As one of the leading ancient religious institutions, the Roman Catholic Church has more than a billion members in its global congregation. The Church serves as a Christian ecclesiastical body guided by Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. Parishioners receive the instruction of Christian doctrine through clergy members, including Cardinals, Bishops, Pastors, Parish priests, deacons, brothers, sisters, and lay volunteers of parishes spreading the word.
However, over the last seven decades, at least fifty-six religious leaders in the Diocese of Allentown have been found with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor or young adult. Even though most predatory priests were in active ministry at the time, only a few were placed on administrative leave to remove them from the congregation. In all, abuse victims alleged that over 575 clergy members were guilty of sexual assault throughout Pennsylvania dioceses over seven decades.
The response from the Catholic Church was often nonexistent, where Church officials hid the information from parishioners and local law enforcement. Only in the last two decades has that public image changed when the media exposed the blatant and systematic attempts of the Parish priest or Diocese of Allentown Bishop tried to hide or minimize what occurred. Instead of helping the victim, the Church has often shunned or embarrassed the victim to ensure their silence.
Allentown Diocese Sexual Assault Attorney
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC provides advocacy legal assistance for victims of indecent assault in the Allentown religious community. With our years of experience, we use the law to protect our client’s rights and personal privacy. Our law firm remains committed to obtaining the maximum financial compensation our clients deserve. If you or your loved one is a catholic clergy abuse victim, we can handle every aspect of your case to ensure the legal action you take has a successful outcome.
With our years of experience, we have successfully resolved cases involving religious institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church, the Baptists Church, and others. We understand that the assault you endured creates long-lasting effects that shaped your close relationships, friendships, and your ability to trust others. Let us help you successfully resolve your case.
Victims Filing Civil Lawsuits
In November 2018, a twenty-nine-year-old alleged victim filed a civil lawsuit against the Diocese of Allentown and a former priest claiming the Reverend sexually assaulted him years ago. The incident involving Father Bruno Tucci allegedly occurred from the late 1990s until the early 2000s when the victim served the Nesquehoning, PA Mount Carmel Parish congregation as an altar boy.
At the time of the alleged sexual abuse, Reverend Tucci was working for the Diocese in Burks County and Lehigh County. Investigators found that Church officials were aware of the allegation involving inappropriate sexual contact with the boy. Even so, the Diocese allowed the priest to continue serving Church parishioners. The lawsuit seeks financial compensation to recover the victim’s financial, psychological, and emotional damages that arose from the abuse. This horrific event is not the first problem involving sexual abuse in the Allentown Diocese.
Sexual Assault Priests, Bishops & Other Clergy in the Diocese of Allentown
Baruch, John S.
The Diocese of Allentown credibly accused the Monsignor of sexual abuse involving a minor. The action disqualified the Reverend from priestly ministry at the diocese.
Current Status: Died 3/1995
Bender, Thomas J.
The church knew as early as 1972 that the priest had child predatory behavior. One victim reported in 1984 that Father Bender had abused him three years earlier while he was in seventh grade. Reverend Bender was convicted of abuse in 1988. Additional predatory-related arrests occurred years later.
Current Status: Released from prison 2014
Benestad, Thomas J.
A victim alleges that the Monsignor sexually abused him when he was nine years old. The Church never removed the priest from ministry but instead granted him retirement in Boca Raton, Florida.
Current Status: Retired 2009
Bonillo Margarito, Luis A.
A 2010 lawsuit revealed the chaplain at Reading Central Catholic High School allegedly seduced a 17-year-old student that led to her pregnancy and the birth of their child.
Current Status: Removed from the parish and defrocked
Cofena, Robert G.
Documents show that the church was aware in 1979 of Reverend Cofenas’s sexual attraction to young males but took no action. The priest’s victim was a 16-year-old boy who was “half-starved and in pretty bad shape.”
Current Status: Died 12/2013
In 2018, the PA Grand Jury found evidence of Reverend Connell drugging and raping a minor on multiple occasions and sexually assaulting the victim’s brother and others while on a camping trip. The accusations came years after the priest had died.
Current Status: Died 1995
Derzack, Thomas A.
Complaints were filed in 12/2019 involving Father Derzack, who took disturbing photographs that month of high school wrestlers during a tournament. The diocese began an investigation after confirming the police had questioned him at the gym and asked him to delete the photos from his device and leave.
Current Status: Suspended 12/2019
Fink, Felix C.
The diocese found credible evidence decades after the priest’s death that he participated in inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor.
Current Status: Died 1966
Flanagan, Bernard A.
The diocese announced that Father Flanagan had acted as a chaperone for an international trip involving Bishop McDevitt High School students that was unsanctioned by the church. The priest became a subject of alleged sexual abuse. Additional credible allegations of sexual abuse involving a minor date back 25 years at Reading Central Catholic High School.
Current Status: Removed from ministry 2010
Ford, Richard J.
Reports released by the US Navy revealed accusations that Father Ford sexually assaulted a 12-year-old student at Holy Guardian Angels Regional School (Oldenburg) in 1989. Navy officials state that the victim underwent mental health treatment, and the diocese never responded.
Current Status: Died 2005
Forish, Stephen T.
The diocese removed the priest from ministry in 2003 after accusations of multiple occasions of soliciting sex on the street, including offering a man money for sex in 1996 in Bethlehem. Police arrested Father Forish again in August 2006 for approaching a Westmoreland man to ask for sexual favors.
Current Status: Died 12/2006
Fromholzer, Francis (Frank) J.
Details of the diocesan report revealed that Father Fromholzer sexually abused two or more teenage students at Allentown Central Catholic High School in the 1960s. One incident involved an unsupervised car ride with two young girls who allege the priest groped them and touched one girl under her clothing. A lawsuit was filed in 2018 against the diocese.
Current Status: Retired 2002
Gaffney, James F.
In January 2019, a female victim filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking more than $100,000 in damages due to psychological trauma involving threats and harassment by Father Gaffney in a case of sexual abuse in the 1990s when she was a 16-year-old student at Reading Central Catholic High School. Credible allegations concerning the priest involving sexually inappropriate behavior were known as early as 2002.
Current Status: Remove from Ministry 2002 Laicized: 2015
Galko, Joseph D.
The church first became aware of Father Galko’s predatory practices in 1984 after his admission of engaging in sex with an 18-year-old parishioner. Multiple victims came forward from 2002 to 2007 involving sexual abuse with minors, including an incident at Saint Anne’s in Bethlehem. However, the church never filed formal charges.
Current Status: Defrocked 2010
Ganster, Edward G.
Numerous victims came forward in 2002, 2005, and 2015. One victim stated Father Ganster abused him for over a year when he was 14 years old and an altar boy at St. Joseph’s (Frackville). A second victim stated he was abused by the Reverend in the summer of 1977 when he was 12 years old. The Father asked to leave the priesthood in 1990 to marry a woman, which the church granted. Afterward, Ganster was employed for eighteen years at Walt Disney World.
Current Status: Died 2014
Gillespie, Francis T.
Two brothers accused Father Gillespie of sexual abuse while at St. Joseph’s Parish in Girardville between 1959 and 1963. One victim stated the priest gave them alcohol and cold medicine that made his memory is fuzzy. However, the victim woke up and found himself naked in bed with the priest. The church allowed the priest to retire with full benefits in 2002.
Current Status: Died 2017
Gillis, David C.
In 2018, the diocese reinstated Father Gillis after allegations of sexual abuse after a witness recanted her accusation of sexual abuse by Gillis. Law enforcement could find no substantiating evidence of the accusation.
Current Status: Reinstated to Active Ministry Orlando Diocese 9/2018
Guilianni/Guiliani, Richard J.
In 2004, a victim claimed Reverend Giuliani forced her to perform sexual acts during the early 1970s while at Notre Dame High School when she was twelve years old. The victim stated she reported the abuse twice to church authorities and was told to go to confession. The priest visited the victim while she was at College in 1975 and proposed marriage. She refused. A second victim alleged the priest molested her in December 1976 while she attended Cardinal Brennan High School, where he worked as the principal.
Current Status: Retired with full benefits 2002
Graff, Edward R.
In October 2002, Father Graff was arrested and charged with one count of sexual abuse of a child while he served had multiple churches for the Diocese of Amarillo. Initially, the diocese said he resigned due to the zero-tolerance of sexual abuse policies involving priests. However, the church later recanted what they said and restated he resigned due to his health and age.
Current Status: Presume dead
Halabura, Stephen J.
Reverend Halabura self-reported incidents of abuse in the early 1980s at Saint Anthony of Padua (Millmont) just before he retired in 2008. The church removed the priest Ministry in 2019.
Current Status: Law enforcement notified 2019
Houseknecht, Leo J.
The diocese found credible evidence years after the Houseknecht’s death that he participated in inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor. A victim filing a lawsuit (2004) alleged that the priest inappropriately hugged her while at her home visiting her family, with his penis erect.
Current Status: Died 1990
Hulko, Joseph D.
Father Hulko admitted to church officials in August 2003 he sexually abused an underage girl while serving as a chaplain at St. Francis Orphanage in Orwigsburg in 1971. Evidence shows that the girl was 14 years old at the time and that the inappropriate sexual behavior occurred as much as two times a week for about a year.
Current Status: Removed from ministry 2003
Jones, William E.
In 2002, the diocese dismissed Monsignor William Jones after credible allegations of sexually abusing a minor two decades ago surfaced the previous week. A lawsuit was filed in 2004 by a 39-year-old Schuylkill victim who said the priest started sexually abusing him when he was 14 years old and an altar boy at St. Vincent de Paul in Minersville. The court dismissed the lawsuit the following year.
Current Status: Died 5/2004
Kean, Joseph H.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grant Jury Report found credible evidence that Reverend Kean had abused a young boy for several years beginning in 1992 when the child was 12 years of age. At that time, Kean was serving as pastor of SS Peter and Paul (Tower City). The priest admitted abusing the victim and the victim’s friend. Additional victims were identified in secret archives held by the diocese. Two other victims came forward to verify the abusive behavior of the priest. One victim became addicted to heroin and deals with suicidal ideation. The priest retired from service in 2002.
Current Status: Laicized 2007
Kerestus, Thomas J.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report provided credible evidence that Reverend Thomas Kerestus sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy for over five years during the late 1980s when the priest was pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Allentown. Even though the Church hushed the accusation, church officials removed Kerestus from service in 2002 and reported the allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior to law enforcement.
Current Status: Died 2014
Kopec, Bronislaus J.
The diocese found credible evidence years after the priest’s death that he participated in inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor.
Current Status: Died 6/1968
Kuzmann, Robert J.
The diocese removed Reverend Kuzmann in 2006 following allegations of sexual abuse. The priest had been formally assigned to St. Jerome’s in Tamaqua and Marian Catholic High School.
Current Status: Laicized 2015
Lawrence, Michael S.
In the early 1970s, the Catholic Church had concerns about the priest’s behavior that was verified in 2002. A victim alleged the priest sexually assaulted him when he was twelve years old in 1982 at Saint Catherine of Siena in Mount Penn while being tutored. After telling his parents, the father informed the diocese and met with church officials the next day. The priest admitted to the allegation and was sent for treatment at St. John Vianney in Downingtown but returned to the parish a year later. After receiving complaints from the victim, the church reassigned Reverend Lawrence to the diocesan Tribunal until his retirement in 1998. The family filed a civil suit in 2004.
Current Status: Died 4/2015
In 2018, Lonergan was charged with misdemeanor indecent assault and felony corruption of minors after allegations arose that he groped a seventeen-year-old girl and sent her nude photographs of himself. Evidence shows that the priest reportedly met the victim at St. Francis of Assisi in Allentown and had asked others for her cell phone number. Father Lonergan pled guilty to the charges in November 2019 and could receive two years in jail and might be ordered to register as a sex offender.
Current Status: The case is under review at the Vatican
Margarito, Luis A. Bonilla
In 2009, the diocese placed Reverend Margarito on leave after he had admitted to recently engaging in an inappropriate sexual relationship with an eighteen-year-old girl. At that time, the forty-year-old priest was pastor of St. Joseph Church and reading and worked as the Central Catholic High School chaplain since June 2008.
Current Status: Sent to treatment
Maslar, William J.
The diocese found credible evidence years after Reverend Maslar’s death that he participated in inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor.
Current Status: Died 2005
Mathis, Joseph L.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Monsignor Mathis. The Monsignor remained at Our Lady Help of Christian’s Parish until his death and worked at Allentown State Hospital as a chaplain until 1975.
Current Status: Died 1981
McHale, James J.
In May 2009, a woman in Delaware filed a lawsuit alleging that Reverend McHale, who served in Allentown, started abusing her 1964 when she was twelve years old that continued until 1984. She reports that the priest frequently took her on trips to nearby states and Rome, Italy. The accuser states she told church officials in 1991 numerous times, but no action was taken. The judge dismissed her lawsuit, citing the Delaware court had no jurisdiction.
Current Status: 1997
McNeils, Francis Joseph
In 1992, a man notified the diocese that he had been sexually abused by Reverend McNelis in 1968 when he was a 10- to 13-year-old altar boy. Church officials sent the priest to New Mexico for treatment before reassigning him to Saint Ignatius parish (Sinking Spring) in 1994 until he was removed in March 2002. In 2004, another victim reported Father McNelis sexually abused him on two occasions in 1968 when he was sixteen years old.
Current Status: Unknown
Mihalak, James J.
In 1997, Reverend Mihalak was charged with fondling an underage male hitchhiker. In 1998, the court system placed the priest on probation with the potential of expunging the felony record if the completed probation was successful. Mihalak, a former pastor, high school principal, and teacher, was suspended from duties.
Current Status: Whereabouts unknown
Mraz, John Stephen
In 2016, a parishioner working on the priest’s two computers found photographs involving nudes of small boys and told church officials. The diocese informed the District Attorney’s Office, who took the images from the laptops before Monsignor Mzar admitted he had been searching for child pornography. Mraz was charged two months later with possession of child pornography, selling obscene materials, and criminal use of a communication facility. Church officials told the parishioners that Mraz was leaving for a month due to “medical issues.” The court stated at the priest’s sentencing that for the next fifteen years, Mraz must register as a sex offender.
Current Status: Sentenced to twenty-three months in jail
Nave, Francis A.
The diocese suspended Monsignor Nave, who served as pastor of Sacred Heart in Bath from ministry after accusations of sexually inappropriate behavior arose in 2018. The victim alleges that in 2012 the priest encouraged him at sixteen years old to masturbate while Nave was online at a video “counseling” session. The victim contacted law enforcement and filed a lawsuit that was settled in 2018. The victim reportedly captured screenshots of the priest strip naked and masturbating online.
Current Status: Unknown
Patil, Gabriel M.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Reverend Patil. In 2014, two separate suits were filed in Allentown that allege the priest sexually abused the boys when they were 7 to 9 years old in 1978/80, while Patil was at Bethlehem Catholic High School. In 2005, the courts dismissed both cases.
Current Status: Returned to India
Potts, Robert J.
In October 2019, the diocese publicly named Reverend Potts of accusations of sexually assaulting a minor in the 1980s and 1990s while serving as pastor at St. George’s in Shenandoah. The church removed Potts from ministry while the investigation was ongoing. The victim had reported the allegation to the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), which in turn notified the Diocese of Allentown.
Current Status: Removed from ministry
Puza, Paul G.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Puza. A former seminarian informed the diocese in 1991 that Puza sexually assaulted him three times while he was in the eighth grade. The priest admitted to sexually assaulting the underage child but stated it happened only once when the child was a high school senior. The priest told the therapist that he had “quite a bit of male and female involvement.” In 1995, an eighteen-year-old high school student reported that Puza had engaged in sexual conduct with him. In 2002, the priest admitted he engaged in “sexual misconduct” with underage children. In 2002, he resigned as pastor of Saint Richard’s in Barnesville.
Current Status: Laicized 2010
Rigney, Dennis A.
In April 1987, the diocese became aware that Rigney had fondled an underage girl. In 1989, a complainant reported that the priest had fired a Nurse Aide at Holy Family Manor for resisting his sexual advances. In 2002, a woman told church officials that the reverend had molested her in 1966/67 for over a year when she was between nine and ten years of age. At that time, Rigney was assigned to St. Peter’s in Reading. The victim stated that the priest also sexually assaulted her sister. In 2002, the priest requested early retirement due to “medical reasons.” A lawsuit was filed in 2004 alleging abuse of a nine-year-old girl.
Current Status: Retired
Rock, Joseph A.
In 1986, the diocese received two reports that Reverend Rock had sexual contact with three boys in the early 1980s. One boy was nine years of age. After receiving the reports, the church sent Rock on “sick leave” and reassigned him in 1987 to a clergy retirement home. In 1992, the priest admitted to fondling the boys’ genitals after another allegation arose. In 1994, a twenty-year-old man filed a lawsuit claiming that the church had failed to protect him from abuse by the priest when he was a child of 9 to 12 years of age at Rock in Mount Carbon. The diocese settled with the victim for $305,000 in 2000, another report of past sexual abuse arose involving a boy that revealed the priest was also accused of sexual abuse of an elementary boy between 1979 and 1981. A lawsuit filed in 2019 accused Rock of abusing a thirteen-year-old girl that continued for eleven years.
Current Status: Resigned 11/2001
Royer, Gerald J.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Father Royer. The church transferred Royer eight times in the first eight years after his ordination then placed him on a leave of absence in 1955/56 and again in 1960/61. In 2009, an alleged victim reported that Reverend Royer sexually assaulted him when he was a boy in the 1960s. In 2016, an eighty-one-year-old alleged victim said that the priest had sexually assaulted him in 1947 when he was an eleven-year-old altar boy at SS. Simon and Jude in West Bethlehem.
Current Status: Died 12/2003
Ruffenach, Charles J.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Father Ruffenach. In 2001, a possible victim told the church that Ruffenach had physically and sexually assaulted him starting about 1985 when he was a first-grade boy at St. John the Baptist school. The victimization occurred through the boy’s eighth-grade year.
Current Status: Died 1980
Sabas, John P./ John Pascal
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Sabas. It was alleged that the priest sexually assaulted at least one underage child in the summer of 1964. The alleged victim notified the church in 1974 when Joseph McShea was Bishop. In 1979, the priest’s accuser found out that the Reverend was still working at the parish and filed a lawsuit against the Allentown Diocese and Sabas that was settled out of court two years later for $40,000. The church told the man numerous times that he had been the priest’s only victim.
Current Status: Died 1996
The diocese suspended Monsignor Sacks in September 2018 after an allegation arose that he sexually assaulted a Holy Name High School student in Reading, PA. Sacks had been assigned as Vice-Principal (65/68) and then Principal (74/79) at the high school. In addition to denying the allegation, the priest stated it was “a case of mistaken identity.” The church reinstated Sacks a few weeks later after his accuser said that he had made a mistake in accusing the priest.
Current Status: Reinstated to ministry
Shields, William J.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Shields. In March 2004, a lawsuit was filed against the diocese. The suit alleges that in 1974, Shields sexually assaulted a twelve-year-old altar boy after inviting the child into the Saint Anne’s in Lansford rectory and molesting him after bingo night. The child reportedly fled the rectory and told his mother and a parish deacon what happened. The church relocated Shields three months later. In March 2004, another man alleged that Shields sexually assaulted him at the parish three decades earlier. The priest retired in 1995.
Current Status: Died 8/2000
Shigo, Stephen F.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Father Shigo. In November 2011, the diocese became aware that Shigo had sexually assaulted an eighth or ninth grade Saint Ambrose altar boy in 1981 when the priest was assigned to the parish.
Current Status: Died 1991 at 38 years old
Soderlund, David A.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Soderlund. The priest was accused of sexually assaulting three boys between the ages of twelve and thirteen years old. Photographs were found of the priest engaging in sexual acts with boys. Soderlund admitted to the sexual activity and was removed for treatment and sent to St. John Vianney before being reassigned in 1981 as a parish pastor with restrictions not to have contact with minors. The church reassigned Soderlund to another parish the following year, where he abused another boy. The church removed Soderlund in 1989 for violating restrictions of having a young altar boy and making calls to him. The priest appealed this case to the Vatican, and his rights were restored. A 2004 lawsuit alleges that several priests, including Soderlund, had covered up abuse. Wyoming law enforcement arrested Soderlund in 2009, where he was convicted of child pornography/child exploitation and sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Current Status: Laicized: 2005 Registered as a sex offender in Wyoming
Strassner, Henry E.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving the Very Reverend Strassner. In 1988, when the church confronted the priest on allegations of inappropriate behavior, he admitted to kissing the nineteen-year-old male four times on the lips while “counseling.” The church reported the priest underwent counseling that revealed there was “a lot more going on here than Father Strassner has admitted.” In 1991, two additional complaints arose involving past child sexual assault including a 6-year-old to an 8-year-old boy. The church placed the priest on sick leave between 8/1993 and 2/1994. In 2001, the priest was accused of making sexual advances toward a thirty-one-year-old male during counseling. Additional accusations arose with numerous victims. The Very Reverend Strassner retired in 2003.
Current Status: 11/2009
In 2018. a Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Reverend Tucci. In 1991, a man came forward accusing Tucci of sexual assault while he served as an altar boy when he was fourteen years old. The priest admitted to the allegations. The church sent Tucci for treatment. Upon return, he was reassigned as pastor of two Nesquehoning parishes. In 2002, the priest resigned. That same year, another victim reported Father Tucci sexually abuse him when he was a minor in 1977/78. In 2012, the priest was arrested on charges that he took an underage boy to Ocean City, Maryland from Pennsylvania and molested him in 1981. A lawsuit was filed in 2018 of abuse occurring in 1999 through 2001 involving an altar boy between the age of ten and twelve. The case was settled out of court.
Current Status: Believed to be living in Salisbury, Maryland
Uhrig, A. Gregory
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Reverend Uhrig. The priest served the Diocese of Allentown for two decades working in numerous parishes and various diocese positions. Seventeen years after being reassigned to Metuchen, NJ diocese in 1993, the Allentown diocese notified the Metuchen Bishop of sexual allegations involving Uhrig dating back about three decades. A 44-year-old possible victim alleged Uhrig sexually assaulted her over four years beginning when she was thirteen in the 7th grade at Saint Anthony’s in Easton. Uhrig denied sexually abusing the victim. While the priest has been reassigned to retirement in Somerset NJ, a Whitehouse Station, NJ parish bulletin shows that he assists with weekend masses.
Current Status: Likely retired
Ulincy, Andrew Aloysius
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Reverend Ulincy. In September 2010, the church removed Ulincy from the ministry after credible allegations arose that he had sexually assaulted an underage child in 1991 while at Simon’s and Jude’s in Bethlehem. In 1981, a juvenile male reported to the police that the priest had sexually propositioned him. The Reverend admitted to the allegation and was placed on sick leave between December 1981 and February 1982. The victim stated that Reverend Ulincy provided him alcohol before fondling his penis and penetrating him anally. In the 1990s, a twenty-five-year-old victim who worked at the rectory at St. Joseph’s and Franksville stated that Ulincy exposed himself in front of the worker. The church compensated the victim with $2,500 and removed the priest from the parish.
Current Status: Died 10/2016
Yarrosh, Ronald J.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Reverend Yarrosh in 2004. Police arrested the priest on charges of possessing “an enormous amount” of child porn. The church removed Yarrosh from his assignment and sent him for treatment and evaluation at St. John Vianney Hospital. The diocese was aware that the priest had “personality problems” Father Yarrosh also faced accusations of embezzlement. In 2005, the priest pleaded guilty in return for a sentence of up to twenty-three months in prison, twenty months parole, ten years’ probation and a fine of $25,000 for restitution. However, after leaving St. John Vianney Hospital, he was found in New York City with a seven-year-old child and pornography. Reverend Yarrosh was sentenced to 4 to 10 years in prison and must register and Pennsylvania as a sex offender.
Current Status: Possibly still in prison
Zmijewski, Joseph A.
The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report found conclusive evidence of sexual abuse involving Reverend Zmijewski. In October 2004, a woman accused the priest of sexual assault during the 1950s when she was in the ninth grade at St. Peter’s in Reading. The victim stated she went to see the priest for counseling, where he proposed to hypnotize her at his residence. The victim feigned her response after being “hypnotized,” when the priest made her strip naked. The victim states that Zmijewski left her alone in the room for a few minutes before returning and telling her to get dressed.
Current Status: Died 1968
Zolondek, John G.
The diocese found credible evidence years after Zolondek’s death that the priest participated in inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor.
Current Status: Deceased
A Failure to Accept Responsibility in the Diocese of Allentown
Over the last two decades, the Roman Catholic Church has created international headlines involving cases of sexual misconduct among their clergy. Church officials from around the world were exposed to their failure to accept responsibility for reporting cases involving victims of sexual abuse in their congregation.
Changes made by Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II help create a safer environment for parishioners. Only recently have investigators and the court exposed what was going on. As a result of the media’s publishing of a list of predatory priests in active ministry, retired, deceased, or on administrative leave, sexual abuse victims are beginning to take legal action. Many of these civil suits seeking compensation from the Roman Catholic Church and abuser were filed long after the statute of limitations expired.
Diocese of Allentown Creates Compensation Program
In 2018, the Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed the investigation results of the long-hidden sexual abuse history in the Catholic Church that occurred at six dioceses statewide. The grand jury investigation focused its attention Diocesan clergy with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. The investigation took place in Erie, Greensburg, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Allentown.
In 2017, a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer stated that the Diocese of Greenberg and Diocese of Harrisburg tried to stop grand jury investigators from proceeding forward. The following year, an Allentown Diocese spokesperson stated their Church officials would cooperate with the ruling from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to publish every name identified as a sexual abuser.
The Diocese of Allentown Bishop has worked to fulfill a commitment to establish an independent compensation reconciliation program to provide financial assistance to sexual assault survivors who were harmed by the clergy. However, the grand jury found that the Allentown Diocese had an institutional failure that led to the endangerment of vulnerable children.
Typically, the Diocese or the priest’s religious order never notified law enforcement of the sexual assault that occurred. Without the release of the grand jury report, many of these molestation cases involving religious leaders, lay volunteers of the Diocese, or lay employees of parishes would have never come to light.
Hiring an Allentown Diocese Sexual Abuse Attorney
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC protects victims injured by Catholic Bishops, priests, deacons, brothers, nuns, and sisters. We ensure our clients receive justice while seeking the compensation they require to heal. If you or your loved one is a sexual abuse survivor, our legal team is here to stand with you. Let us discuss your case in a confidential setting and provide legal advice on how to pursue a civil suit to move your case forward.
Seeking financial compensation to recover from the abuse will ensure that others are protected from the predatory priest that caused your harm. While holding the Church and abuser accountable will never take away the memories, you could regain the trust you lost in your innocence. Our legal team has obtained more than $250 million in a slew of lawsuits on behalf of our clients, and we can help you too.