Police: Priest Who Served in Hazleton Molested Altar Boy

By Bob Kalinowsk
Standard Speaker
June 16, 2012

A Roman Catholic priest from Wilkes-Barre who has served in Hazleton sexually abused an altar boy for six years while serving as pastor of a Tioga County church, state police charged on Friday.

The Rev. Thomas P. Shoback, 66, is facing 32 counts of child sex abuse, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors, police said.

Investigators with state police at Mansfield say the alleged sexual assaults occurred between 1991 and 1997 at the rectory of St. Mary's Parish in Blossburg, where Shoback was pastor, and at a nearby private cabin.

Shoback would later serve at various Northeastern Pennsylvania churches in Exeter Township, Jermyn, Hazleton, Plains Township and Plymouth. In addition, he was a faculty member at the former Bishop Hoban High School in Wilkes-Barre.

The sex abuse allegations surfaced in November 2011, when officials with the Diocese of Scranton received claims Shoback had inappropriate sexual contact with a child years ago. They forwarded the information to Tioga County investigators, police said.

At the time, the Diocese of Scranton issued a statement that said it removed Shoback from ministry and suspended him from priestly duties.

"The Diocese has cooperated with law enforcement and will continue to do so in pursuit of justice," Diocese spokesman William Genello said in a statement Friday after Shoback was charged. "The Diocese of Scranton is committed to protecting children and to providing support to victims of sexual abuse. In expressing his personal sorrow for the pain suffered by survivors of abuse, the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, requests the faithful of the diocese to join him in praying for the healing of all those affected while working together to safeguard our children."

Shoback, whose name remains on the diocese's online priest directory, is still suspended, Genello said.

Police did not say how old the alleged victim was, only that he was under age 18 throughout the years of abuse.

Shoback will be arraigned on the charges in front of Magisterial District Judge James Carson in Mansfield at a later date, and a receptionist said the magistrate's office will not release the criminal complaint against him until the arraignment.

Efforts to reach Shoback on Friday were unsuccessful.

Shoback, a Pittston native, was ordained as a priest in 1977. He has served as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Plains Township, St. Joseph's Church in Plains Township, and Holy Redeemer Church in Exeter Township. Shoback also worked as assistant pastor at St. Joseph's Church in Hazleton and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Plymouth.

From 2006 until the abuse allegations emerged in November 2011, Shoback served as the pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary Church in Jermyn, Lackawanna County.

Shoback's brother, Edward, who also was a longtime priest in the Scranton Diocese, was defrocked by the Vatican in July 2009 following similar child sex allegations, according to Times-Shamrock newspaper archives.









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