No Criminal Wrongdoing by Johnstown Police in Mccort Sex Abuse

By Maria Miller
March 15, 2016

Following the announcement of criminal charges against three Franciscan Friars, accused of covering up sexual abuse by a former Bishop McCort teacher and athletic trainer, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Tuesday her office found no criminal wrongdoing by the Bishop McCort board, the Johnstown Police Department or the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

However, a few weeks ago Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan told 6 News she thinks the Johnstown Police Department could have done more.

Allegations of sexual abuse at Bishop McCort Catholic High School first surfaced in 2011. That's when Bishop Mark Bartchak notified Johnstown police of two victims.

"At least two individuals had previously come forward previously to the Johnstown Police Department and they never notified me of that," said Callihan.

It wasn't until 2013 that Callihan said she was informed when more people came forward after a similar case in Ohio.

"The grand jury could also not find conclusive evidence that the Johnstown police engaged in any criminal wrongdoing," Kane said. "However, unprofessional conduct on the part of this law enforcement, it does not appear that the officials engaged in any criminal conduct."

Kane wouldn't elaborate what that unprofessional conduct was; neither would her deputy.

"We received this case from Kelly Callihan based upon a referral in which she alleged could be potential criminal wrongdoing," said Daniel Dye, deputy attorney general. "We could not conclusively find any wrongdoing in the Johnstown Police Department. As to what issues Kelly Callihan thought were criminal when she referred it, I would refer you back to (her.)"

6 News sat down with Callihan three weeks ago when the initial findings against the diocese were released. She talked then about her disappointment with the Johnstown Police Department's handling of two victims, saying more could have been done .

"A decision was made through the Police Department not to prosecute without getting my input," she said. "I believe the basis was because they felt the statute of limitations had run on the charges, when in fact they had not."

Johnstown police Chief Craig Foust was unavailable for comment Tuesday, but in a story with 6 News in 2014, he said the allegations that came to his office were referred to the detective bureau. On of the two victims, he said didn't want to file charges. The other, he said, they could never track down. Foust said at the time, "If there's no victim, there's no case."








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