Priests and the Accusations

Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
January 14, 2004

Five lawsuits filed against the Allentown Catholic Diocese list six priests that the plaintiffs allege sexually abused them.

They are:

Monsignor William E. Jones, 69, former vicar of Southern Schuylkill Deanery. Served as pastor of St. Patrick's, Pottsville, 1983-2002. Former pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, Minersville, ('78-'83); St. Joseph's, Summit Hill ('75-'78). Served at St. Ambrose, Schuylkill Haven, and St. Jane Frances de Chantal, formerly in Wilson. Taught at Notre Dame High School, Bethlehem Township, in 1970s. In April 2002, was removed from office by Bishop Edward P. Cullen after an allegation he abused a minor in the 1980s. No longer an active priest. In lawsuit, Scott Greis of Schuylkill County alleges Jones fondled him and performed oral sex on him on numerous occasions, beginning in 1978. On one occasion, according to the lawsuit, Jones and another priest performed oral sex on Greis and several other boys on a trip to Jones' home in Tower City, Schuylkill County.

Rev. Michael S. Lawrence, 56, formerly of St. Catharine of Siena, Mount Penn, Berks County. Taught at Allentown Central Catholic High ('77-'78) and Notre Dame High ('84). Served at St. Anthony of Padua, Easton; Immaculate Conception, Jim Thorpe; and St. Paul's, Allentown. Was a member of the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal in February 2002, when he was dismissed by Bishop Edward P. Cullen for allegedly molesting a 12-year-old boy at St. Catharine's in the early 1980s. At time of dismissal was chaplain to the nuns at the Carmelite Monastery in Coopersburg. No longer an active priest. In lawsuit, a man identified as John Doe alleges Lawrence directed him in August 1982 to remove his pants and underwear to describe changes that were happening to his body during puberty. Lawrence then began to touch and pull John Doe's genitals and buttocks.

Monsignor Dennis A. Rigney, 63, former president and chief executive officer of Holy Family Manor, Bethlehem, and director of the Diocesan Services and Housing for the Elderly office. Over 36 years, he also was director of Catholic Charities, head of the Catholic Social Agency and director of Kennedy House and the Spanish Apostolate in Reading. Was assistant pastor of St. Peter's, Reading ('66-'74). Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, Allentown, ('87-'02) when he retired because of health problems. No longer an active priest. In lawsuit, a woman identified as A.L.M. alleges Rigney took her swimming at Lake Wynonah, Schuylkill County, and fondled her. The lawsuit also alleges Rigney kissed A.L.M. on numerous other occasions and petted her on various parts of her body.

Rev. Francis J. Fromholzer, 72, teacher at Allentown Central Catholic ('59-'65). Served at Holy Ghost, Bethlehem; St. Peter's, Coplay; and St. Francis of Assisi, Allentown ('59-'65). Served at St. Mary's, Hamburg ('70-'75). Named pastor of St. Paul's, Reading, in '75. Former assistant pastor of St. Peter's, Coplay ('92-'95). Resided at St. Paul's, Allentown ('95-'02). Agreed to leave assignment in September 2002 because of abuse allegation. No longer an active priest. In lawsuit, Juliann Bortz of Lower Macungie Township alleges that Fromholzer sexually abused her by kissing and fondling her on a daily basis in the school basement at Central Catholic High School in October 1965. Lawsuit also alleges Fromholzer kissed Bortz and fondled her over several hours on trip to the Poconos in September 1965.

Rev. Richard Guiliani, 61, a resident of St. Vincent de Paul, Girardville, in 1974. Taught religion and was disciplinarian at Notre Dame High School in Bethlehem Township in the 1970's. Left priesthood in 1977. In lawsuit, Patricia Beaumont alleges Guiliani forced her to perform sexual acts on numerous occasions from 1971 to 1975 while Beaumont, then Patricia Spirk, attended Notre Dame. Beaumont alleges Guiliani visited her in college in 1975, took her out for dinner and asked her to marry him. When she refused, Guiliani never contacted her again, according to the lawsuit.

Rev. Leo Houseknecht, pastor Immaculate Conception, Kelayres, Schuylkill County, when he died at age 53 in 1990. Served as pastor at St. Joseph's, Pottsville. Taught at Reading Central Catholic, Nativity BVM High, Pottsville, Notre Dame, Bethlehem Township, and Marian Catholic, Hometown. In lawsuit, Patricia Beaumont alleges Houseknecht and Monsignor William E. Jones spoke to her using crude/sexual language and Houseknecht inappropriately hugged her while visiting her family in her home.



This is a sidebar to 'Allentown Diocese covered up abuse systematically, suits say' that appeared on A1.


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