commitment to God and to the Church.
In essence, Plaintiff Philip A. Hower was fired from his job and banished.
The suit charges that The Roman Catholic Church in North America has become a haven for sexually perverted men who seek and obtain employment in it as priests and other officials, so as to be provided with a steady supply of potential targets for their sexually depraved and abusive conduct while earning an income of some substance with minimum effort.
The allegations in William Hill's lawsuit, which he filed in May 2002, corroborate Hower's portrait of Father Allen as an habitual homosexual predator of adolescent boys and young men.
According to Hill's suit, in 1971, at the age of 10, William was placed in the Sylvan Heights Catholic Home in Dauphin County, Pa., an orphanage owned and maintained by the Diocese of Harrisburg.
That same year young William was allegedly sexually fondled by a female house parent from the orphanage while on a bus tour.
Subsequently, the suit states, house parents and other adults forced the boy to participate in a sťance, in which they attempted to contact his recently deceased grandfather.
From time to time, according to the suit, other female residents older than William would force him into having sexual relations.
The boy was released from the orphanage to his parents when he was 14 years old.
At age 15, the suit states, Hill met Fr. John Allen, a Catholic priest in the Harrisburg Diocese.
At that first encounter Father Allen allegedly told Hill that he was employed by the Harrisburg Diocese and that his job was to help children free themselves from drugs and alcohol.
Father Allen then seduced the youth, the suit states, beginning with hugging and kissing and gradually escalating to mutual masturbation and penetration.
Hill allegedly was sexually abused by Father Allen on numerous occasions in the rectory of St. Patrick's Cathedral, on St. Patrick's School grounds, the rectory of St. Francis of Assisi Church, in Father Allen's vehicle, and in other locations.
Diocesan Defendants knew of the sexual abuse of minors by a number of Diocesan priests, including Fr. John Allen, Fr. Augustine Giella, Fr. Thomas Lawler, Fr. James Noel, Fr. Joseph M. Pease and others, the suit states, and that such abusive behavior was a longstanding problem within the Diocese.
But, the suit charges, the primary concern of the Diocesan Defendants has been the protection of its priests, including Fr. John Allen and others like him.
To this end, the defendants concealed the danger that predator priests presented by misrepresenting them as priests in good standing, enabling their continued unrestricted access to minors, transferring the priests to other parishes, and failing to report their misconduct to authorities, the suit alleges.
The defendants employed a closed, secret system of internal reporting of sexual misconduct by their servants, including the use of code words, the suit charges.
Information as to the known criminal conduct of Diocese priests was kept secret and confidential in secret archive files within the exclusive control of Keeler, Datillo and their predecessors, the suit states.
The active involvement of Keeler, Datillo and others acting on behalf of the Diocese in creating a safe and protected environment for known predator priests, including Father Allen, was not discovered by the Plaintiff until various stories began appearing in the media in early 2002, the suit states.
Mr. Hill's suit was settled out of court on May 5, 2004. He received $150,000 in damages.
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