Lancaster Co. man sexually abused by priest says testimony to grand jury afforded emotional release
By Ivey Dejesus
May 1, 2018
|Todd Frey Todd Frey was 13 in 1982 when his priest began to sexually molest him. In the fall of 2016, after decades of torment, Frey got to testifiy before a grand jury investigating six Roman Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania. This photo was taken in 2010. |
|Todd Frey is among what could be hundreds of victims who in the past 18 months have testified before the grand jury as the state attorney general's office wraps up its investigation into the dioceses of Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Scranton and Greensburg.|
|To this day, Frey keeps the letters he received from Harrisburg Diocese regarding his molestation by a priest. In one letter written in April 1996, then-Bishop Nicholas C. Dattilo acknowledged that what happened to him was a "source of pain and anguish." |
|Todd Frey first told his story to PennLive in 2011, amid the clergy sex abuse then sweeping the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. |
|Todd Frey holds a picture of himself at age of 13, around the time of his molestation by a Catholic priest of the Harrisburg Diocese.|
In the fall of 2016, after a lifetime of torment from painful memories, Todd Frey got an emotional release.
After nearly four decades of living with the pain and confusion of having been sexually molested by his priest, Frey got the chance to talk about it before a panel of men and women who he hopes can help give him the opportunity to seek legal recourse.
Frey in October of that year testified before the 40th Statewide Grand Jury, which is investigating the sexual abuse of children across six dioceses in Pennsylvania.
"Ever since grand jury listened to me that day that I spoke, I felt like I was truly counted," said Frey, who is nearing his 50th birthday. "It made a difference. It made a big difference."
Frey, of Lancaster County, is among an untold number of victims who in the past 18 months have testified before the grand jury as the state attorney general's office wraps up its investigation into the dioceses of Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Scranton and Greensburg.
Grand juries operate under a cloak of secrecy, so it's not clear how many victims have testified before the panel. But victims advocates estimate the number of victims and the volume of materials subpoenaed from the church are staggering.
"I did all the speaking," Frey said. "I felt like 70 people were staring at me. I had a microphone ... People were looking and listening. I didn't stumble. I know my story, and I live with it. I stand by it."
Frey was 13 in 1982, when his priest began to sexually molest him. To this day, he keeps the letters written in April 1996 from then-Bishop Nicholas C. Dattilo, acknowledging that what happened to him was a "source of pain and anguish."
"The life of a bishop has many joys and many sorrows. The most profound of sorrows is for a bishop to discover that one of the priests of his diocese has betrayed his office by sexual misconduct," Dattilo wrote to Frey in one of the letters.
Dattilo died in 2004. No criminal charges were ever leveled against Guy Marsico, the priest named by Frey and referenced in Dattilo's letter. A former priest, Marsico was assigned to St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Rohrerstown, Lancaster County, as well as St. Rose of Lima in York.
Frey first told his story to PennLive in 2011, amid the clergy sex abuse then sweeping the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. That spring, PennLive reached out to Marsico, who had long been defrocked and was, at the time, a travel agent in the Harrisburg area. Marsico declined to comment. He is listed in the Bishop Accountability database of priests accused of child sexual abuse.
Frey hopes the grand jury report will lead to recommendations for prosecution and, more importantly, changes to the law that would allow him to seek legal recourse.
"If (the law) gets turned around ... and there is legal recourse, I'm already prepared as to where I'm going," he said.
As with most child victims of sexual abuse, Frey waited years to report his abuse. He was 25 when he contacted the Harrisburg Diocese in 1994. By then the statute of limitations had expired for him.
His appearance before the grand jury represented the few times he has spoken candidly about his abuse.
"Other than your closest friends, most people don't want to hear this," said Frey, who for years sought counseling and substance abuse rehabilitation.
The experience before the grand jury made an impression on him.
"I remember so many eyeballs looking at me," he said. "There was such a wide array of folks. I felt I was speaking in front of a group of people that just gathered ... they were normal people. Their eyes were just focused on what I was saying....I know my story I feel my story. I've lived it and I know how to tell it because I've lived my story."
The current investigation was launched about six months after another grand jury investigation concluded in March 2016 that systemic clergy sex abuse of children had been tolerated by church officials for decades in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
Frey agrees that the scope of the grand jury report could be sweeping, given the geographic and time scale. Investigators subpoenaed documents pertaining to child sex abuse in dioceses as far back as the mid-1940s.
All diocesan spokespersons have indicated that their respective diocese had cooperated fully with the request of investigators.
Frey recalls that officials from the Dauphin County District Attorney's office back in the late 1990s told him that he was not Marsico's only victim.
"The housekeeper at the rectory had told me he saw other kids go in and out of the rectory to see Marsico," Frey said. "He knew my story ... why wasn't there anybody else ... and who is that? Maybe that will come out of the grand jury investigation."