Former Priest's History Shows Sexual Incident, Counseling

By Ann Rodgers-Melnick
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
July 21, 1994

A former Catholic priest who was charged last month with molesting six youths in Lawrence County was investigated and treated two years ago for "inappropriately touching" a boy in Swissvale.

After the Swissvale incident, the Rev. Edward Huff was not reassigned to parish ministry and spent most of his final year as a Catholic priest in a residential treatment center, said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the diocese.

His arrest stems from incidents during his pastorate at St. Anthony in Bessemer, Lawrence County, where Huff served before Swissvale.

Huff, 46, resigned from active ministry in February 1993. He was pastor of St. Anselm in Swissvale -- now a worship site of Word of God parish -- from June 1991 until February of 1992.

That February, Swissvale parishioners told diocesan officials that Huff had touched their son's leg inappropriately, although it was not a blatantly sexual act, Lengwin said.

On March 1, 1992, Huff was sent for evaluation to St. Michael's, a St. Louis treatment center for Catholic clergy with alcohol, drug and sexual disorders. He remained in treatment there until October 1992, Lengwin said.

On the recommendation of St. Michael's, Huff was given a diocesan assignment that November as a chaplain to other Catholic chaplains, with his residence at St. Mary of Mercy, Downtown, Lengwin said. Other priests at St. Mary were expected to monitor his activities, said Lengwin, who lives at St. Mary.

But on Dec. 18, 1992, the diocese received letters from parishioners at St. Anthony in Bessemer, Lawrence County, saying Huff had molested boys when he was pastor there from 1987 to 1991.

After meeting with three families on Jan. 6, 1993, Huff was removed from his assignment and sent back to St. Michael's. He quit the priesthood seven weeks later.

According to both Lengwin and the state police, the diocese then notified the Lawrence County district attorney and child protection officials about Huff. A meeting was held March 12, 1993.

The state police investigation began that day and charges were filed June 8, state police said. The 15-month delay was largely because investigators thought they might identify more victims, said State Trooper Wayne Disque, the investigating officer.

But if there were any, "either they didn't want to be involved or the statue of limitations had run out," he said.

Huff was arraigned June 22 on four counts each of attempted indecent assault and corruption of minors and one count of indecent assault. He is free on his own recognizance. The charges date from 1988 to 1990.

None of the families has filed suit against the diocese.

"The families indicated that they were less interested in litigation than in assuring nothing like this happened again," he said.

In March 1993, the diocese made public its revised guidelines for dealing with accusations of sexual misconduct against clergy. Those guidelines make it virtually impossible for a priest who has molested a child to get a diocesan assignment.


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