Erie Diocese Releases Names of Accused Priests, Laypeople

By Ed Palattella
April 6, 2018

Bishop Lawrence Persico increases transparency with disclosures, which diocese is making as a statewide grand jury nears end of its probe of how Erie diocese, others handled allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

The Catholic Diocese of Erie on Friday opened a long-locked vault of secrets and released the names of diocesan priests accused of sexually abusing minors.

In a reversal of diocesan policies, Bishop Lawrence Persico disclosed the names at a 10 a.m. news conference at St. Mark Center in Erie, the headquarters of the 13-county, 202,000-member diocese.

Persico released the names about two weeks after the diocese issued a March 21 statement that it would make the disclosures soon. The diocese issued that statement a day after the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo released the names of 42 priests, 24 of whom are dead, accused of sexually abusing minors in that diocese.

On March 21, the spokeswoman for the Erie diocese, Anne-Marie Welsh, said, “We have been preparing to take similar steps in the next several weeks.”

The Erie diocese said the purpose of the Friday news conference was to unveil its revised policy for the Protection of Children and Youth.

The disclosures are a stunning break from diocesan policy. The disclosures also come as a statewide investigative grand jury is in the final stages of its review of how the Erie diocese and five other Catholic dioceses statewide handled allegations of clerical sexual abuse. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office is running the probes.

The grand jury’s term is expected to end by April 30, with its report to be finished several months later. The report will be public and is expected to name abusive priests, based on previous grand jury reports on other Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. A year ago, the attorney general’s office released a highly critical 147-page grand jury report on the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown that named priests.

Policy changes online

The Catholic Diocese of Erie said it will soon have a new web page based on information released at Friday’s news conference on its website:

Persico, who started as the bishop of the Erie diocese in October 2012, a year ago introduced a policy of publicly disclosing the names of priests who, from that point on, have been permanently dismissed from the priesthood for disciplinary reasons or removed from active clerical duty for reasons related to wrongdoing.

Persico’s policy reflects the sweeping changes that Catholic dioceses across the United States made in response to the child sex-abuse scandal that exploded nationwide in 2002.

But Persico’s predecessor as bishop, Donald W. Trautman, who led the diocese from 1990 to 2012, did not publicize the names of abusive or defrocked priests.

In 2004, the diocese released data that showed 20 priests were credibly accused of sexually abusing a total of 38 minors in the diocese from 1950 to 2002. The Erie Times-News identified many of them based on its reporting.

The diocese released these names Friday:

Individuals believed to be alive and living in the locations noted.

• Former Fr. Michael J. Amy — Niceville, Florida. Laicized (removed from ministry and later voluntarily resigned from the clergy).

• Fr. Michael G. Barletta — Erie. Forbidden to function as a priest.

• Fr. Robert F. Bower — Edinboro. Forbidden to function as a priest.

• Andre C. Butler — Rosedale, New York. Former lay agency employee.

• Former Fr. Dennis C. Chludzinski — Erie. Laicized.

• Megan E. Fecko — Cleveland. Former lay teacher.

• Kevin J. Feyas — Erie. Former lay teacher and parish musician.

• Former Fr. Chester J. Gawronski — Sahuarita, Arizona. Dismissed from the clergy.

• Timothy G. Hanson, Sr. — North East. Layman prohibited from volunteer work or entering school property.

• Fr. Stephen E. Jeselnic — Colorado Springs, Colorado. Forbidden to function as a priest.

• Former Fr. Gary L. Ketcham — Erie. Laicized.

• Fr. Thaddeus T. Kondzielski — Waterford. Forbidden to function as a priest.

• Kevin S. Kulhanek — Erie. Former lay school volunteer.

• Fr. Salvatore P. Luzzi — Bradford. Forbidden to function as a priest.

• Eve Minter (nee Spangler) — Henrico, Virginia. Former lay teacher.

• David Montgomery — Otisville, New York. (In federal prison until 2041) Former lay teacher.

• Fr. Leon T. Muraski — Erie. Forbidden to function as a priest.

• Denise J. (nee Geitner) Myers (Meyer) — Greensburg. Former lay teacher.

• Hattie B. Nichols — Erie. Former lay agency employee.

• Philip J. Pochatko — Subiaco, Arkansas. Former lay school teacher.

• Brian J. Radachy — Elkton, Ohio. (In federal prison until 2024) Former lay school teacher.

• Former Fr. Samuel B. Slocum — Bradford. Dismissed from the clergy.

• Former Fr. Thomas E. Smith — Erie. Dismissed from the clergy.

• Fr. Daniel J. Taylor — Tucson, Arizona. Forbidden to function as a priest.

• Ron Thomsen — Erie. Former lay volunteer.

• Dennis E. Vickery — Erie. Former lay teacher.

• Joseph M. Votino — Masury, Ohio. Former lay teacher/coach.

• Craig T. Ward — Erie. Former lay agency employee.

Deceased (“who but for their death would be on the list of people prohibited from employment”)

• Fr. Donald C. Bolton, CSsR.

• Fr. Edmund S. Borycz, OFM.

• Msgr. Bonaventure M. Ciufoli. Returned to Italy.

• Fr. Donald J. Cooper.

• William (Bill) Couse. Former lay school employee.

• Fr. David V. Dobrowolski (abuse reported after his death).

• William P. Garvey. Former lay teacher/coach (later served as Mercyhurst College president).

• Fr. Herbert G. Gloekler (abuse reported after his death).

• Fr. Robert E. Hannon.

• Fr. Joseph W. Jerge.

• Fr. Edward W. Jungquist.

• Fr. Thomas C. Kelley.

• Fr. Gerard (Gerald, Gerry) H. Krebs.

• Fr. Jerry Kucan, OFM.

• Msgr. Daniel Martin.

• Msgr. Joseph F. Meisinger (abuse reported after his death).

• Fr. John L. Murray.

• Fr. Giles L. Nealen, OSB.

• Fr. John A. Piatkowski. Believed to have died in 1970 with ability to function (records incomplete from relevant time periods).

• Former Fr. William F. Presley.

• Fr. John P. Schanz.

• Fr. Charles A. Sheets, Jr.

• Bishop Alfred M. Watson, Bishop of Erie. Failed to act to stop abuse which was credibly reported to him.

Three individuals are under investigation by law enforcement (each presumed innocent unless proved otherwise):

• Fr. Sean P. Kerins — Naples, Florida.

• Fr. David L. Poulson — Oil City.

• John (Jack) E. Tome — location unknown (last known to be in Columbia, Maryland).

With the release of the names, the Erie diocese has joined the list of more than 30 Catholic dioceses nationwide that have disclosed the names of priests accused of abuse, according to The Roman Catholic Church operates 33 archdioceses and 145 dioceses in the United States.

In the Erie diocese, before Friday, Persico on Feb. 13 had most recently named priests who had resigned or been removed. He announced that he had accepted the resignation of the Poulson, 64, the pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Cambridge Springs, after the diocese received what it believes to be “credible allegations against Father Poulson regarding the sexual abuse of minors.”

Persico also announced on Feb. 13 that Kerins, 27, was removed from his roles as chaplain at Kennedy Catholic High School in Hermitage, Mercer County, and from the Church of the Good Shepherd Parish in West Middlesex, after the diocese determined that Kerins sent a series of inappropriate text messages to a Kennedy Catholic student.








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