Cops: Sex Claim Inquiry Targets Hafey Priest
Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department Investigating Allegations Concerning the Rev. Christopher Clay, a Theology Instructor and Chaplain at Bishop Hafey Jr.; R. High School.

A Diocese of Scranton, Priest Is under Investigation by the Pocono Mountain Regional Police, Department Regarding Allegations He Had Sexual Contact with a Boy,, Said Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Gene Talerico

By Jolyn Resnick
Wilkes Barre Times Leader
May 2, 2002

The investigation is centering on the Rev. Christopher Clay, a chaplain and theology instructor at Bishop Hafey Jr./Sr. High School in Hazle Township. Clay has not been charged with a crime as of Wednesday night, Talerico said.

Talerico did not provide many details about the allegations, as the offense did not occur in Lackawanna County, but at the Society of St. John in Shohola Township, Pike County, and other places.

Talerico referred all questions regarding Clay to the police department.

As chaplain, Clay is in charge of religious services at the school and is the only priest in the facility.

Talerico said Lackawanna County is not taking part in the investigation. Talerico also would not disclose when the allegations were made or by whom. He said, however, that the Diocese's policy is to forward any reported sexual abuse by priests to his office.

Pocono Mountain Regional Police detectives were not available for comment Wednesday night. Clay did not return two calls for comment. Eight detailed messages left for Diocese officials, including Bishop James Timlin, also were not returned.

The Rev. Patrick McLaughlin, a member of the school's board of directors, declined to discuss Clay or whether Clay would be in school today.

Thomas Kostic, director of religious formation at the school, said he had no comment on the allegation or if Clay had been relieved of his duties. School Principal Michael Reese could not be reached for comment.

Brian Savage, 18, a Bishop Hafey senior, said Wednesday that he took a "theology and morals" class from Clay during his junior year.

"This is horribly unexpected," Savage said. "I know him as someone who takes an active interest in kids." Savage said Clay helped him with papers he was writing and that he sees the priest daily.

Savage said this is Clay's second year teaching at the school and that he had previously worked at Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg. Savage said he saw Clay at school on Wednesday.

The allegations against Clay come a month after two priests within the Diocese were accused in a federal lawsuit of having sexual contact with a male student of St. Gregory's Academy.

The student accused the Rev. Eric Ensey and the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity of abuse starting in the fall of 1997, when he was a junior. The man said he was repeatedly given alcohol and tobacco by Ensey and was coerced on several occasions to engage in "various homosexual acts" with Ensey.

The man also accused Urrutigoity of directing "inappropriate homosexual contact" toward him.


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