Retired priest, 89, convicted of abusing boy at church in 2001 sentenced

February 06, 2020

[with video]

An 89-year-old retired priest who was found guilty of sexually abusing a then-11-year-old-boy in 2001 was sentenced to nine to 23 months and 29 days on Thursday afternoon.

The Rev. Hugh Lang was found guilty on six of eight charges he sexually abused a boy in the basement of Saint Therese Church in Munhall.

The judge shaved one day off of the sentence so Lang would not go to state prison. The execution of the sentence does not start immediately because there are issues over a motion to dismiss because of statute of limitations.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Mark Tranquilli convicted Lang in a non-jury trial but Judge Anthony Mariani will be the new judge, because Tranquilli has been ordered not to hear any cases after he allegedly made a racially charged remark during a closed-door meeting involving an assistant district attorney and a defense attorney.

The victim returned from Southeast Asia last year to testify against Lang.

Lang was on the witness stand for nearly an hour during his trial, testifying in his own defense. He insisted he does not know the victim and never abused him.

Lang said he played no part in the June 2001 server camp at Saint Therese, his church at the time, during which the victim claims Lang took him to the basement, forced him to strip naked, photographed him and sexually abused him.

Lang said that during his 63 years as a priest, including as superintendent of Pittsburgh Catholic schools for most of the 1980s, he had contact with 10,000 children and never faced allegations of abusing anyone.

Lang denied knowing anything about the state grand jury report on child sex abuse by priests and denied he may be one of the eight priests whose names have been redacted from that report.

The prosecution questioned Lang about his iPad search history within days of the release of the grand jury report, searching for criminal defense attorneys, attorney general report and the word "pedophile." Lang insisted it had nothing to do with any concern that he could face charges.

Assistant District Attorney Greg Stein said the victim first told a friend about the assault when he was 14 and has been consistent since he came forward last year. Stein argued this was a crime of opportunity by someone who used his authority to intimidate his victim by threatening to show others the naked photo if he talked.

A spokesman for the DA's office said Lang was found guilty of:

  • Felony unlawful contact with a minor
  • Misdemeanor indecent assault (three counts)
  • Misdemeanor indecent exposure
  • Misdemeanor corruption of minors

Lang was found not guilty of two felonies: aggravated indecent assault, and sexual abuse of children - photographing, videotaping, depicting on computer or filming sexual acts.


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