Fr. Donald Cooper – Diocese of Erie

Father Donald Cooper

Diocese of Erie

Donald Cooper Diocese of Erie Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1963

Retired: 2005

Death: 2011

Assigned as follows:

  • 1963 – 1964: Bradford Central High Christian High School (Bradford, PA)
  • 1964 – 1971: St. Titus (Titusville, PA)
  • 1971 – 1975: St. George (Erie, PA)
  • 1975 – 1984: St. Charles (New Bethlehem, PA)
  • 1984 – 1987: Mount Calvary (Erie, PA)
  • 1987 – 1988: Assumption (Oil City, PA)
  • 1988 – 1989: St. Catherine (DuBois, PA)
  • 1988 – 1989: St. Anthony (Walston, PA)
  • 1989 – 2002: St. Joseph (Force, PA)
  • 2002 – 2005: Christ the King (Houtzdale, PA)
  • 2002 – 2005: Holy Trinity (Ramney, PA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. Donald Cooper:

Fr. Donald Cooper was ordained a priest in 1963, who served in multiple parishes in the Diocese of Erie. According to media reports, in In 2018, he was named publicly as accused in the PA Grand Jury report. It noted that in 2005, the Diocese received an allegation of sexual abuse against Father Cooper from a 40-year-old victim stating he was abused from 1981-1982.

Cooper was serving as a priest at St. Charles in New Bethlehem where he met the then 16-year-old victim. The victim claimed to be in search of “spiritual fulfillment” at the time as he came from a family disconnected with religion. The victim was very interested in the Catholic faith and Cooper offered him a private catechism to learn more about the religion.

Cooper used this opportunity to take the victim on overnight trips in which they would privately stay in motels & hotels together.  This is when the sexual contact generally occurred as well as in the St. Charles rectory. According to the victim, retired priest Fr. William Smith also resided in the rectory and knew of the sexual abuse of the child but did nothing to stop it.

After the victim reported the abuse in 2005, Monsignor Robert Smith conducted an investigation in which he confronted Cooper regarding the charges. Cooper confirmed that he massaged and showered with the boy, but denied the allegations of sexual contact. Smith determined that the denials were not entirely credibly and that the accuser was likely telling the truth. Cooper was given the option to retire and surrender his ministry faculties voluntarily, which he accepted.  

Cooper died in 2011.  

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 may have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so please do not delay in reaching out to us.

Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.