Crash Kills Priest Accused of Seeking Sex
Stephen Forish Was Acquitted in 1998 in a 1996 Case and Was Awaiting Court Action on Other Allegations from Augus

By Kathleen Parrish and Daniel Patrick Sheehan
Morning Call [Pennsylvania]
December 15, 2006,0,2923853.story

The troubled life of Stephen Forish, an Allentown Catholic Diocese priest twice accused of soliciting sex on the street, ended Wednesday morning in a one-car crash on a rain-slicked road in Carbon County.

Forish, 61, who had left active ministry and was living in his hometown of McAdoo, Schuylkill County, was northbound on Route 93 about 9:30 a.m. when his car veered across the other lane and hit several trees, Nesquehoning police officer Jeff Ohl said.

"Whether it was driver error or medical, we don't know," Ohl said. "He did have a history of being diabetic. He could have gone into shock or had a heart attack."

Carbon County Coroner Bruce Nalesnik pronounced Forish dead at the scene of multiple injuries. The results of toxicology tests are pending.

Forish was acquitted of solicitation charges in a highly publicized Northampton County trial eight years ago.

He remained a priest but was inactive by choice when he was arrested Aug. 6 after approaching a 26-year-old man in Greensburg and asking for "sexual favors," according to state police in the Westmoreland County city. The man was one of four men Forish approached that night, police said.

Forish, who had been working as a psychologist at a private practice at the time of his arrest, had been awaiting action in Westmoreland County Court after waiving his right to a Nov. 2 preliminary hearing on charges of harassment and disorderly conduct.

In 1996, a 22-year-old man accused Forish of approaching him and offering money for sex in Bethlehem. The man said that when he refused, Forish asked him if he knew any 15-year-olds who would be interested.

Forish was tried on charges that included attempting to promote prostitution of children and was acquitted of all charges in 1998.

Also in 1996, McAdoo police acknowledged they had been keeping close tabs on Forish after six parents complained the priest had tried to "lure" their children at various times since 1990. None of those complaints led to charges.

Before the August arrest, Forish worked at Family Psychological Consultants in Kittanning, Armstrong County, whose phone book ad states he specialized in family, marriage and child psychology.

"We're praying for the repose of Monsignor Forish's soul at his death," said Matt Kerr, spokesman for the Allentown Diocese. "There's a prayer that Catholics say at the time of a person's death. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. That's our prayer for Monsignor Forish today."

Ohl, the Nesquehoning police officer, said Forish was alone in the car when it crashed and that another motorist, who was traveling in front of him, said Forish couldn't have been driving faster than 60 mph.

"He was roughly doing the speed limit," Ohl said. "There were no skid marks or evasive maneuvers. "

Ohl said he arrived on the scene four minutes after receiving the 911 call. "He was pretty much killed on impact," he said.


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