Former U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh applauds federal Catholic clergy abuse probe, reveals what he witnessed as a child

Tribune Review

November 29, 2018

By Deb Erdley

As the top federal prosecutor in Western Pennsylvania, David Hickton tried a Somerset County priest for molesting children at a Central American orphanage and later invoked federal organized crime statutes in an inquiry into the Altoona Johnstown diocese.

He said he had reason to be suspicious of the Catholic church.

In a lengthy interview with USAToday published Thursday, Hickton, 63, revealed that he personally witnessed teammates on his 6th-grade basketball team at St. Anne’s School in Castle Shannon singled out by a coach who was fondling children. Though the former altar boy said he was never abused, he said he saw the team’s coach select a child to shower with him after every game.

“It was like Russian roulette,” Hickton, the former U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh, told USAToday. “Everybody was looking at each other, worried that they might be next.”

Like many children, Hickton remained quiet, wondering why the priest who oversaw the coach’s ritual did nothing to protect the boys. Later, he learned priest — the Rev. Charles J. Chat — was among 99 priests in the Pittsburgh diocese identified by a statewide grand jury as a “predator priest” who repeatedly abused children himself.

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