Fr. Edward R. Graff (Diocese of Allentown)

Fr. Edward R. Graff

(Diocese of Allentown)

   

Ordained: 1955

Absent on Sick Leave:  1979-1980

Left Diocese of Allentown: 1992

Retired (Diocese of Amarillo):  2002

Died (in police custody): 2002

Named in civil lawsuits:  2002, 2004, 2009

Assigned as follows:

  • 1955-1957                                    Annunciation B.V.M. (Shenandoah, PA)
  • 1957-1958                                    St. Anthony of Padua (Easton, PA)
  • 1958                                              St. Elizabeth (Pen Argyl, PA)
  • 1958-1959                                     Pius X High School (Roseto, PA)
  • 1959-1962                                     St. Anthony (Easton, PA)
  • 1962-1963                                     On duty outside Diocese of Allentown
  • 1963-1964                                     Our Lady Help of Christians (Allentown, PA)
  • 1964                                             St. Elizabeth (Pen Argyl, PA)
  • 1964-1965                                     Pius X High Schoo (Roseto, PA)
  • 1965-1966                                    Holy Rosary (Reading, PA)/Reading Central Catholic High School
  • 1966-1968                                     Holy Name High School (Reading, PA)
  • 1968-1969                                     St. Margaret (Reading, PA)
  • 1969-1971                                     St. Peter (Coplay, PA)
  • 1971-1974                                    Annunciation B.V.M. (Catasaqua, PA)
  • 1974-1979                                   Director, Thanksgiving Clothing Drive
  • 1979-1980                                   Absent on Sick Leave
  • 1980-1983                                    St. Margaret (Reading, PA)
  • 1983-1992                                    Holy Angels (Reading, PA)
  • 1992                                             Left Diocese of Allentown
  • 1992-2002                                    Various ministry assignments in New Mexico and Texas

Summary of Allegations against Father Edward Graff:

The recent grand jury report takes a very detailed look at the actions of the Diocese of Allentown (as well as his subsequent dioceses in New Mexico and Texas) to protect Fr. Edward Graff during the course of his ministry, often at the expense of the most vulnerable members of the church community: its children.  According to the report, “the case of Graff is an example of dioceses that minimized the criminal conduct of one of their priests, while secretly noting the significant danger the priest posed to the public.”  It continue, “The Grand Jury heard from still more victims who reported Graff was particularly violent in his assaults and seemed to take as much pleasure in causing pain as in the criminal sexual acts themselves.  All of Graff’s victims have struggled to move forward, and many question why so little has been done to hold the institution accountable for enabling the commission of such heinous crimes by their leaders.”

According to documents reviewed during the grand jury investigation, Graff was first sent to inpatient treatment for chemical dependency in 1986. It is not unusual, in our experience, to see allegations of sexual abuse coded as a chemical dependency in records.  the theory is that if the incidents occurred while the priest was intoxicated, then solving the chemical dependency would solve the problem of the potential scandal caused by child molestation.  As if either piece was that simple.  Indeed, the grand jury concluded that the real motivation was to explore the credibility of child sexual abuse allegations that had been made against Graff.

Graff again underwent inpatient treatment in New Mexico in the late 1980s at a notorious treatment facility devoted to treating pedophile priests, the Servants of the Paraclete.  Documents reviewed by the grand jury reflect that Graff was being treated for far more than chemical dependency this time.

Unfortunately for the general public, this treatment facility had a treatment modality that aimed at re-integrating abusive priests into ministry as part of their program.  We have seen countless people abused in the New Mexico and Texas areas by priests who were thought to have been “treated” but were not welcome back to their home dioceses due to their problems.  Graff’s case is no exception.  He was authorized to retire from ministry by the Diocese of Allentown in 1992, yet he opted to continue his work as a priest in the Santa Fe and Amarillo dioceses instead.  “Out of sight, out of mind” prevailed and the Diocese of Allentown allowed him to do so.  During this time period, the Diocese of Allentown continued to provide Graff with a monthly stipend, health insurance, and a living allowance.

As the grand jury correctly deduced: “[Bishop] Welsh had the power to remove Graff’s faculties to minister in light of Graff’s known risk, concern, and legal liability.  However, Welsh left Graff in ministry by agreement,” where he was asked to minister to people “who are almost totally Hispanic and among the poorest of the poor.”

Graff has been accused by more than 25 men of sexually abusing them during the course of his priesthood in Pennsylvania and Texas.  When he was arrested on charges that he sexually abused a 15-year-old Texas boy in 2002, police seized almost 60 videotapes as suspected child pornography.

Graff died in November 2002 in the custody while awaiting trial.  According to media reports, the 73 year old slipped and fell while waiting to shower not long after his arrest in October 2002, breaking his hip.  He never recovered and died about a month later in the hospital where he was being treated.

Since his death, several men have come forward publicly to report that they were sexually abused by Graff in the Diocese of Allentown.  One man reported that he was abused while working in the church rectory, where he apparently hired mostly Hispanic teenage boys to clean the rectory and assist with the upkeep of the property.  Several of his victims testified before the grand jury in 2016 and 2017.  Several others were unable to do so as they had taken their own lives as a consequence of the debilitating effects of their abuse.

One woman, the mother of a boy sexually abused by Graff in 1984, testified under oath that her son told her about the abuse immediately, and that she immediately told Fr. John Krivak, as well as her son’s school principal, about the abuse.  However, Graff continued in ministry unrestricted.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown.  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 Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.