Category: Sex

Fr. David Dobrowolski – Diocese of Erie

Father David V. Dobrowolski

Diocese of Erie

Fr. Dave Dobrowolski Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1969

Death: 1985

Assigned as follows:

  • 1969 – 1972 St. Andrew’s (Erie, PA)
  • 1972 – 1978 Kennedy Christian High School (Sharon, PA)
  • 1972 – 1973 Good Shepherd (West Middlesex, PA)
  • 1973 – 1978 St. Adalbert’s (Farrell, PA)
  • 1978 – 1985 Harborcreek School for Boys (Harborcreek, PA) and Gannondale (Girls)

Summary of Allegations against Father David V. Dobrowolski:

Father David V. Dobrowolski was first publicly identified as an accused priest on the Diocese of Erie’s April 2018 list of credibly accused priests.  All the Diocese of Erie has said about the allegation(s) against Dobrowolski is that it/they were made after his death in 1985.

Dobrowolski was not identified or discussed in the August 2018 grand jury report.

Dobrowolski died in 1985 as a priest in good standing and in active ministry at a high school.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Erie now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

 

Fr. Chester “Chet” Gawronski – Diocese of Erie

Reverend Chester “Chet” Gawronski

Diocese of Erie

Fr. Chester Gawronski Horowitz Law  Chester Gawronski Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1976

Leave of Absence: 1987 – 1988

Removed from ministry: 2002

Laicized: 2006

Assigned as follows:

  • 1976 – 1978 St. Joseph (Oil City, PA)
  • 1978 – 1979 St. Bernard (Bradford, PA)
  • 1979 – 1987 St. Agatha (Meadville, PA)
  • 1979 – 1987 St. Bernadette (Saegertown, PA)
  • 1988 – 1990 St. Patrick (Erie, PA)
  • 1990 – 1992 St. Patrick and St. Hedwig (Erie, PA)
  • 1993 – 1995 St. Patrick and St. Hedwig (Erie, PA)
  • 1995 – 2002 St. Ann (Erie, PA)

Summary of Allegations against Reverend Chester J. Gawronski:

According to the grand jury report, in August 1986 the Diocese of Erie was notified that Father Chester Gawronski fondled and masturbated a 13 year old boy on multiple occasions from 1976 to 1977.  

In early 1987, multiple sets of parents reported similar sexual abuse of their sons.  According to internal documents reviewed by the grand jury, when contemplating the number of possible victims, an unidentified Chancery official said, “my guess is we would be counting fifteen or twenty over the years.”  Gawronski had a modus operandi of molesting boys under the guise of checking the private areas of their body for cancer.  The victims were so prolific that Diocese of Erie documents simply reference “cancer checks” when describing the nature of the abuse, since apparently anyone in the Chancery would know what was meant by that reference.   

Other documents recorded the identities of families potentially affected by Gawronski’s abuse – and also recorded the identities of which families were likely to go to police or media.  A letter to the family of one 13 year-old victim even cautioned them to “refrain from probing for any more information about past events as it may raise undue concern and attention on the part of people who aren’t involved.”  Others were cautioned to exercise “discretion.” Fr. Glenn Witman, the Secretary for Clergy Personnel during that time period, told one family, “I can’t stress enough the necessity for discretion in this matter. It is obvious at this time that legal action isn’t pending, or being considered.  Undue attention or publication of this information to other families, or other priests, would be harmful and certainly unnecessary.” Simply put, the message was: stop talking to anyone – including priests – about what happened immediately.

When confronted with the allegations in February 1987, Gawronski himself provided the Diocese of Erie with a list of forty-one potential victims, many of whom he abused under the guise of “teaching them to check for cancer”:

Gawronski list of victims

According to the Diocese of Erie’s secret archive files on Gawronski, he admitted to “numerous instances of sexual abuse” in April 1987 as well.  He was sent for inpatient evaluation and treatment in Chicago. Despite denying that he had a problem sexually abusing boys at the treatment center, even though he had sometimes abused more than one child in a single family, he was cleared to return to ministry and reassigned.

The Diocese of Erie received even more reports (plural) in 1988.  

Still, Gawronski remained in ministry at St. Patrick.

In 1995, Bishop Donald Trautman personally heard from a man who said that he was molested by Gawronski as a 15 year old boy in 1986.  

He assigned Gawronski to St. Ann in Erie that same year.

Despite all of these complaints – and Gawronski’s own admissions of guilt – Gawronski remained in ministry until 2002.  Then, all of the sudden in January 2002, the scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston became regular and national news.  The Pennsylvania bishops got nervous. As with dozens of other priests across the state, Gawronski was suddenly removed from ministry in February 2002.

In response to questions about the Boston scandal, Bishop Trautman told reporters that no accused priests were in ministry and that he had never reassigned anyone who had been accused of sexual abuse during his time as bishop.  Clearly, that was a lie.

In response to the statement, one of the 1987 victims wrote to Trautman and called him to account for the statement in light of Gawronski.  Trautman shamed the man for challenging him and for sharing his story in the media, rather than with the Bishop privately.

In 2004, much like bishops across Pennsylvania that year, Bishop Trautman asked the Vatican to laicize Gawronski.  In support of the laicization petition, Trautman included a list of 44 children that were known to the Diocese of Erie to have been abused by Gawronski.

Gawronski is still alive and believed to be residing in Sahuarita, Arizona.  He is approximately 65-70 years old. Many of his Facebook followers still refer to him as “Father Chet.”  

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Erie now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr. John P. Schanz – Diocese of Erie

Father John P. Schanz
Diocese of Erie

Fr John P Schanz Horowitz Law

Ordained: May 1950
Retired: October 1996
Withdrawn from ministry: April 2002
Death: April 2010

Assigned as follows:

  • 6/05/1950 – 09/01/1950: Temporary Parochial Administrator, St. Elizabeth, Smethport, PA
  • 9/01/1950 – 10/01/1996: Faculty; Professor of Theology, Gannon University, Erie, PA
  • 9/01/1950 – 10/01/1996: Weekend Assistant, Holy Cross, Fairview, PA
  • 6/13/1960 – 10/01/1996: Regional Director of the College Branch of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Gannon College, Mercyhurst College & Villa Maria College
  • 4/06/1962: Examiner of Junior Clergy of the Diocese of Erie
  • 3/08/1967: Appointed as Advocate of the Tribunal of the Diocese of Erie
  • 5/14/1969: Advocate of the Tribunal of the Diocese of Erie
  • 10/01/1996 – 4/17/2002: Retires from Gannon University to a private residence
  • 4/17/2002: Withdraws from Priestly Ministry and removed of any faculties

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father John P. Schanz:

Based on information provided by the Diocese of Erie in response to a grand jury subpoena, a victim wrote a letter to Bishop Donald Trautman (1990-2012) regarding Father John P. Schanz. In the letter, the victim detailed an assault which occurred in 1969 or 1970 when he was going into seventh or eighth grade and was an altar boy at St. Andrew and The Villa.

According to the victim, he met John Philip Schanz, who invited him to his apartment and began to wrestle the boy and grab his body. When the victim asked his older brother, who was a Gannon College student at the time if he knew of Schanz, his brother began to laugh and remarked: “you mean the one who likes little boys?”

Trautman wrote that he reviewed the actions which had been taken for the removal of Schanz, a teacher at Gannon University and later stated that he himself had removed Schanz from the active ministry. Trautman also noted that the victim was still bothered by the incident of abuse and that Trautman had assured him of “our help & guidance.” Trautman noted in these documents that the victim suffered from a troubled marriage, anxiety, nightmares, and guilt regarding the incident with Schanz.

A Second Victim of Father Schanz

In a letter from 2002, a second victim wrote that in the early 1970’s he had attended a Gannon University basketball game and was approached by Schanz who asked the victim if he would like to go to all of the games, to which the victim replied that he would. According to the victim, after the games, they would go to Schanz’ s apartment at the rectory, where Schanz always wanted to drink and wrestle.

The victim was 12 or 13 years of age at the time.

The victim went on to note that he was writing the letter from prison. He stated that he was incarcerated as a result of crimes that he had committed under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He attributed his substance abuse problem to the sexual abuse that he had endured at
the hands of Schanz years prior.

The victim sought acknowledgment from the church that they had received the letter and expressed a desire to know if Schanz was still alive and whether or not he was still victimizing individuals.

Trautman responded to the victim’s letter. He stated that he wished to acknowledge the unfortunate incidents that occurred to him in the early 1970s. Trautman informed the victim
that Schanz was no longer celebrating the sacraments or mass publicly and that he was in frail
health. Additionally, Trautman noted that Schanz was no longer representing the church in any
public way and did not wear clerical garb.

Bishop Trautman went on to write that he was glad the victim brought his concerns to the Bishop’s attention and that he deeply regretted the tragic circumstances of his life that may
have been influenced by his contact with Schanz.

The second victim’s allegations were reported to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.

The Third Allegation of Abuse

On January 2, 2007, Monsignor Robert Smith received an e-mail outlining an incident that occurred in 1974 when the writer was 17 years old and in a supervisory role at Camp Glinoda.

The writer would later state that the incident had actually occurred at Camp Notre Dame. The writer recalled an instance when approximately 20 children jumped into the pool. Schanz jumped into the pool as well but seemed to focus on one boy in particular. The lifeguard noticed Schanz hugging the boy, as well as picking the boy up out of the water and dunking him under water. The lifeguard told the writer to get the children out of the water.

The unknown boy then told the writer that he wanted to show Schanz something in the cabin. A few minutes passed and the writer went looking for them. The boy and Schanz eventually emerged from the woods. The writer did not recall whether or not the pair were clothed, as he looked away.

He asked the boy later in the day what had been going on. The boy described the incident as “weird.” The writer reported the incident to camp administrators. He was advised that they would take care of the matter and that they should keep it to themselves.

A Fourth Victim Describes Similar Abuse from Father Schanz

In April 2002, another victim sent an e-mail message to Trautman about abuse that he had suffered at the hand of Schanz.

He stated that in 1974, he was an altar boy at Holy Cross Church. Shortly thereafter, Schanz began taking him to his cottage on Lake Erie to go boating and provided him with alcohol nearly every weekend. The victim stated that he would fall asleep and wake up to Schanz kissing him on the lips or touching his genitals.

Additionally, Schanz would take off the victim’s clothing while he believed the victim was sleeping and photograph him nude, specifically his genitals. Schanz would also masturbate in front of the victim after he had removed his clothing and believed him to be asleep. The victim stated that Schanz would kiss him a lot, at times attempting to French kiss him, but that he would not allow that to happen.

According to the victim, Schanz would buy him gifts and clothes and take him to dinner, the
movies and even on trips to Florida in the winter months. While he knew what had happened to
him was wrong, he never told anyone.

A Fifth Victim is Identified

Based on the information provided by the Diocese of Erie, namely two sheets of notes
handwritten by Bishop Donald Trautman, in an unknown year an unidentified additional victim
came forward with allegations that Schanz had sexually abused him.

The abuse took place in 1978 or 1979 when the fifth victim was 16 or 17 years old. Schanz befriended the victim and invited him to his home. The victim state that Schanz had given him alcohol, which caused him to be “tipsy” and that Schanz french kissed him while attempting to pull his pants down. Additionally, the victim stated that the worst incident had occurred at Schanz’ s cabin in Fairview, Pennsylvania.

The notes go on to say that the victim had visited Schanz 3 or 4 months prior to the
handwritten notes. Additionally, the notes state that Father Schanz had given the fifth victim an “F” in a course that he taught.

It should be noted that these handwritten notes, which do not identify the fifth victim, were
found in the file of the sixth victim.

The Sixth Victim’s Abuse Began When He was 15

At the time of the sixth victim’s abuse, Schanz was working at the Cathedral at Gannon University (G.U.). The abuse began when the victim was 15 years old and took place between the years 1980 and 1983. The file contains a note that states “told Monsignor Slatin”. The notes read that victim had no friends and was from a dysfunctional family.

Schanz invited the victim to his residence and gave him alcohol on many occasions. Bishop Trautman noted that the worst incidents of abuse occurred at Schanz’ s cabin in Fairview, Pennsylvania where Schanz would french kiss the victim, massage him while clothed and unclothed, and rub oil on his body.

It was noted that the victim massaged Schanz as well. As a result of the abuse he endured, the victim suffered from severe depression and considered himself to be a womanizer. His wife
deserted him and he was actively receiving counseling.

Perhaps the most telling sentence in Bishop Trautman’ s handwritten notes is the statement “another person abused by Father Schanz.”

The remainder of the file contains documentation related to Schanz’ s retirement from
Gannon University, including a letter from Monsignor David A. Rubino, President of Gannon
University dated August 19, 1996, which is the same date that the sixth victom met with Bishop
Trautman.

A Local Psychologist Discovers a Seventh Victim

Based on the documents received from the Diocese of Erie, on March 1, 2005, Barbara
Edwards, a psychologist local to the Erie area, called the Diocese to alert them that one of her
clients, a seventh victim, had alleged that he was abused by Schanz.

In a letter written to Monsignor Smith, the seventh victim described how his life since a young age had been filled with drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuous sexual activity, emotional issues, and physical health problems. He was an altar boy who only felt at home and purposeful in the church.

According to this victim, Schanz enjoyed engaging in recreational activities with the altar boys. Schanz would intimidate the victim and hold him underwater repeatedly, scaring him terribly. Schanz then took the victim to a bathhouse, where he “did things he should not have done.” The victim does not recall how many times this happened.

On Diocese of Erie letterhead, Bishop Donald Trautman recalled the following interaction with himself, Monsignor Smith and Barbara Edwards. According to Bishop Trautman, the victim was in the sixth grade at St. Andrew’s in Erie, Pennsylvania at the time of the abuse suffered at the hands of Schanz. According to Bishop Trautman, Schanz helped at St. Andrews in the summer. Bishop Trautman wrote that Schanz took the victim and a few other boys to the beach to go swimming, where Schanz became aggressive with the victim.

Bishop Trautman went on to write that Schanz took the victim to a bathhouse or sauna, where he rubbed the victim down with oak leaves. He stated, “he spent too much time on my genitals and rectum.”

This bothered the victim greatly and he told his father. His father told him to stay away from Schanz.

Bishop Trautman went on to write that the victim wanted to return to the Church, so Monsignor Smith took his confession and they discussed reentry to Mass. Bishop Trautman wrote that he called Schanz, who admitted to taking boys to the beach, but that Schanz adamantly denied ever going to a sauna or bathhouse. Bishop Trautman wrote that he informed Edwards of Schanz’ s statements.

Schanz was never criminally charged for any of the seven reported sexual abuse cases before his death in 2010. He is buried at Trinity Cemetery in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Contact us today.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Erie now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr William A. Rice – Diocese of Erie

Father William A. Rice
Diocese of Erie

Fr William Rice Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1963
Placed on leave: July 2018

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father William A. Rice:

In July 2018, Father William A. Rice, a former teacher at Elk County Catholic High School, was added to the Diocese of Erie’s list of credibly accused priests. Rice is accused of sexual harassment of children and adults. Following diocesan policy, law enforcement was informed, an independent investigation was launched, and Bishop Persico placed Rice on administrative leave.

He is currently living in Fryburg, Pennsylvania.

Contact us today.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Erie now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr. William F. Presley – Diocese of Erie

Father William F. Presley
Diocese of Erie

Fr William Presley Horowitz Law

Ordained: November 1935
Retired: July 2000
Laicization: 2006

Assigned as follows:

  • 05/1956 – 06/1965: St. Cosmas and Damian, Punxsutawney
  • 06/1965 – 08/1970: Elk County Christian High School, St. Marys
  • 05/1971 – 08/1971: Immaculate Conception, Brookville
  • 05/1972 – 08/1971: Our Lady Queen of the Americas, Conneaut Lake
  • 08/1970 – 06/1976: Leave of Absence, Graduate and Student Counselor, Notre Dame,
    Indiana
  • 06/1976 – 06/1977: Leave of Absence, St. Joseph University, Philadelphia
  • 06/1977 – 06/1978: Leave of Absence, Campus Minister, University of Maryland,
    Baltimore, Maryland
  • 06/1978 – 08/1981: St. Therese, Shinglehouse
  • 06/1971 – 08/1981: Sacred Heart Mission, Genesee
  • 08/1981 – 03/1983: Leave of Absence, Parish Ministry in Raleigh, North Carolina
  • 03/1983 – 03/1988: St. Agnes, Morrisdale (three separate assignments)
  • 03/1988 – 04/1990: Leave of Absence, Outside the Diocese
  • 04/1990 – 07/2000: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sykesville (three separate
    assignments)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father William F. Presley:

According to a lengthy, in-depth examination of the history of Father William Presley by the grand jury, the Diocese of Erie was first apprised of Father William Presley’s sexual abuses as early as November 1987 during his assignment at St. Agnes. These sexual abuses, as reported to the Diocese, involved two victims and spanned nearly sixteen years. One of the victims had been abused as recently as 1986; the second victim was abused prior to 1971 when he was a high school student in another parish.

Between February and May 1988, various meetings or discussions were held between Presley and Diocesan officials. The Diocese noted that Presley did not directly deny the allegations.

According to the grand jury report, there was a consensus amongst Diocese of Erie chancery officials that Presley was extremely violent and predisposed to assaultive behavior.

In 1988, Bobal wrote a letter to Murphy containing his recollection of a meeting with Presley. He confirmed that Presley had given the teenaged female victim a job and had obtained other items for her, including clothing and money. He also noted the possibility that Presley would become violent. The meeting concluded with a request that Presley undergo a psychological evaluation. Presley ultimately refused the evaluation but agreed to see another doctor at the recommendation of the Diocese.

Following an evaluation in April 1990, Murphy placed Presley in a temporary assignment, which was made permanent in June 1990. Shortly thereafter, Trautman allowed Presley to remain in his position as Pastor and Administrator at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Sykesville, Jefferson County. In April 1996, Trautman appointed Presley to a new 6-year term as Administrator of this Church, where Father Presley remained until his retirement in 2000.

Reports of Violent Sexual Abuse from Father Presley

In April 2002, three separate victims notified Trautman of sexual abuse perpetrated upon them by Presley from 1963 to 1974. One of the victims was as young as 13 years old when it occurred.

The abuse of these individuals consisted of “choking, slapping, punching, rape, sodomy, fellatio, anal intercourse,” and other acts according to Diocesan records reviewed by the Grand Jury.

In 2002, Trautman contacted Presley by telephone and recorded that Presley admitted the sexual abuse of the victims.

Trautman revoked Presley’s priestly faculties later that year.

In April 2003, and in response to media inquiries about Presley, the Diocese of Erie issued a press release stating, among other things, that Presley’s priestly faculties were removed in July 2002 shortly after the allegations prompted the Diocese to conduct an internal investigation. The Diocese stated that Trautman’ s understanding of the alleged incidents was that the crimes had occurred 28 years ago during the time of the late Bishop Watson.

The Diocese explained that the individual making the allegation was twenty years old at the time and enrolled at a college in another state where the incidents were reported to have occurred. The Diocese told the public that it had “no information to provide on other possible allegations against the priest.”

The press release from the Diocese of Erie was false and misleading.  Trautman had personal knowledge of at least three victims, one as young as 13, who reported their abuse to him in 2002. Only one victim was an out-of-state college student. Moreover, the Diocese was aware of sexual abuse complaints against Presley as early as 1987 but permitted him to stay in active ministry for another 13 years.  Of course, this is to say nothing of the other allegations known to Trautman about other priests at the time he made the statement.

Additionally, Diocesan records showed that Presley was so violent that priests who interacted with him were concerned for their safety.

Later that year, Trautman communicated with the Vatican and outlined additional details with respect to sexual abuse committed by Presley. Trautman reported that the information “…confirms my suspicion that there are even more victims of the sexual abuse and exploitation perpetrated by Presley.”

More Allegations Recorded Against Presley

By 2005, the Diocese was actively engaged in an attempt to formally remove Presley from the priesthood. In the course of that effort, personnel for the Diocese interviewed other witnesses or associates of Presley and identified numerous additional victims or potential victims.

Monsignor Mark Bartchak led the investigation. Several of these individuals stated that they informed the Diocese of their concerns in the 1980s, including a report to a parish council member, who stated that Presley would not allow anyone else inside the rectory when certain children were present and that some of these children spent the night with him on multiple occasions.

Bartchak also re-interviewed the male victim who had previously disclosed his abuse to the Diocese in 1982, 1987, and 2002. He explained that Presley invited him to his rectory after befriending him. Presley then tried to hypnotize him before assaulting him. Presley brought other children on some of these trips, including one occasion when he tried to abuse both the victim and another high school student at the same time.

Presley taught the victim how to have sexual intercourse by bringing in a female high school student and using index cards to show them where to touch each other. On more than one occasion, Presley gave him some type of a sedative to relax him prior to abusing him. Presley stated that it was okay “because he was a priest” and used his position as a spiritual guide to further the abuse.

On August 25, 2005, Bartchak sent a confidential memo to Trautman that detailed the results of his interviews to date. Bartchak stated the following: “I was not surprised to learn from other witnesses from the Elk County area, that there are likely to be other victims” and that “… several more witnesses who could attest to the brutality that they were subjected to by Father Presley.”

Bartchak asked, “It is likely that there may be others who were also of the age for the offenses to be considered delicts, but to what end is it necessary to follow every lead?”

He sought Trautman’ s opinion, asking, “Is it worth the further harm and scandal that might occur if this is all brought up again? I am asking you how you want me to proceed. With due regard for the potential for more harm to individuals and for more scandal, should I continue to follow up on potential leads?”

Four days later Bartchak documented a meeting earlier that day with Trautman, in which he stated Bishop Trautman decided that in order to preclude further scandal, these additional witnesses should not be contacted, especially given the fact that is not likely that they will lead to information concerning delicts involving minors under 16 years of age.

On July 13, 2006, Trautman wrote to the Lancaster County District Attorney. His letter stated that Presley was now defrocked and that the Diocese had received “credible allegations regarding sexual misconduct with a minor which allegedly occurred many years ago.” Trautman falsely wrote, “We were unaware of these allegations until they came to light only a few years ago. As a result, no criminal charges were ever brought forward because the statute of limitations had expired.”

Presley was allowed to move out of the Diocese and now resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He has had no criminal charges filed against him.

Contact us today.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Erie now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr Joseph V. Reszkowski Horowitz Law

Msgr. Joseph V. Reszkowski – Diocese of Erie

Monsignor Joseph V. Reszkowski
Diocese of Erie

Fr Joseph V. Reszkowski Horowitz Law

Ordained: May 1954
Death: September 2003

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Msgr. Joseph V. Reszkowski:

Joseph V. Reszkowski is identified on a list of clergy members at the Diocese of Erie who were already deceased when allegations of child sexual abuse were filed against them. Nothing is known of the allegations against Reszkowski, other than the fact that the allegations were determined to be credible in October 2018, 5 years after his death in 2003.

Meisinger is buried at Trinity Cemetery in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Contact us today.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Erie now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr. Gary Ketcham, O.F.M. – Diocese of Erie

Father Gary L. Ketcham, O.F.M.

Diocese of Erie

Ordination: 1977

Health leave: 1989 – 1990

Suspended: 1998 – 2004

Laicized: 2004

Privately Employed: 2004 – present

Assigned as follows:

  • 1977 – 1984 St. Bonaventure University, Faculty Franciscan Friars (NY)
  • 1983 – 1984 St. Patrick’s (Buffalo, NY)
  • 1984 – 1985 Parochial Vicar, St. John the Baptist (Erie, PA)
  • 1985 – 1989 Parochial Vicar, St. George (Erie, PA)
  • 1989 – 1989 Health Leave, Guest House (Rochester, MN)
  • 1989 – 1990 Health Leave, St. Luke’s Institute (Suitland, MD)
  • 1990 – 1990 Health Leave, St. Patrick’s/St. Hedwig Cluster (Erie, PA)

Summary of Allegations against Father Gary L. Ketcham:

According to the grand jury report, Diocese of Erie officials learned of an accusation against Ketchem for the drunken molestation of two young boys in Mobile, Alabama “sometime prior to 1989.” Ketcham was later charged criminally with two counts of sexual abuse in Baldwin County, Alabama.  He was also sent to inpatient sex-offender treatment at a Diocese of Erie owned treatment facility, Ecclesia Center. As was often the case for priests criminally charged with sexual abuse, the diocese “loaned” him more than $30,000.00 to pay for his attorney. In our experience, the loans are rarely repaid.  Whether they were repaid by Ketcham is unknown.

Ketcham would go on to plead guilty on both counts of child abuse and was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.  He now has a permanent felony record.

Ketcham never returned to active ministry, but it appears that he remained a priest until he suddenly requested laicization in 2002.  While the grand jury report is not clear on this point, dozens of Pennsylvania priests requested laicization around this same time. It is likely no coincidence since the scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston became regular national news in January 2002.  Whether Ketcham received any financial compensation or benefits as an “exit package” from the priesthood is unclear, but, in our experience, such an arrangement was common in dioceses across the country. Ketcham was formally laicized in 2004.

Ketcham is alive and believed to be residing in the Erie, Pennsylvania, area. Despite his felony conviction in Alabama, he is not a registered sex offender.  

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Erie now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

 

Fr. Herbert Gloekler – Diocese of Erie

Father Herbert G. Gloekler

Diocese of Erie

Ordained: 1949

Death: 1985

Assigned as follows:

  • 1949 – 1967 Sacred Heart (Erie, PA)
  • 1967 – 1974 St. Bibiana (Galeton, PA)
  • 1974 – 1985 Mount Calvary (Erie, PA)

Summary of Allegations against Father Herbert G. Gloekler:

In 2002 the Erie Times published an article describing the abuse that occurred in the Catholic Church as told by a victim and former student of Sacred Heart who says she was abused in the 1950s. She also sent an email to Bishop Trautman in 2002 requesting he stop the abuse within the church and help those who have suffered sexual abuse due to the neglect of the Diocese.

After seeing the news article in early 2002, a second victim came forward to the Diocese of Erie to report her abuse by Gloekler. She was a classmate and friend of the first victim and her family. The second victim said that she volunteered to do some office work at the rectory, and that Gloekler abused her during that time.  

A third victim came forward that same year to report that Gloekler once took her into his room in the rectory and raped her when she was a child.

Also in 2002, a  fourth victim wrote a letter addressed to Bishop Donald Trautman claiming that while sexually abused as a grammar school student at Sacred Heart.  As a thank you for her volunteer work at the rectory, Gloekler took her and other student volunteers (all girls) out to dinner. Before the meal, however, he stopped at his mother’s home with the female students where he pulled the girl into a private room and kissed her hard on the lips. A week later, when she reported to the rectory for volunteer work with other girls, Gloekler again pulled her into a private room where he “kissed her and molested her,” according to the grand jury report.

Not long after the Erie Times article, two seperate witnesses came forward to the Diocese to report what they knew about Gloekler’s abuse of girls at Sacred Heart. One of the witnesses was a nun at the time of her letter and a former classmate of the  victim identified in the news article. The witness confirmed that she often overheard the first victim, as well as other girls, complain about Gloekler’s sexual abuse during the time period of the abuse. The other witness claimed that while she was a student at Sacred Heart between 1957 – 1959, she helped fold church bulletins on Fridays and once witnessed Gloekler fondle young girls’ breasts directly in front of her.

In 2003, a former housekeeper at Mt. Calvary Church in Erie, Pennsylvania, also came forward to confirm her knowledge of Gloekler’s misdeeds. She worked for Gloekler in 1974, before Father Donald J. Cooper, another priest listed in the Grand Jury Report, took over Gloekler’s position and fired her. The housekeeper approached St. Mark’s Catholic Center in person to state she knew that both Gloekler and Cooper were involved in sexual misconduct. There was no specific mention of money; however, the housekeeper “inferred” that Gloekler promised her a pension at the time of her employment, and she had yet to receive it. The Diocese of Erie denied her request for a pension. There is no indication that the Diocese did any follow-up on the housekeeper’s allegations.

Father Herbert G. Gloekler passed away in 1985 in good standing with the Diocese of Erie.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Erie now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr. John Piatkowski – Diocese of Erie

Father John Piatkowski
Diocese of Erie

Fr John Piatkowski Horowitz Law

Ordained: November 1935
Death: 1970

Assigned as follows:

  • 11/11/1935 – 5/21/1948: St. Stanislaus Koska, Erie/Tyler, PA
  • 5/22/1948 – 11/16/1970: Assumption, Sykesville, PA

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father John Piatkowski:

According to the grand jury report, the Diocese of Erie received an allegation of abuse against Father John A. Piatkowski by letter written in March 1955.  The author advised that at the age of 12, he became an altar boy.  During his time as an altar boy, Piatkowski began to kiss the victim and tell him that he loved him. He took the victim for rides and to the movies. It was during this time that Piatkowski would play with the victim’s penis until he had an orgasm.

On numerous other occasions, Piatkowski committed similar abuse on the victim in the church basement and in the parish house where Piatkowski lived. The victim related that while he felt that the entire situation did not seem right, he was afraid to tell his parents for fear that they would not have believed him.

In October 1959, another letter arrived at the Diocese of Erie, addressed to Bishop John Mark Gannon.

The letter indicated that the writer was requesting on behalf of the parish in Sykesville that the parish be assigned a new priest. The letter stated that Piatkowski had been molesting little boys and that the boys were afraid to talk. The letter alleged that Piatkowski made nervous wrecks out of the children and that they were afraid of him. It is unknown to the Grand Jury if this incident was ever referred to law enforcement by the Diocese of Erie.

In 2008, Bishop Donald W. Troutman met with a third victim and his wife at the St. Catherine rectory in DuBois. The victim reported that Piatkowski repeatedly sexually abused him when he was approximately 7 or 8 years old. The sexual abuse took place in the 1940s in a small parish in Tyler. Troutman referred the victim to counseling and reported the matter to Erie County District Attorney’s Office on January 5, 2009.

Piatkowski died in 1970 and is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania.

Contact us today.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Erie now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr David Poulson Horowitz Law

Fr. David Poulson – Diocese of Erie

Father David Poulson
Diocese of Erie

Fr David Poulson Horowitz Law

Fr David Poulson Horowitz Law

Fr David Poulson Horowitz Law

Ordained: June 1979
Resignation: February 2018
Arrest and Conviction: October 2018

Assigned as follows:

  • 7/05/1979 – 6/09/1982: Faculty, Bradford Central Christian High School, Bradford, PA Weekend Education, St. Francis of Assisi, Bradford, PA
  • 6/09/1982-8/24/1997: Faculty, Gannon University
  • 6/01/1991 -8/24/1997: Director, Parochial Administrator Gannon University
  • 8/24/1997 -12/03/1997: Administrator, St. Francis of Assisi, Clearfield, PA
  • 12/03/1997- 6/06/2000: Pastor, St. Agnes, Morrisdale, PA
  • 6/06/2000 -7/24/2001: Special Ministries, Clarion University/Catholic Chaplain
  • 6/07/2000 -6/30/2006: Pastor, St. Michael, Fryburg, PA
  • 8/08/2000: Chaplain, Dio. Div. of World Apostolate of Fatima
  • 7/01/2006 -11/08/2010: Pastor, St Michael (2nd 6-year term), Fryburg, PA
  • 11/08/2010- 11/08/2016: Pastor, St. Anthony of Padua
  • 11/08/2010- 11/08/2016: Pastor, St. Bernadette, Cambridge Springs, PA
  • 1/13/2012 -9/11/2014: Dean, Meadville Deanery, Complete term of Father O’Hern
  • 11/01/2013 – 2/2018: Other, Bishop’s Delegate to Mass in the Extraordinary

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father David Poulson:

The Grand Jury reviewed a January 26, 2018 memorandum that was provided to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General by the Diocese of Erie. The memorandum recounted a telephone conversation that advised that a soldier had disclosed that he had been sexually abused by Poulson when he was a child.

During an interview with the Diocese of Erie, Poulson advised that “a friend of mine and I have property near Clarion” with a “little cabin.” Poulson’s friend and co-owner of the property is Mark Bettwy, who is presently employed as a sergeant with the Pennsylvania State Police.

Poulson estimated that he took 20 trips to the cabin and that approximately one-half of those trips were made in the company of minor boys. All of the trips with the boys required at least one overnight stay at the cabin. Poulson admitted that he was attracted to young men and had spent many hours, days and nights with several young men under the age of 18. He then provided the names of six children that he took to his cabin alone. Those names were provided to the OAG by counsel for the Diocese of Erie.

In February 2018, victim 1 was interviewed by OAG. The victim is presently 23-years old, was born in Wisconsin and his family moved to Pennsylvania when he was 7 or 8 years of age. Upon arrival in Pennsylvania, the Catholic Church played a major role in his family’s life because they were new to the area.

The victim related that his parents believed that the local priest, a young man in his late
20s, Poulson, would be a good role model for their children. The victim became very close with Poulson and viewed him as a friend who would take him places, buy him things, and go camping with him.

Poulson began to sexually molest the victim when he was approximately 8 years old. The abuse continued until he was 16. The abuse involved Poulson kissing the victim’s lips, kissing his neck, and sucking on his earlobes.

Poulson also fondled the victim’s genitals and penis, to include masturbation. The victim reported that on several occasions, he was made to reciprocate this behavior on Poulson. The abuse occurred on a biweekly basis from 2002 to 2010. Poulson made the victim go to confession and confess the sexual abuse to Poulson in his capacity as a priest.

The victim stated that his parents encouraged him to spend time with Poulson at the church
rectory and at Poulson’s camp. He revealed that he was sexually assaulted by Poulson at the
rectories at St. Michael’s in Fryberg and at St. Anthony’s in Cambridge Springs. The abuse at the rectories usually occurred on Sundays, after the victim served as an altar boy at mass.

Poulson Continues the Abuse at His Remote Cabin

When asked to estimate the number of times that he was assaulted at the rectories, the victim stated that it occurred in excess of 20 occasions. With respect to Poulson’s camp, the victim advised that he was assaulted at that location between five and 10 times. He described this
hunting camp as being in a very remote location in either Clarion or Jefferson County and that it
took approximately 10 minutes to reach it after turning off the road.

According to the victim, the cabin was a small, one-room, one-floor structure that was approximately 16 feet long by 8 feet wide. It was made of rough cut pine and had no heat, electricity or water.

The victim advised that when he was taken to the camp, he was always alone with Poulson. There was no bed there, so Poulson would bring one air mattress for the two of them to
share.

The victim believes that the last time that he went to the camp and was sexually abused by Poulson was in the summer of 2010. He was 16-years-old at the time. Shortly afterward, he left Pennsylvania and has not had any contact with Poulson since 2013.

The Grand Jury heard testimony from Bettwy who confirmed that he shared ownership of the property with Poulson. Bettwy stated that he was aware that Poulson frequented the camp with young boys and recounted a statement that Poulson had made when they purchased the property. Specifically, Poulson indicated his desire to see property ownership relinquished to the Bettwy family in the event that Poulson was ever accused of molesting altar boys.

Another Victim of Father David Poulson Comes Forward

The Grand Jury heard testimony from a second victim who revealed that he had contact with Poulson between 2003 and 2006 when he was 15 to 18 years of age. On several occasions over the course of those years, he went with Poulson alone to his hunting camp. He knew that Poulson co-owned the property with a policeman whom the victim met while he was at the camp on an altar server retreat. The policeman was not wearing a uniform at that time, however.

The second victim disclosed that while they were at the camp, Poulson put his hand under the victim’s shirt and rubbed his stomach and chest. During this same incident, Poulson slid his hand down the victim’s pants, underneath his underwear, and towards his genitals. The victim was able to roll away and thus avoid further abuse. He stated that he froze when it was happening to him and worried that Poulson would be mad or offended if he stopped him.

Other Individuals Testify Against Father Poulson

Nine other individuals who had contact with Poulson at the time when they were minors. The men described how Poulson would flirt and “wrestle” with them. One witness testified that he “joked” with Poulson about his sexual preference for little boys. Those who had visited the cabin explained that Poulson would bring a laptop computer and watch DVDs while they were there. They all noted that Poulson was neither an outdoorsman nor a hunter.

One witness testified that in early 1979, he was a student at Bradford Central Christian High School. At that time, Poulson had just started working as a teacher and soon became a trusted friend to him. Poulson took the witness to local chess matches and mentored him spiritually.

However, the chess matches then turned into dinners. The dinners soon included dinner with alcohol. Poulson then began showering the witness with gifts and cash. The witness told the Grand Jury that Poulson liked to poke and tickle him, This activity then developed into rough-housing which, in turn, developed into wrestling. He added that Poulson would often grab
him from behind to engage in horseplay. This activity occurred in either the rectory or the church. On at least one occasion, the witness recalled that Poulson had an erection while they
were “wrestling.”

A subpoena to the Diocese of Erie revealed a confidential memorandum from 2010. In the memorandum, Bishop Donald Trautman noted that complaints had been received regarding Paulson’s contact with minors.

The memorandum revealed that during a recorded interview, Poulson admitted that his text messages with male minors were “suggestive to sexual advances.” He also admitted to
Trautman that during the course of tutoring a minor, he shared a book with the boy and was
“aroused.” He then admitted to hugging the boy. Trautman’s memorandum indicated that he
“admonished” Poulson and told him to “cease and desist” such behavior. He further noted that spending time alone with a minor was a violation of Diocesan policy. Poulson continued in active ministry within the Diocese of Erie until his resignation on February 12, 2018.

Justice for Abuse Victims of Father Poulson

According to NBC News, Poulson was charged with indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors — and three of the charges are felonies. He has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two boys over the course of many years.

In January 2019, Poulson was sentenced to at least 30 months and up to 14 years in prison.  According to the Diocese of Erie, Poulson has agreed to seek laicization (removal from the priesthood) as part of his plea deal.

In March 2019, the Diocese of Erie announced that Poulson has been formally removed from the priesthood (laicized) and is no longer allowed to function as a priest.

Contact us today.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Erie now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.