Diocese Adds to List of Accused

By David Singleton
Citizens Voice
December 23, 2018

The Diocese of Scranton has added a nun from Exeter who taught school for many years in Dunmore and 10 other people to its still-evolving list of individuals accused of sexually abusing children.

The additions bring to 81 the number of names on the list of “credibly accused individuals” the diocese originally disclosed Aug. 14 to coincide with the release of a statewide investigating grand jury report exposing decades of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy and steps taken by the church to cover it up in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Scranton.

Of the 11 new individuals on the list the diocese maintains on its website, six have already been named by The Citizens’ Voice — three Jesuit priests whose identities were disclosed Monday by the religious order’s Maryland Province and three diocesan lay employees the newspaper determined in August were omitted from the diocese’s original list.

The other five include two diocesan priests who were not on the list released in August and three previously

unidentified members of religious orders not directly associated with the diocese.

According to the diocese, the priests, religious and lay people on its credibly accused list have either served or resided in the Diocese of Scranton.

“This list is updated as the diocese is made aware of substantiated allegations,” diocesan spokesman William Genello said in an emailed response to questions about the fluidity of the online list and the process for adding names.

On its website, the diocese says allegations against the individuals were corroborated “by secular legal proceedings, canon law proceedings, self-admission by the individual, and/or other evidence.”

The two diocesan priests newly added to the list are both deceased, according to the diocese. Diocesan officials provided no further information about the accusations against them, including when and where the underlying conduct happened, but said the allegations were recently received.

The priests are:

Michael G. Polcha: Polcha was born in 1908 and ordained in 1933. He served at St. Julianna, Rock Lake; St. John the Baptist, Pittston; Corpus Christi, Montdale, and Mission, Blakely; Our Lady of Fatima Institute, Elmhurst, where he was director and procurator; St. Eulalia, Elmhurst, and Holy Trinity, Swoyersville. He died in 1989.

Michael J. Pulicare: Born in 1946, Pulicare was ordained in 1971. His assignments included St. Ann, Shohola; Most Precious Blood, Hazleton; St. Anthony of Padua, Dunmore, and instructor, Bishop O’Hara High School, Dunmore; St. Matthew, East Stroudsburg; St. Joseph, Scranton; chaplain, Forest Lakes Council, Boy Scouts; St. Mary Czestochowa, Eynon; St. Mary’s Assumption, Jessup; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Carbondale, and St. John the Evangelist, Susquehanna.

Pulicare went on leave for health reasons in 1999 and died later that year, the diocese said.

The three newly identified members of religious orders on the list are:

Joseph Fertal, S.V.D.: Fertal, who was ordained in 1959 and is a member of the Society of the Divine Word, was accused in 1995 of molesting a 16-year-old boy in the Diocese of San Bernardino, California. A 1996 civil lawsuit arising from the accusation was settled, and a criminal investigation was dropped for lack of evidence, according to online accounts.

A spokeswoman for the Society of the Divine Word said Fertal, who now lives in Chicago, was born in the Diocese of Scranton. It was unclear if he has any other connection to the diocese.

Sister Clare Pisaneschi, M.P.F.: Pisaneschi, a Religious Teachers Filippini sister who died in 2014, taught in the diocese for a number of years in the 1960s but then was stationed elsewhere, the diocese said. She returned in 1980 and taught until 1983 at Dunmore Central Catholic High School. In 1998, she returned again and taught at Dunmore Central Catholic, Bishop O’Hara and Holy Cross high schools until 2012.

Her obituary listed other teaching assignments in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Maryland. It also indicated she served as pastoral minister and director of religious education at Mount Carmel Parish, Pittston.

An Exeter native, Pisaneschi received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Marywood University and her master’s in history from Seton Hall University. She entered the Religious Teachers Filippini in 1949, received the habit a year later and made her religious profession in 1953.

No information was available about the accusations against her.

John Rebovich, O.S.J.: Rebovich, an Oblates of St. Joseph priest, served at the OSJ Seminary in Laflin from 1968 to 1972 and at St. John the Evangelist in Pittston in 1972-73 before working in the Diocese of Harrisburg, according to online records. He later became a Byzantine Catholic priest.

Beginning in 1990, he was the subject of multiple accusations involving the abuse of boys dating back to 1975, including one in the Diocese of Harrisburg. He is deceased.

In addition to adding the 11 recently identified credibly accused individuals to the list on its website, the diocese will publish their names in The Catholic Light, the diocesan newspaper, and in parish bulletins across the 11-county diocese, Genello said.

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