Assumption donates more than $30,000 given by priest named in sexual abuse report to survivors

Worcester Telegram & Gazette [Worcester MA]

March 6, 2023

By Marco Cartolano

Assumption University has donated more than $30,000 in contributions to the university from a retired priest named in a public 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on clerical sexual abuse of children in the state to abuse survivors, Assumption President Gregory Weiner said in a message to the university community.

According to Weiner, the unnamed priest made a bequest commitment to Assumption University’s capital campaign in September 2021.

Weiner, who was named university president in October after serving as its interim leader since April 2022, said he learned in the fall of the gift and the priest’s appearance in the grand jury report as someone credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

Weiner said he has since directed the university administration to both review its internal processes for evaluating major gifts and to formally inform the priest that the university will not accept the bequest.

Instead, Weiner said, the university has donated the priest’s prior contributions to Assumption totaling $31,713.04 to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). The donation was designated for services to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania. 

“While the University is in no position to adjudicate allegations made against any individual, we are in a position to say — and do say — that Assumption has no tolerance for association with anyone credibly accused of heinous crimes against children,” Weiner said.  

Responding to a reporter’s question, Weiner said that the priest’s name is public information from the 2018 report, but the university will not identify him as they have no investigative means to assess the allegations.

The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report is one of the broadest inquiries into clerical sexual abuse in the U.S.

Conducted from 2016 to 2018, the redacted report lists over 300 clergy members in from six of Pennsylvania’s eight dioceses as facing credible accusations of sexually abusing children.

Names from the dioceses of Allentown, Scranton, Pittsburgh, Erie, Greensburg and Harrisburg were included in the report. The dioceses of Philadelphia and Altoona–Johnstown were subject to earlier grand jury investigations and were not part of the 2018 report.

Along with a list of accused clerics, the report details patterns of conduct the grand jury found the dioceses to have used to coverup abuses.

The names of about two-dozen of the listed priests are redacted from the report released to the public.

In a statement, SNAP applauded Assumption’s handling of the revelation.

“Through their actions, Assumption University officials are setting an example for Catholic institutions around the world,” the statement read. “They are demonstrating an earnest and thoughtful way to go beyond platitudes and take serious and significant action to help survivors heal.”