Former priest named in grand jury report found working at counseling center

By Paul Van Osdol
September 10, 2018

[with video]

Action News Investigates has learned a former priest accused of molesting boys found a job as a social worker at a counseling center, working near children.

William B. Yockey was a priest at several parishes in the Pittsburgh area before leaving the priesthood in the wake of child sex abuse allegations.

Yockey did not answer questions when Action News Investigates found him at the Community Counseling Center in Ashtabula, Ohio, where he was working as a therapist.

The nonprofit center treats adults and children with mental illness and substance abuse. The center's director said Yockey was treating only adult patients.

According to the grand jury report, the allegations against Yockey date back to the early 1980s when he was based at St. Bernadette Church in Monroeville. The report says Yockey molested two boys at the church rectory, one of them 16 years old, the other an undetermined age.

The grand jury report says Yockey molested another teen at St. Canice in Pittsburgh, where he worked after leaving Saint Bernadette. That church is now closed.

The grand jury says the Pittsburgh diocese was made aware of two abuse allegations in 1991.

It says Yockey did not deny the allegations and then resigned from the priesthood.

More victims came forward in 2009 and 2013.

But the grand jury says the diocese did not report any allegations concerning Yockey to the district attorney until 2014.

No criminal charges against him were ever filed.

That allowed Yockey to get licensed as a social worker in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

He advertises that he works with adults, children and adolescents.

Parents whose children attend the Ashtabula counseling center were shocked to hear of the allegations against him.

“I think that's disturbing. I don't know why they would have someone with a history like that,” said parent Katie Dodd.

“You can't work anywhere with kids and stuff when you do something like that. You should be in jail,” said parent Karen Marshand.

Counseling center CEO Paul Bolino said he knew nothing about the allegations against Yockey until Action News Investigates brought it to his attention.

Asked about his reaction to the allegations against Yockey, Bolino said, "I haven't had time to look at anything at all. Literally just taking all this in. Just learned of this an hour and a half ago."

Shortly after Action News Investigates confronted Yockey, he told Bolino about the allegations. Then, Bolino said, Yockey was fired.

Bolino would not say whether Yockey disclosed that he was a priest when he was hired, but he did say there was nothing in his application or background check that raised concerns.

Last month, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik said the diocese would tell potential employers if a priest was removed from ministry because of allegations of abuse.

“If the question came forth to us, we have a responsibility to tell people what we know,” Zubik said.

But the grand jury report says in 2006, when the Veterans Administration called for a reference check on Yockey, the diocese did not disclose the allegations against him.

The diocese told the VA that Yockey "was granted a leave of absence for personal reasons" and it was "not able to provide any information" beyond that.

It is unclear whether the diocese was contacted about Yockey’s job in Ohio.

Yockey is still licensed as a social worker in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The director of the Ohio licensing board said the grand jury allegations are not enough to have his license suspended.

A Pennsylvania licensing spokesman would not say whether the allegations could affect his license.

The Pittsburgh diocese has paid about $54,000 in Catholic school tuition reimbursement for the children of one of Yockey's victims.



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