Late Priest Target of More Molesting Allegations

By Lawrence Messina
Charleston Gazette (West Virginia)
April 5, 1994

Two former altar boys allege a priest of the Wheeling-Charleston Roman Catholic diocese molested them in 1979 and 1980 in Massachusetts, where the priest had been sent to receive treatment for pedophilia.

The late Rev. Victor A. Frobas, who worked at a Catholic church in St. Albans in the 1960s, allegedly abused the former altar boys eight years before he was convicted for the first-degree sexual assault of two other boys at a parish in St. Louis.

Frobas has now either been alleged to have or been convicted of molesting boys in at least three states.

From Massachusetts, Barry Houle and Robert Malo are suing the diocese and its bishop, Bernard W. Schmitt, over the allegations.

Their Ohio Circuit Court Court lawsuit is the second filed there that names Frobas as a child molester.

Houle and Malo contend Frobas molested them while he served the St. Rose of Lima Church in Northborough, Mass., where they were altar boys. Frobas allegedly molested Houle when he was 16 in 1979, and Malo when he was 12 in 1980.

Frobas, then 41, was allegedly in Northborough seeking help at the House of Affirmation, a treatment center for priests. Malo and Houle are also suing the center, its former director and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester in a separate lawsuit.

A Wheeling man filed a lawsuit in September against Schmitt and the Wheeling-Charleston diocese, alleging Frobas sexually abused him. The man, identified only as "D.F.," contends Frobas molested him in 1977, while Frobas taught at Central Catholic High School in Wheeling. D.F. was a sophomore at the school, the suit said.

Both suits contend the diocese is liable because it placed Frobas in a position of trust and authority, yet knew or should have known he was a molester.

"If West Virginia did know he had a problem, they should have been honest with the people up here," Malo said from his home in Massachusetts. "Then this would never have happened to us, to our youth.

"I lost my entire teen years," Malo said of the experience.

"It's a nightmare you relive day after day after day."

Three other former altar boys are suing Catholic officials in Northborough alleging sexual abuse by Frobas, Malo said. Frobas may have molested as many as 26 altar boys, Malo said.

Frobas left the Wheeling-Charleston diocese in 1983. In 1988, he pleaded guilty to the first-degree sexual assault of two teen-age boys in a St. Louis parish in 1985.

Frobas received a four-year prison sentence. He died in July at age 55 in a St. Louis nursing home after serving two years of that sentence.

The Wheeling law firm representing D.F. ran a February newspaper ad requesting information about Frobas from 1965 and 1966, when he served St. Francis of Assisi church in St. Albans as an associate pastor.

Frobas also reportedly worked at the diocesan Camp Tygart in Randolph County, which hosts school-age children in the summer, before leaving the diocese


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