Msgr. Leonard Furmanski – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Monsignor Leonard Furmanski

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Fr. Leonard Furmanski Horowitz Law  Fr. Leonard Furmanski Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1959

Suspended: 2003

Retired (voluntarily) 2004

Permanently restricted: 2004

Died: 2009

Assigned as follows:

  • 1959-1960 St. Joseph (Spring City, PA)
  • 1960 St. Christopher (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1960-1964 Archbishop Kennedy High School
  • 1960-1964 St. Mary (Conshohocken, PA)
  • 1964-1975 Cardinal O’Hara High School
  • 1964-1970 St. Joseph (Aston, PA)
  • 1970-1975 Sacred Heart (Clifton Heights, PA)
  • 1975-1977 Archbishop Kennedy High School
  • 1975-1977 St. Mary’s Villa
  • 1977-1989 Sacred Heart (Swedesburg, PA)
  • 1981-1983 St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
  • 1989-1991 St. Martin of Tours (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1991-1995 St. Titus (Norristown, PA)
  • 1995-1998 St. Josaphat (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1998-1999 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (Bensalem, PA)
  • 1999-2003 Chaplain, Nazareth Hospital

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Msgr. Leonard Furmanski:

According to the grand jury report, in early 2002, a man wrote to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to report that he was sexually abused by his algebra teacher and then later, Monsignor Leonard Furmanski, at Cardinal O’Hara High School.  

  • FURMANSKI IS ACCUSED OF ABUSING A RAPE VICTIM AT CARDINAL O’HARA HIGH SCHOOL IN 1964

Three and a half months later, Msgr. William Lynn made time to meet with the man.  He reported that during his freshman year (1964-1965), the 6’6” 375-pound algebra teacher asked him to stay after school.  The teacher brought the boy to the cafeteria, gave him a soda, and asked him about why he was struggling in class. The boy revealed problems at home between his parents.  The teacher ended their impromptu counseling session by bending the boy over a chair and raping him. The abuse continued throughout the school year. Sometimes, the teacher even bound his hands with a belt.

The boy confided in his religion teacher, Msgr. Furmanski, because he felt he could not tell his parents.  According to the man, Furmanski responded by groping the boy’s penis and asking if that is what the teacher did to him. His touch was not violent, and the priest told the boy that he loved him, so it was okay.  The boy began helping in the school bookstore that Furmanski ran; the fondling and, eventually masturabation of the priest, occurred several times a week. Then, suddenly, one day Furmanski told the boy that he had been replaced by other boys.

  • FURMANSKI IS ACCUSED OF SEXUALLY ABUSING A 7TH GRADE GIRL (AND, LATER, A BOY) AT SACRED HEART IN 1977

During the grand jury investigation, a woman told investigators that she was sexually abused by Furman in 1977 at Sacred Heart in Swedesburg.  She was in sixth grade. She became active in the parish youth group that Furmanski started for girls, and he asked her to help him around the rectory with some clerical work. He knew she was from a broken home, where she had only a sick mother and no father.  He also knew that she felt honored about being asked to help the popular priest, and that it gave her a certain status among her peers that she would not have given her family background.

Furmanski took it upon himself to teach the girl about sex, even using a manual with photos of male and female anatomy.  He explained that the penis was only supposed to go into the vagina and should not be put anywhere else. The conversations got more and more graphic over time, but she trusted him because he was the priest.

In 7th grade, Furmanski began using his own body to demonstrate his lessons, telling her she needed to feel what an erection felt like.  That gave way to him lying on top of her, still clothed, and grinding his penis against her pelvis. She told the grand jury this “dry humping” happened several times a month for two more years.  He told her that she could tell no one about it because he would tell everyone that she seduced him.

About 18 months into the abuse, Furmanski brought her into the rectory living room and introduced her to one of the altar boys in the parish.  He directed her to sit next to the boy, who proceeded to kiss and touch her all over her body, including her vaginal area. Furmanski directed their moments and reminded her that he had prepared her for this. These “encounters” occurred several more times, and Furmanski watched them secretly because he would comment on the incidents in ways that made it obvious he watched them.   When Furmanski began trying to get her to have sex with the boy, she refused but she was terrified because Furmanski would yell at her. 

One day, near the end of 8th grade, Regina began to scream while Furmanski lay on top of her.  She said she would scream until someone heard her if he did not get off her. Furmanski stood up and Regina walked out, never to return.  Furmanski continued to pursue her, even calling her house, but Regina avoided him. Once she started high school, she had very little contact with him.

  • FURMANSKI IS ACCUSED OF ABUSING MULTIPLE ALTAR BOYS AT SACRED HEART IN THE 1980S

In September 2003, a therapist contacted the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to report that her client was sexually abused by Furmanski at Sacred Heart in the early 1980s.  Furmanski had taken him to the rectory, shown him pornography, and then forced the child to perform oral sex on him.

When confronted with the allegation in October 2003, Furmanski admitted to fondling “boys” (plural) at Sacred Heart in the 1980s.  Why no one ever thought to ask Furmanski about the 2002 allegations that he abused a rape victim is not clear.

  • FURMANSKI IS ACCUSED OF MOLESTING AN 11 YEAR OLD BOY IN 1998 AT ST. ELIZABETH ANN SETON

In 1999, three years before the Cardinal O’Hara rape victim came forward, the mother of an 11 year old altar boy at St. Elizabeth met with Msgr. William Lynn, the former secretary for clergy, and told him that Furmanski was acting “inappropriately” with her son.  Lynn’s notes do not detail what he meant by “inappropriately.” However, according to what the boy had told a counselor at Catholic Social Services, Furmanski often made the boy “massage” him several times. Lynn called the counselor himself; whatever she told him about the boy’s statements made Lynn write in his notes that it was “abuse w/one of priests.”  She also found it important that the boy told her about the massage when asked a direct question about sexual abuse; that meant that whatever happened, the boy considered it sexual and abuse, not an innocent massage. He was also feeling very guilty because the priest told him that he could never tell anyone about the massages.

When asked about the allegation, Furmanski admitted to having the boy massage him multiple times.  

Cardinal Bevilacqua was made aware of the allegation, as well as Furmanski’s admission.  Furmanski was removed from the parish and sent for a 10 day evaluation at St. John Vianney, a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Of course, as per his standard modus operandi, Lynn failed to provide the treatment professionals with a complete picture of Furmanski’s history.  Not surprisingly, Furmanski was discharged with a report that he was not a danger to minors – he had committed a mere “boundary violation” – and the mother was informed that Furmanski would be returned to the parish.

According to documents reviewed by the grand jury, the mother was irate and “clearly stated that, if Msgr. Furmanski did not leave the parish, she would do whatever was necessary, including informing parishioners and teachers about the incidents or going to other authorities to see that he was removed.” Under the threat of public scandal, the Cardinal suddenly changed his mind.  Furmanski was told to resign from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and he did in mid-August 1999. He was assured by Lynn that he could still be considered for a pastorate in the future.

  • ARCHDIOCESE LAWYERS INTIMIDATE AND THREATEN A VICTIM AND HIS FAMILY TO GET HIM TO RETRACT HIS ALLEGATION

When the Cardinal O’Hara victim came forward in 2002, Furmanski was still in ministry.  Following those allegations, Furmanski was sent for a second evaluation at St. John Vianney.  Again, he was given a clean bill of health and the report indicated that his evaluators found no evidence that he abused the man, particularly since, according to them, there were no other allegations against Furmanski.  The 1999 “massage” allegations were discounted as poor judgment in boundaries.

Furmanski remained in ministry and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia ignored the obvious implications of the two reports received three years apart:  Furmanski began abusing kids more than 30 years before and was likely still abusing them as recently as 1999, if not beyond.

In 2003, a lawyer for the Archdiocese contacted the Cardinal O’Hara victim, purportedly to get a statement.  He then accused the man of lying for money, despite the fact that the man had never even contacted a lawyer himself.  He then told the victim that he knew about a criminal conviction against the victim for mismanaging escrow funds as an insurance adjuster, and that the lawyer would use it to prove he was a liar.  According to the grand jury, the lawyer then called the man’s wife to ask if her employer – the county court system – knew her husband was a convicted criminal. He then suggested to the wife that if the man pursued his allegation against Furmanski, he would make sure that her employer found out about it. The man would later tell the grand jury that he never had any intention of suing the Archdiocese – he only wanted him out of ministry.

It would later be revealed that the same lawyer obtained Furmanski’s confession to abusing boys at Sacred Heart.  Lynn’s notes indicate that the lawyer immediately terminated the interview and did not press for details.

The rest of the interview was later conducted by a Chancery official. By that time, Furmanski backed off his original statement said he thought he may have fondled one boy in the 1980s.  He denied touching more than one boy ever.

What is not entirely clear from the grand jury report is why the Archdiocese had such a deliberately confrontational response to this man’s allegations.  In early 2002, as the depth of the scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston was becoming regular national news, Cardinal Justin Rigali suspended several priests who had previously been accused of sexual abuse, including ‘boundary violations.’  There is no obvious reason in the record why Furmanski was allowed to remain in ministry, particularly given the recentness of his alleged misconduct.  The response in this matter raises more questions than it answers.

  • FURMANSKI IS SENT FOR A THIRD PSYCH EVALUATION IN LATE 2003 BEFORE FINALLY BEING RETIRING FROM MINISTRY VOLUNTARILY

In October 2003, after his interview with the lawyer and the Chancery official, Furmanski was sent back for a third dog-and-pony-show at St. John Vianney.  He would stay there for three months.

Two months later, in December 2003, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s internal review board finally recommended that Furmanski be removed from ministry for violating the Church’s Essential Norms prohibiting sexual abuse of a minor.  

On January 31, 2004, Furmanski was discharged from St. John Vianney.  He was permitted to retire voluntarily, and went to live in his home on the Jersey Shore.

In late 2004, as the Archdiocese prepared to submit the files of several accused priests to the Vatican to request involuntary laicization, Furmanski agreed to forgo the canonical process and live a “supervised life of prayer and penance.”  

Furmanski resided at Villa St. Joseph with other accused priests until his death in 2009.

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 area 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.