Priest to Face Abuse Charges in Tioga Court
By Cheryl R. Clarke
July 27, 2012
The priest from Wilkes-Barre who was suspended from his duties last fall for allegedly sexually assaulting an altar boy in Tioga County will face the charges in county court.
The Rev. Thomas P. Shoback, 60, is charged with three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, two counts of indecent assault, two counts of endangering the welfare of children, one of corruption of minors and two counts of indecent assault.
The charges are in connection with the alleged multiple sexual assaults between February 1991 and February 1997, against the victim, now 32, who was an altar boy at St. Mary's Parish Rectory in Blossburg, Tioga County, where the Rev. Shoback was pastor.
The victim testified Thursday at a preliminary hearing that the Rev. Shoback began abusing him when he was 11 or 12 years old and that the abuse would happen three out of four Sundays each month when he stayed after Mass to help count the collection. He said he felt compelled to tell what had happened to him after the Jerry Sandusky scandal erupted "because it was the right thing to do and he didn't want it to happen to another kid."
Following his time at the Tioga County parish, the Rev. Shoback would later serve at various Northeastern Pennsylvania churches including as assistant pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Hazleton as well as other assignments in Exeter Township, Jermyn, Plains Township and Plymouth. In addition, he was a faculty member at the former Bishop Hoban High School in Wilkes-Barre.
The victim spoke in detail, testifying that the Rev. Shoback would start by touching his genitals outside his clothes, then placing his hands down his pants and fondling him, then performing oral sex on him. He also testified that on two occasions he was lying in bed naked with the Rev. Shoback and that the priest attempted to sodomize him. He said the assaults took place either at the church rectory or at the Rev. Shoback's cabin in Farmington Township.
The victim testified that he felt "controlled" by the Rev. Shoback if he didn't spend time with him and do the things the priest wanted. He said the Rev. Shoback would become angry, but that he never threatened him. He said the relationship continued sporadically even after the Rev. Shoback left St. Mary's and was transferred to a Montoursville parish, when he would go there to do odd jobs for the priest.
He said he never told anyone about the abuse, not his parents, older brother or even the woman to whom he now is married, until last November when he called the Diocese of Scranton to report the alleged abuse after the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal emerged in the news. The Diocese then suspended the Rev. Shoback from priestly duties.
The Rev. Shoback, a Pittston native, was ordained as a priest in 1977.
The Rev. Shoback's next court date is 8:30 a.m. Aug. 20 before President Judge Robert E. Dalton Jr. in the Tioga County Court of Common Pleas.
At the hearing, the victim said he denied there had been any sexual assaults in a 2006 telephone interview with someone from the Diocese, because, he said, he was "embarrassed and ashamed" and didn't want to go through what he is going through now. He also was about to get married, he said.
The victim said he had no plans to sue the diocese or anyone else. The victim said he attended religious education and was involved in Catholic youth groups while the alleged abuse was taking place. He also would work at the church after school and during the summers doing odd jobs and cleaning the rectory for an hourly wage. He also testified that the Rev. Shoback bought him gifts on a regular basis and would take him to the mall to shop, paying for everything including an all-terrain vehicle.
When he became too big for the smaller vehicle, the Rev. Shoback upgraded it to a bigger ATV.
The victim said he has since gotten rid of everything the Rev. Shoback ever bought him.
The Rev. Shoback was released on $35,000 bail.