Sex abuse case against retired priest dropped by Allegheny County DA’s office

Tribune-Review [Pittsburgh PA]

August 10, 2022

By Paula Reed Ward

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday withdrew charges against a Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy in 2001.

The paperwork dismissing the case against the Rev. Hugh Lang, 92, said it was being done in the best interest of the alleged victim.

Lang was a priest at St. Therese in Munhall when police said he abused the boy. Authorities charged Lang in 2019 with indecent assault, indecent exposure, corruption of minors and attempted aggravated indecent assault.

The alleged victim came forward after seeing media coverage of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s grand jury investigation into abuse in the Catholic Church in August 2018. He told investigators that Lang, who also served as the former schools superintendent of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, abused him during altar server training.

Lang retired in 2006.

After he was charged, Lang had a nonjury trial before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Mark V. Tranquilli and was found guilty of indecent assault and related charges.

He was ordered to serve nearly two years in jail.

However, Lang appealed, arguing that the prosecution should not have been permitted to introduce evidence at his trial that Lang searched online for defense attorneys when the AG’s grand jury report was released.

After Tranquilli resigned from the bench, the case was assigned to Judge Anthony M. Mariani, who agreed with the defense and threw Lang’s conviction out.

The state Superior Court in May affirmed that decision, finding that the admission of the online search for a lawyer was prejudicial and violated Lang’s constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial.

In reaching its decision to drop the case, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Kelly wrote that the alleged victim is in agreement with the decision.

“The commonwealth is electing to withdraw charges for the sole purpose of what is in the best interest of the survivor of sexual assault associated with this matter,” Kelly wrote.

In a statement, Lang thanked his family and friends for their support.

“I have never felt alone,” he said. “A special thank you to my priest friends who never questioned my innocence. Gratitude and prayers for all.

Paula Reed Ward is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paula by email at or via Twitter .