Ex-priest says a priest abused him as a teen in Erie


March 20, 2018

By Ed Palattella

James Faluszczak, now of Buffalo, said he testified about the abuse before a grand jury investigating the Catholic Diocese of Erie.

A former northwestern Pennsylvania priest has provided a glimpse into a Pennsylvania grand jury’s investigation of the Catholic Diocese of Erie.

James Faluszczak, who resigned from the active priesthood in the Erie diocese in 2014, said he testified before the grand jury about how a priest in Erie sexually abused him when he was a teenager in the 1980s.

Faluszczak, 48, now of Buffalo, is believed to be one of many witnesses who have testified before the grand jury, whose proceedings are secret and which convened at the request of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office around September 2016.

But he is one of the few witnesses who have publicly commented on their grand jury testimony, which the law allows a witness to disclose. His comments also show how state investigators gathered witnesses for the probe, which the attorney general’s office is leading.

Faluszczak said the attorney general’s office contacted him after he called, in the spring of 2016, a hotline that the office set up in March 2016 for victims of clergy sex abuse.

He said on Monday that he testified before the grand jury in October 2016. He told the Erie Times-News about his testimony a day after he told the Buffalo News that, when he was 16 to 19 years old, he was “molested by my priest in Erie.”

Faluszczak has not publicly named the Erie priest. He said he wanted to wait on releasing that information until after the grand jury releases its report.

“I want to see how the grand jury deals with the material I presented them,” he said.

Faluszczak was a priest from 1996 to 2014. For the last four years in the ministry, he was pastor at St. Boniface Church in Kersey, Elk County.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office since 2016 has been using the grand jury process to investigate how the Catholic Diocese of Erie and five other Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania handled allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

The Erie diocese has never disclosed the names of priests accused of or dismissed in the past over allegations of sexual abuse. In February 2004, the diocese released data that showed 20 priests were credibly accused of sexually abusing a total of 38 minors in the diocese from 1950 to 2002.

In Buffalo, Faluszczak made the abuse allegation on Sunday during a demonstration outside St. Joseph Cathedral, where he and others called on Bishop Richard J. Malone to release the names of clergy involved in sexual-abuse cases in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

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