Molestation Charges against D.c.-Area Priest Linked to Pittston
The Rev. Paul Lavin, an Area Native, Allegedly Molested a Boy in the 1970s Locally

By Mark Guydish
Wilkes Barre Times Leader
July 13, 2002

A priest sex scandal in the Washington, D.C., area reached into Luzerne County on Friday.

The Rev. Paul Lavin, an area native, allegedly molested a juvenile at his grandmother's house here in the early 1970s.

Lavin allegedly molested the 16-year-old boy during a trip from the Washington area to St. Pius X Seminary in Dalton, with one incident occurring during an overnight stay at the house of Lavin's grandmother.

The Pittston allegation was made Wednesday. Lavin denied the charges but was relieved of duty Thursday, as per policy, said Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington.

The case started in the Washington area, where Lavin has been a priest since his ordination in 1969, but it was referred to Pittston police because the grandmother supposedly lived there, said Luzerne County District Attorney Dave Lupas.

Pittston police could find no connection to that city - the alleged victim has not been able to provide a specific address for the grandmother's house, Lupas said - so the case was turned over to the county.

The case's age makes investigation and prosecution difficult, if not impossible, Lupas said. Maryland has no statute of limitations for sex abuse charges. But in Pennsylvania the chance for criminal charges ends within five years in most cases.

The story hit the pages of the Washington Post on Friday. It was reported that Lavin was accused of molestation by two separate men.

One accusation came in 1997, when a man from Ellicott City, Md., said he was molested by Lavin when he was 8. Gibbs said police investigated but filed no charges. The archdiocese also sent Lavin for an evaluation, and professionals determined he could return to work.

The more recent accusation was made by George Kresslein of Annandale, Va., who said he was 16 when he traveled to Pennsylvania with Lavin.

Kresslein, now 45, said Lavin picked him up in a white Ford LTD and joked that the initials stood for "Lavin Travels Delightfully," the Post reported. They drove to Pittston, where they stayed overnight at the home of Lavin's grandmother.

Kresslein said that at bedtime Lavin asked for a hug, then pulled Kresslein into bed and started caressing him and asking him to perform oral sex, according to the Post. Kresslein said he refused.

Gibbs said Lavin attended college in Kentucky and went to a New York seminary before being ordained a priest in 1969. He has served since then in the Washington Archdiocese.

Lavin has no connections with the Diocese of Scranton, spokeswoman Maria Orzel said, and law enforcement officials have not contacted the diocese.



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