Msgr. Robert Maher – Diocese of Harrisburg

Msgr. Robert Maher – Diocese of Harrisburg

Fr. Robert Maher

Ordained: 1937

Resigned: 1975

Died: 1990

Assigned as follows:
  • 1937-1939        St. Rose of Lima (York, PA)
  • 1939            St. Mary (Kulpmont, PA)
  • 1940-1941        St. Peter (Columbia, PA)
  • 1941            Boy Scout Chaplain
  • 1946-1961        Superintendent of Schools
  • 1941-1946        St. Mary Assumption (Lebanon, PA)
  • 1946-1960        St. Peter (Columbia, PA)
  • 1960-1961        St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Harrisburg, PA)
  • 1961-1974        St. VIncent (Hanover, PA)
  • 1975-1979        Resigned/Retired
  • 1979-1986        Diocesan Archivist
Summary of Allegations against Msgr. Robert Maher:

According to the grand jury report, there is one lone, mysterious document in Maher’s secret/restricted file, accessible only by the Bishop, relating to Msgr. Robert Maher’s resignation in 1975.  He refers vaguely to an “experience” that is not “without pain. But like surgery it must be endured trusting no metastasis will overtake our spiritual therapy.” Bishop Joseph Daley accepted the priest’s resignation but specifically opted not to revoke Maher’s faculties to minister.  No documents in the Maher’s files refer to the actual reason he resigned.

In 1994, the Diocese of Harrisburg received an allegation of abuse from a man who says that Maher sexually abused him (kissing, fondling, oral sex upon the child) when he was in 6th or 7th grade and Maher was assigned to St. Vincent in Hanover, Pennsylvania.  The same man mad reports consistently in 1997, 2002, and 2007, though the exact reason he was so persistent is not included in the grand jury report.

In 1997, a member of a religious order reported to the Diocese of Harrisburg that he had personally sought counseling as an adult from Maher.  During a counseling session, Maher forced himself upon the man, hugging him and forcing his tongue into the man’s mouth during an unwanted kiss.

In 2012, another man reported abuse as a child.  He said that during the course of being counseled for his poor behavior as a nine year old, Maher made the boy sit on his lap and kissed him inappropriately.

In 2015, a fourth man came forward to the Diocese of Harrisburg to report that, while recovering from an injury, Maher used it as an excuse to get physically close to the boy (as if to check on his recovery) and forced himself on the boy, nearly kissing him on the mouth except that the boy moved away.

Also in 2015, a St. Vincent parishioner wrote to the Diocese of Harrisburg to report that he or she was aware of 15 boys who were sexually abused by Maher during his assignment there.  At the time, the parishioner was a student at the school and witnessed the inappropriate behavior with Maher. He/She did not provide the names of the 15 boys, maintaining that they each had a right to privacy and could come forward on their own if they chose to do so.

In 2016, yet another man reported that he knew that Maher touched the genitals of a 7 year old boy and also performed oral sex on the child.  How the man knew that is not clear from the grand jury report (i.e., was he a victim or a witness?).

Maher died in 1990.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Harrisburg.  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 Harrisburg now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or today.