Altar Boy Stalked by Pedophile Priest

By Ralph Cipriano
Philadelphia Priest Abuse Trial Blog
March 28, 2012

A former altar boy told a jury Wednesday how he was stalked by a pedophile priest.

The former altar boy, now 36, took the witness stand to testify in the Catholic sex abuse trial. The victim told the jury how back in 1991, when he was a 15-year-old sophomore at Bishop John Neumann High School, he was in a book store browsing through gay pornographic magazines when he realized he was being watched.

The victim described himself as a "tiny" five-foot-one, 110-pound kid "with big hair and a moustache" who was wearing his Bishop Neumann jacket. Father Francis X. Trauger was at least 6-foot-3, the victim testified, dressed in black, but not wearing a collar.

"He taps me on the shoulder and confronts me," the victim recalled. He had a half-dozen mags rolled up in his hand. "What are you buying?" the priest wanted to know. "I just have some magazines," the victim recalled saying.

"I know what you have, let me see the magazines," the victim quoted the priest as saying. The priest grabbed the magazines from the victim and browsed through them. He handed the mags back to the victim and asked the boy his name. the victim refused to answer. The priest asked the victim what school he went to. When the victim again refused to answer, the priest reminded him, "It's on your jacket."

"Don't worry, I'll find you," the priest said, before he left.

A few weeks later, the victim testified, he was in seventh period religion class when somebody knocked on the door, and told the teacher he needed to talk to the victim. It was Father Trauger, and this time he was wearing a collar.

When the victim saw the priest, he told the jury he was thinking, "How did he find me?" Father Trauger took the victim to the disciplanarian's office and locked the door.

"He started talking to me about sex," he recalled. The priest inquired about the boy's sexuality. "I don't know if I'm gay or straight," he testified telling the priest. The priest talked about hetero sex, and homosexuality. He talked about religion. It went on for 90 minutes, the victim testified. Throughout his entire sermon, Father Trauger had his eyes closed while he rocked back and forth. The victim said he couldn't take his eyes off the priest.

The priest put his hand on the victim's knee while he talked about another boy, a family friend, that the priest said he frequently gave massages to, to help the boy go to sleep. The priest was demonstrating his massage techniques on the victim's leg. The witness recalled clutching his book bag as the priest's hand wandered further up his leg, to his thigh.

"We need to pray," the victim said the priest told him.

He said he got down on his knees on the carpeted floor of the office.

"He was behind me," the victim testified. The priest unbuckled the boy's belt and unzipped his pants. the victim said his eyes were still closed but he heard the priest unzipping his pants. Then a school employee the victim identified as Brother Joe started banging on the locked door of the office, yelling, "Who's in there?"

"Don't say anything," the victim testified that the priest told him. "We're just having a conference," the priest told Brother Joe after the door was opened. "That kid's mother's looking for him," the victim recalled Brother Joe saying. "That kid's mother wants him home."

Father Trauger then volunteered to drive the victim home. But first the victim said he had to get some books, because he had homework to do. So the priest went to the boy's locker and rummaged through it, looking for porno mags. While he was searching, the priest told the boy he knew where he lived, and he knew where he worked, at a local grocery store. The priest said he also knew who the victim's father was, as well as his mother, and several nieces and nephews.

"I was clutching my book bag all the way home," the victim testified. The priest let him off on the street near his house. "I'll be in touch," Father Trauger said as he drove away.

The victim took all his gay porno mags and threw them in a trash compactor. He was terrified that Father Trauger would talk to his family. "I didn't want my parents to know I was gay," he told the jury.

The victim was subsequently visited by the principal and vice principal of Bishop Neumann, who spoke to his parents about Father Trauger.

The priest was prominently mentioned in a 2005 grand jury report on sex abuse in the archdiocese of Philadelphia. "One night in a Poconos motel in the spring of 1981, Fr. Francis X. Trauger repeatedly tried to anally penetrate a 12-year-old altar boy and for hours manually manipulated his penis," the report said. The boy's parents reported the abuse to their pastor. But that didn't stop Father Trauger.

Ordained in 1972, Father Trauger was transferred eight times during his career, each time to a parish with a school, and each time without any warnings to parents about the priest's behavior, the grand jury report said. In 2003, after the priest's files were subpoenaed by a grand jury, the archdiocese finally announced it was removing Trauger from ministry. The archdiocese made its decision after Father Trauger admitted to Monsignor William J. Lynn, now on trial for conspiracy and endangering children, that he had sexually abused three boys.

The former altar boy was one of the lucky ones who got away.


Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.