Fr. Thomas Kohler – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Father Thomas M. Kohler

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Fr. Thomas Kohler Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1968

Removed from ministry: 1985

Inpatient evaluation/treatment: 1985-1986, 1994-1995

Named in civil lawsuit: 1996

Laicized (removed from priesthood):   2005

Assigned as follows:

  • 1968-1972 St. Charles Borromeo (Drexel Hill, PA)
  • 1969-1972 Chaplain, Boy Scouts of America
  • 1972-1977 Our Lady of Good Counsel (Southampton, PA)
  • 1977-1979 St. Jerome (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1979-1984 St. Dominic (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1984-1985 St. Callistus (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1986-1994 St. Charles Borromeo (Bensalem, PA) (in res.)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Thomas Kohler:

In early 1994, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia received a report that Kohler sexually abused an underage male from 1973-1977 at Our Lady of Good Counsel, but the 2005 grand jury report does not provide any additional details about the nature or context of the abuse.  Kohler had already been on a leave of absence for nearly a decade for undisclosed for reasons by the time this allegation was received, but he continued to reside at St. Charles Borromeo parish in Bensalem.

However, given that he was sent to a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests, St. Luke Institute, for eight months in 1985 and into 1986, there is certainly reason to suspect that the leave of absence was due to allegations of sexual misconduct that arose in 1985.  However, the grand jury report does not identify any allegations during that time period, nor has the Archdiocese of Philadelphia offered any information about the reason for his removal from ministry at that time, so we cannot say with certainty what the reason was.

In July 1994, only a few months after the Good Counsel allegation was received, Kohler was arrested and charged with obscenity for photographing a 15-year-old boy in a sexually explicit way.  Another priest, William O’Connell, was also investigated in conjunction with the crime. The two owned shore houses near each other in Lower Township, New Jersey, where the photographs were taken.  According to media reports, there was a delay in arresting Kohler because he was in inpatient treatment at Villa St. John Vianney, another notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, when the warrant was issued.  St. John Vianney is owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The hospitalization may have been related to the Good Counsel allegations that came in earlier in the year.

O’Connell eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in a facility for sex offenders.  He is not required to register as a sex offender.

In 1996, Kohler was named in a civil lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia by a man who said he was sexually abused by Kohler from 1973 to 1978 as an altar boy at Our Lady of Good Counsel.  His lawyer later identified him as the man who made the early 1994 report to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Kohler remained a priest on leave until 2004 (while incarcerated). He was laicized by the Vatican in 2005.  

Kohler is still living and may still be residing in the Bensalem, Pennsylvania, area.  He is not required to register as a sex offender and is no longer on supervised released (parole).  

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  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 Philadelphia 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.