Greensburg Diocese sued in second case involving Monessen priest's alleged sexual misconduct

By Rich Cholodofsky
Tribune Review
December 18, 2018

Greensburg Diocese sued in second case involving Monessen priest's alleged sexual misconduct

A second lawsuit has been filed against the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg alleging it was aware of ongoing and repeated sexual conduct of its priests and failed to protect a teenage boy who claimed he was a victim of that abuse.

Identified in the lawsuit as John Doe 2, the now 55-year-old Allegheny County man said he was repeatedly subjected to sexual contact from the Rev. John Tamilowski while attending St. Hyacinth Church in Monessen during the late 1970s.

According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Westmoreland County, the man claims he served as an altar boy at the church from ages 14 to 18 when Tamilowski plied him with gifts, took him out for expensive dinners, gave him alcohol and traveled with him on several overnight trips.

Tamilowski engaged him in sexually explicit conversations and later had improper sexual contact with the teenager “at least 25 times,” according to the lawsuit.

The court action filed by Pittsburgh lawyer Alan Perer also described sexual incidents in a Pittsburgh park and another at a “European” health spa.

The diocese has not been served with a copy of the lawsuit, spokesman Jerry Zufelt said.

“The people of the Diocese of Greensburg pray for all of the survivors of child sexual abuse and want the survivors to know that we always stand ready to help them in their healing,” Zufelt wrote in an email. “The Diocese of Greensburg takes the protection of all children, young people and vulnerable adults seriously.”

Diocese officials say they report every abuse allegation involving a child or vulnerable adult to the PA ChildLine protective services program and the appropriate district attorney’s office. The diocese covers four counties: Westmoreland, Fayette, Indiana and Armstrong.

Regardless of when a suspected incident of abuse occurred, the diocese encourages people to report it to PA ChildLine at 800-932-0313.

“The diocese continues to educate both children and adults in parishes and schools of the Diocese of Greensburg on how to spot and report suspected abuse,” Zufelt wrote.

Tamilowski served as a priest in several parishes for more than 40 years before he died in 1994.

He was named in a grand jury report released last summer in which Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro identified more than 300 predator priests suspected of having sexual contact with children.

That statewide investigation found that the Greensburg diocese knew of similar complaints against Tamilowski dating to the 1960s but continued to allow him to serve as a priest and have contact with children.

Doe 2, according to the lawsuit, came forward to his therapist and spouse only after reading the grand jury report.

The three-count lawsuit alleges fraud and conspiracy and accuses the diocese of suppressing evidence of pedophile priests.

According to the diocese, Tamilowski served parishes in Monessen, New Kensington, Mt. Pleasant, Leechburg, Schenley, Harrison City, Fayette City and Uniontown.

“Prior to and during his assignment at St. Hyacinth Church it is believed and therefore averred that the defendant was on notice that Tamilowski had a sexual interest in children and would utilize his position as a priest to groom and thereafter seek sexual gratification from his physical contact with children within the parish,” according to the lawsuit.

Perer filed a similar lawsuit in October against the diocese on behalf of another man, identified only as John Doe, who claimed he was repeatedly molested by Tamilowski while attending the Monessen church in the 1970s.



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