Group Calls on Diocese to Seek Other Potential Victims of Jailed Ex-priest

The Times-Tribune
October 29, 2016

An advocacy group for clergy abuse victims is urging the Diocese of Scranton to reach out to individuals who may know about other potential crimes committed by a former priest who is up for parole after molesting a boy a decade ago in Wayne County.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said it opposes the release of Steven Wolpert, who is serving a nine- to 18-year sentence at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child under 13.

“Kids will be safest if Wolpert serves his entire sentence of 18 years behind bars,” SNAP director David Clohessy said in a statement.

Mr. Wolpert, 63, who served as a priest in Brooklyn, New York, from 1981 to 1987, pleaded guilty in Wayne County Court in March 2008, to charges he abused an 8-year-old boy in Hawley in 2006 and 2007. He was sentenced three months later.

In August, Mr. Wolpert had his parole interview with the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, which is reviewing his case, board spokeswoman Maria Finn said Friday.

If the board grants parole, he could be released as early as Dec. 11, she said.

Although Mr. Wolpert never had a formal assignment in the Diocese of Scranton, the molestation happened in the diocese and he “very likely used his status as a priest to ingratiate himself” to area families, Mr. Clohessy said.

He called on Bishop Joseph C. Bambera to aggressively reach out to those who may have information or suspicions about other victims.

Diocesan spokesman William Genello said it is diocese policy to report all abuse allegations to law enforcement.

“In its mission to protect children and to offer pastoral care to survivors of sexual abuse, the Diocese of Scranton consistently and aggressively seeks to respond to anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered such crimes,” he said in an email.

A notice encouraging the reporting of suspected abuse is posted on the diocesan website and in every edition of The Catholic Light, he said. The notice also publishes regularly in parish bulletins.

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