Florence Fruehan arrest Horowitz Law

Former Palm Coast Doctor Florence Fruehan Arrested on Charges He Abused Elderly Patients

Florence Fruehan was arrested on January 16, 2019 in Flagler County on two felony battery charges involving alleged sexual misconduct perpetrated on elderly patients of his former medical practice. Both alleged victims are older than 65. Under Florida law, battery of a person 65 or older is a felony.  These were not the only reports of sexual misconduct that the Sheriff’s Office receive concerning Florence Fruehan.  Numerous other female patients lodged similar complaints.  According to the arrest affidavit, Freuhan “shows a pattern of violating the rights of female patients that appear to be vulnerable because of specific medications they are prescribed and/or family losses, and their age. He also displays behavior the victims collectively describe as intimidating.”

This is just the latest in a long line of criminal allegations involving Florence Fruehan, age 59, who has surrendered his medical license in August 2018.  He was previously charged with two misdemeanor sexual battery charges in September 2018.  Those charges were dropped by the State Attorney’s office due to concerns related to the statute of limitations.  He was charged with sexual battery in May 2006 after a 26-year-old Palm Coast woman accused him of touching her inappropriately during an exam while her husband was in the room.  Flagler County courthouse records also indicate that  Dr.. Fruehan was the subject of two arrests for misdemeanor battery–on June 23, 1995, and  on Jan. 16, 1996.   The charges were all dropped.

The alleged victims in the criminal charges were 72 and 77 years old at the time of their office visits to Dr. Florence Fruehan. The 72-year-old woman was a long-time patient of Fruehan, as had been her late husband before his death in 2015, and the couple had long considered Fruehan a friend, according to the charging affidavit. They had previously socialized together outside the office. The woman had gone to his office on Pine Cone Drive on March 10, 2016 for a routine physical so she could get a prescription medication.   After the exam, Fruehan allegedly grabbed the woman’s hand and led her to another office, where Fruehan appeared to lock the door after they entered. “Dr. Fruehan unzipped [the woman’s] black vest, unbuttoned the top two buttons of her blouse and began touching her breast on the outside of her bra with his hands,” the arrest report states. “He then grabbed her other breast lifting it up and touching it.” Fruehan then left the room. The woman described herself as being in complete shock. She dressed, left the room and left the clinic as quickly as possible. She found a new doctor and never returned.

The woman’s description of the alleged groping follows much the same pattern that other women have reported, including the woman who originated the complaint to the Department of Health, and the 77-year-old woman who is the alleged victim in the other felony charge against Fruehan.  In that instance, the woman, who suffers from hypertension and required regular check-ups– Fruehan was her primary care physician– had gone to Fruehan’s Urgent Care clinic on March 29, 2017.  Her physical exam began routinely, as it had many times previously. But at one point, Fruehan allegedly placed his stethoscope directly on the woman’s left nipple and pressed down, according to the arrest report. The woman felt uncomfortable as Fruehan had never done that before in all the years he’d been treating her.

When Fruehan told her she could sit back, he made conversation with her unrelated to her health (he advised her to get out more often), then allegedly asked her about her opinion of oral sex, using cruder terms. She told him abruptly: “I have no opinion.” The woman decided to find another doctor and told Fruehan’s staff that she would be leaving the practice.  When Fruehan found out, he called her four times. She saved the messages.

Dr. Florence Fruehan has long history of criminal charges arising from alleged sexual misconduct.  He was previously charged with two misdemeanor sexual battery charges in September 2018.  Those charges were dropped by the State Attorney’s office.  He was charged with sexual battery in May 2006 after a 26-year-old Palm Coast woman accused him of touching her inappropriately during an exam while her husband was in the room.  Flagler County courthouse records also indicate that  Dr.. Fruehan was the subject of two arrests for misdemeanor battery–on June 23, 1995, and  on Jan. 16, 1996.   The charges were all dropped.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who was a patient of Dr. Fruehan and feels that they had an inappropriate experience to call them at (386) 313-4911.

Fr. Patrick B. Vallimont – Diocese of Erie

Father Patrick B. Vallimont
Diocese of Erie

Fr. Patrick Vallimont Horowitz Law

Ordained: May 1974
Laicized: 1977

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Patrick B. Vallimont:

According to the 2018 grand jury report, in September 1976, Father Patrick Vallimont was admitted to St. Vincent Health Center, suffering from severe depression. In a letter to the Vatican dated July 7, 1977, Vallimont requested laicization (removal from the priesthood).

In his laicization petition, he told the Holy See that he had serious doubts about living a life of celibacy. His file noted that he had a short sexual relationship with a 13-year-old female parishioner. The Grand Jury found little to no documentation of this relationship in the subpoenaed files received from the Diocese.

Vallimont ended the relationship with the 13-year-old victim when he was released from St. Vincent Health Center.  There is no indication that law enforcement was ever told about Vallimont’s admission to engaging a 13 year old girl in sexual contact, nor was there any attempt to find out her identity.

Patrick Vallimont married in 1978 and had a daughter.  He is believed to be residing in Union City, Pennsylvania.

Vallimont’s name appears on the Diocese of Erie’s list of credibly accused priests.

Contact us today.

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 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.

Mr. John (Jack) Tome – Diocese of Erie

Seminarian John (Jack) Tome
Diocese of Erie

Ordained: Failed out of seminary

Assigned as follows (as a student):

  • 9/03/1963 – 5/31/1967: St. Marks’s Seminary High School, Erie PA
  • Unknown -5/14/1974: St. Mark’s Major Seminary, Erie, PA

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Seminarian John (Jack) Tome:

According to subpoenaed records from the Diocese of Erie, the career of former seminarian John (Jack) Tome was short-lived.  His file contained only four documents, including three documents reflecting his grades from high school and one expressing concern about his problems communicating with others.

However, the Attorney General’s investigators were able to learn much more about Tome during the grand jury investigation.  Ultimately, the Grand Jury heard testimony from five members of the same family that Tome had abused all of them in the 1970s. The survivors reported that they were poor, dysfunctional, and dependent upon the Diocese of Erie for their mother’s employment at St. Brigid parish when the abuse occurred.

The first victim was a 12-year-old girl living in the Meadville area who was abused in her home in the mid-1970s. She testified that Tome fondled her on one occasion and that Tome represented to her family that he was a Deacon in the Diocese of Erie at the time of the abuse.  A student at a major seminary would work as a deacon prior to his ordination to prepare him for the priesthood – they are basically “priests-in-training” at that point.

The woman said she recalled Tome wearing all black and displaying the trademark white collar that clergy wore. She reported that Tome, whom she knew as “Jack Tome” and Father Stephen Jeselnick, another accused sexual abuser, would come to her home and drink with her parents until late at night.  On one occasion after a night of drinking with her parents, her mother let Tome put her to bed after she had her nighttime bath. She testified that as she lay on her stomach in the top bed of a bunk bed, Tome placed his hand under her nightgown, then under her panties to her buttocks. She told the grand jury that she was frozen with fear as he rubbed and squeezed her naked parts.

The victim recalled that as Tome was fondling her, she held her arms tight to her body with her hands over her face. She didn’t recall when he left the room or how long the assault lasted.

After more of these nighttime assaults, the child gathered the courage to tell her mother what had happened. She said that her mother scolded her for trying to ruin Tome’s life and reputation. She added that she believes that her mother informed Monsignor Karg of the child’s allegations because Tome “disappeared for a while and then came back.”

An Entire Family Terrorized By Tome

The second victim, the younger brother of the first victim, was approximately 8 or 9 years old at the time of his abuse at the hands of the man he knew as Deacon Tome. He explained that at his age he did not know the difference between a Deacon and a Priest, however, he often saw Tome wearing vestments. He testified that he never told anyone of the abuse for over 40 years.

He testified that the abuse began in approximately 1974 and lasted for about a year and a half, occurring as often as once a week. He explained that it consisted of mostly oral sex. The act was performed on him and he was forced to perform the same on Tome. He was emotional as he testified, recalling his sexual abuse and remembering that he saw Tome naked, adding that Tome would often fondle him while they were in the car with his parents.

The second victim testified that he believes that Monsignor Karg knew full well of Tome’s behavior since he would often come over to the family home with Tome and drink with his parents at the same time Tome was there – and at the same time Tome was disappearing from the group for a long time to “say good night” to the kids.

The man testified that once he would fall asleep, Tome would find him and sexually abuse him. He expressed anger and frustration that Karg did nothing about Tome’s behavior.  The victim went on to testify that he feared his little brother also becoming a victim of Tome so he took the abuse, hoping that Tome would not turn his attention to the younger brother.

The Third and Fourth Victims and Sisters

The third and fourth victims are the younger sisters of the first victim and asked that their testimony be read into the Grand Jury by an Agent of the Attorney General’s Office. In an interview with them about their abuse at the hands of Deacon Tome, they expressed the belief that it would be too emotionally traumatic for them to tell their story in person to a group of strangers. They indicated that their interview with the Agents would be the last time they ever wanted to speak of either their abuse or Deacon Tome.

Their abuse occurred separately after they went to bed and after Tome was done drinking with their parents, whom they described as “drunks.” They were very emotional in telling their story, often pausing to regain their composure. Each family member reported that they worked very hard for several years to try to forget about the abuse. Some of the few details they did recall were that it occurred between 1973 and 1979, however, they could not recall their exact ages.

The third victim said she was abused at least 10 times and her sister, the fourth victim, stated that she was abused 5 to 10 times. They each recalled that Tome would sometimes use a pool cue to abuse them.  The third victim reported that Tome would often attempt to penetrate her with the pool cue and that when she would cry out he would use his fingers to digitally penetrate her.

Her sister, the fourth victim said that she did recall the pool cue but had blocked from her memory how Tome had used it on her. She did recall that he used his hands to abuse her.

All three of the sisters recalled how Tome would come to their house to drink and would often play hide and seek or tag with them. The first victim told the Agents that Tome would put his hands all over her and her sisters while playing these games. She said she didn’t think much of it when she was younger, however, after the abuse and getting older, she now sees that this horseplay was Tome’s way of groping the sisters.

The Fifth Victim was Abused by Two Priests

Finally, the Grand Jury heard from the fifth victim, the youngest of the family’s boys, who was between the ages of 10 to 13 years old when he was abused by both Tome and Jeselnick. He was not a member of the family that was terrorized by Tome as their parents drank with the parish pastor.

This man testified that Tome and Jeselnick would both engage him in oral sex and anally rape him. He indicated that Tome’s abuse occurred at his home and that Jeselnick sexually abused him in the rectory of St. Brigid.

He informed the Agents in his interview that he was abused 10 to 15 times, off and on with no regularity. This victim also testified that he observed both men naked and that he witnessed them sexually assaulting his sister, the third victim, as well as his oldest sister, who is now deceased.

It was the opinion of the first victim and her brother, who was not abused because he was in the military during this time frame, that the oldest and now deceased sister was also victimized by Tome and/or Jeselnick when she was a young girl. It is their belief that she was abused more than any of the other family members.

Tome is still alive and believed to be living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Contact us today.

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 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.

Fr. Daniel J. Taylor – Diocese of Erie

Father Daniel J. Taylor
Diocese of Erie

Ordained: 1975

Assigned to Diocese of Tucson: 1981- 1992

Incardinated into Diocese of Tucson: 1992

Suspended by Diocese of Tucson: 1999

Assigned as follows:

  • 1981: St. Frances Cabrini Parish, Tucson, AZ
  • 1984-1985: St. Francis Parish, Superior, AZ
  • 1985: St. Rose of Lima Parish, Safford, AZ
  • 1985-1988: Sacred Heart Parish, Parker, AZ
  • 1988-1991: Assumption Parish, Florence, AZ
  • 1991-1996: Holy Angels Parish, Globe, AZ

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Daniel J. Taylor:

While he was ordained at the Diocese of Erie, Father Daniel J. Taylor was assigned to Tucson Diocese in 1981 for reasons that are not entirely clear.  He remained a priest of the Diocese of Erie on duty outside of the Diocese until he formally became a priest of the Diocese of Tucson in 1992 by incardination.

Around 1996, Taylor was accused of sexual misconduct which had allegedly occurred 20 years ago in the Diocese of Erie. Taylor said that he had taken some people with him on a vacation and they claimed that he touched them during the night. One adult and two teenagers were on the trip. His assignment at the time of the alleged misconduct is unclear.

Taylor was placed on leave by Tucson in 1999 after it learned of the allegations against him during his time in Erie. He is currently forbidden from functioning as a priest.

Taylor is believed to be aline and residing in Tucson, Arizona.

Contact us today.

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 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.

Msgr. Thomas Snyderwine – Diocese of Erie

Monsignor Thomas Snyderwine
Diocese of Erie

Msgr Thomas Synderwine Horowitz Law Msgr Thomas Synderwine Horowitz Law

Ordained: May 1976

Retired (in good standing): August 2012

Faculties restricted: Never

Assigned as follows:

  • 6/05/1968 – 6/03/1971: Weekend Asst., St. Michael, DuBois, PA
  • 6/05/1968 – 6/03/1971: Faculty, DuBois Central Catholic, DuBois, PA
  • 1/01/1970 -6/01/1970: Administrator, St. Joseph, DuBois, PA
  • 6/03/1971 -6/05/1976: Faculty, Erie Cathedral Preparatory, Erie, PA
  • 6/03/1971 -5/31/1974: Weekend Asst., St. Boniface, Erie, PA
  • 5/31/1974 -6/05/1976: Weekend Asst., St. Patrick’s School, Erie, PA
  • 6/05/1976 -9/01/1979: Parochial Vicar, St. Patrick’s, Erie, PA
  • 9/01/1979 -8/17/1992: Weekend Asst., St. George, Erie, PA
  • 9/01/1979 -8/17/1992: Higher Education, Gannon University, Erie PA
  • 8/17/1992 -9/05/1997: Pastor, St Paul, Erie, PA
  • 9/05/1997 -8/10/2012: Pastor, St. Luke’s, Erie, PA
  • 9/01/2009 -8/10/2014: Diocesan Presbyterian Council, Erie, PA
  • 8/10/2012: Retired, Private residence
  • 10/14/2013- 10/13/2018: Other. Sr. Priest Advocate
  • 9/12/2014 – 9/11/2019: Diocesan Board. Presbyterian Council, Erie, PA

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Monsignor Thomas Snyderwine:

According to the grand jury report, sometime in 1996, a fifth-grade girl to the principal of St. Boniface grammar school, a nun, that her godfather, Monsignor Thomas Snyderwine, had taken a shower with her and touched her in ways that she did not like. The child reported that this incident occurred 5 years prior when she stayed overnight at Snyderwine’ s trailer. The girl added that Snyderwine would buy her dresses and shower her with gifts.

Sr. Steff approached Snyderwine and the girl’s parents with the accusation. The parents confirmed the incident and told Steff that they had become friends with Snyderwine, but felt awkward talking to him about the incident. The parents explained that they had informed their daughter to never be alone with him and expressed their gratitude to Steff if she would talk with Snyderwine for them.

When Steff approached Snyderwine with the accusation, she informed him of the incident and threatened to go to Bishop Murphy if this behavior ever happened again. She further admonished Snyderwine by telling him that he had better change his behavior.

This incident resurfaced in 2002 because of the increased scrutiny being cast upon the Catholic church in the United States. Steff wrote Bishop Trautman to inform him of the incident – and her handling of it – 6 years earlier.

In his notes, Bishop Trautman wrote that he would speak to the Diocesan Review Board on the issue and make a decision on Snyderwine’ s future in ministry. However, Steff refused to give the Bishop and the Review Board the name of the family or the victim. Trautman noted that Steff told him, “she would have to pray and think about that and that she would give me (Trautman) the name only after she spoke with them (victim’s parents). ”

In later notes written by Trautman, he documented that the victim was now a freshman in college and the parents (both teachers themselves) did not want to pursue the matter. He also noted that Steff informed him that Snyderwine recently said mass for the family when a death in the family occurred.

Several additional points of interest were found in subpoenaed files, which included Snyderwine’s personnel file. Notably, a handwritten note by Trautman indicated the following: “I contacted [the Diocesan lawyer] who said I am not a mandated reporter in this case.”  Based upon that incorrect advice, Trautman took no steps to inform law enforcement about the allegation.

These documents also contained notes that Trautman took while he was talking with Steff. In one such note, Trautman wrote, “Sister feels the matter is over with and priest deserves a second chance.”

Monsignor Synderwine is currently retired (in good standing) and living in Erie, Pennsylvania.  There is no indication his faculties to minister publicly have been restricted.  His profile on the Diocese of Erie website states only “under investigation.”

Contact us today.

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 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.

Fr. Thomas E. Smith – Diocese of Erie

Father Thomas E. Smith
Diocese of Erie

Ordained: 1967
Health Leave: 1984, 1986-1987
Retired: 2002
Removed from priesthood: 2006

Assigned as follows:

  • 06/16/1967- 08/15/1967: Our Lady of Peace, Erie
  • 09/15/1967- 06/03/1970: Sacred Heart, Erie
  • 06/03/1970- 02/12/1971: St. Patrick, Franklin
  • 02/12/1971- 07/16/1972: Notre Dame, Hermitage
  • 07/16/1972- 06/23/1978: St John the Baptist, Erie
  • 06/23/1978- 06/01/1981: St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Punxsutawney
  • 06/01/1981- 10/23/1984: St. Mary of the Assumption, Frenchville
  • 02/01/1984- 10/01/1984: Health Leave
  • 03/08/1984- 03/08/1989: Presbyterian Council, Erie
  • 10/23/1984`- 02/05/1985: St. Joseph, DuBois
  • 02/05/1985- 03/12/1985: St. Hippolyte, Guys Mills
  • 08/08/1985- 09/16/1985: St. Joseph, Mt. Jewett
  • 09/16/1985- 12/12/1986: St. Teresa, Union City
  • 12/12/1986- 04/22/1987; Health Leave, Girard, Ecclesia Center
  • 04/22/1987- 11/30/1987: Health Leave, Suitland, Maryland, St. Luke’s Institute
  • 12/01/1987- 09/01/1992: St. Joseph, Warren
  • 09/01/1992- 05/01/1994: Holy Rosary, Erie
  • 05/01/1994: Pleasant Ridge Manor, East Mercy Motherhouse
  • 05/01/1994: Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse, Erie
  • 05/01/1994: St. Patrick’s, Erie, St. Hedwig Cluster

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Thomas E. Smith:

According to the grand jury report, Bishop Michael Murphy was first told of child sexual abuse perpetrated by Smith against a 17-year-old boy in January 1984 while at Saint Mary’s. Smith resigned his position in the parish on January 20, 1984.  From February 1984 to October 1984, Smith was placed on “health leave.”  According to his records, he was in residential psychological therapy.

In October 1984, Smith was discharged from his treatment program and reassigned by Bishop Murphy to Saint Joseph’s in DuBois, Pennsylvania until February 1985.

In February 1985, Smith was transferred to Saint Hippolyte in Guys Mills, Pennsylvania for approximately one month.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, but may well have related to allegations of sexual abuse, Smith was again sent to residential psychological therapy from March until October 1985. Official Diocesan records obtained by the Grand Jury show this was designated as a leave of absence.

Upon his release, Smith was sent to Saint Joseph’s in Mount Jewett in August 1985.

Father Smith Continues Abusing Children Even After Two Attempts at Treatment

After about one month at Saint Joseph’s, Smith was transferred to Saint Teresa in Union City,
Pennsylvania where he remained for approximately 10 months. In spite of Smith’s history of child abuse and his need for continued treatment, Murphy continued to permit Smith to minister without restriction- including with children. While at St. Teresa’s, Smith sent a letter to Bishop Murphy describing his accomplishments in the parish and his gift for “working with young people.”

In December 1986, Smith was placed on a leave of absence yet again. This leave of absence continued for almost a year while Smith was returned to residential psychological therapy for a third time.

In January 1987, Diocesan records indicated that the treatment facility informed Murphy that
Smith suffered from a “driven, compulsive, and long-standing” obsession with sexually assaulting children. The facility warned that since his first treatment in 1984, Smith had not stopped sexually assaulting children and that interdiction was needed.

These secret Diocesan records obtained by the Grand Jury showed that, while in treatment, Smith admitted to sexually molesting at least fifteen children. Smith stated that all of his victims were boys, some as young as seven.

This information was provided to Bishop Murphy in November 1987. That same month, Smith was discharged from the facility and assigned to St. Joseph in Warren.

Approximately four months later, in March 1988, Father Glenn Whitman wrote a letter to Smith and advised him of recent conduct that placed him in violation of his aftercare agreement with St. Luke’s Institute, a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests. Regardless, Smith continued in ministry at Saint Joseph’s with the approval of Bishop Murphy, and, beginning in 1990, Bishop Donald Trautman.

In July 1990, Whitman wrote a memo to Bishop Trautman and noted two known parishes affected by Smith’s abuse. He also wrote that “The number of victims is not clearly known.” The same day, Trautman wrote his own memo regarding Smith. In this document, Trautman wrote that he had met with Smith about his problems and that Smith was a person of “candor and sincerity.”

Trautman Continues to Support Father Smith

Bishop Trautman noted that after another year and a half he would consider a new assignment
for Smith because he wanted Smith to complete his aftercare and was fearful of future litigation.

In July 1992, Smith was transferred to the Holy Rosary Parish in Erie, Pennsylvania by Trautman. Smith was very active in the “Isaiah 43” ministry program, a program for Catholic children.

A little over a year after Smith was transferred to Holy Rosary, Trautman received a letter from the parents in the parish.  Smith was sexually abusing their son. They described the abuse suffered by their son when he was only nine years old.

Trautman wrote to St. Luke’s Institute, one of Smith’s treatment providers, and requested information as to the future ministry of Smith. Among other things, Trautman noted that he was “worried about appearances” and that “Father Smith does participate in the Isaiah 43 Program which takes him outside of the Diocese. I have no supervision of his activity away from the Diocese; it is an act of trust in him.”  Trautman explained his sudden interest in Smith’s activities, stating, “The mother of this individual has raised concerns about Father Smith’s involvement in Isaiah 43 since there is youth present for this type of retreat.”

When St. Luke’s Institute responded, Trautman was informed that Smith had failed to report his involvement with the Isaiah 43 program as part of his continued aftercare. Trautman sent a letter to Smith and informed him that his duties at Holy Rosary would be altered. However, Trautman permitted Smith to remain in the Isaiah 43 program until he completed his duties there in March 1994.

Parishioners Were Never Notified of Father Smith’s Abuse

In a January 1994 church bulletin at Holy Rosary, the parish announced the assignment of Father Thomas Smith to several chaplaincy positions in the Erie area beginning at the end of March 1994, but noted that Smith would remain in residence at Holy Rosary with the title of Resident and Weekend Assistant. This assignment permitted Smith to roam freely about the Diocese, serving as a chaplain with all the authority and power of the priesthood.

Moreover, he continued to work and reside at Holy Rosary. The bulletin announcement failed to inform parents that Smith had been in treatment since 1984 due to sexually abusing children, nor did it note that Smith admitted to such conduct with as many as fifteen boys in 1987.

Soon, Smith expressed that he was unhappy with his new assignments as chaplain, and sought a reprieve from retired Bishop Murphy.  Murphy reached out to Bishop Trautman on behalf of Smith (and another priest) seeking greater leniency. Trautman responded and explained that he had not been overly restrictive but that the Diocese of Erie could not adopt a “posture” of appearing “lenient” with accused priests, even if it clearly was.

Father Smith Continues Working with Children Even as a Retired Priest

Ultimately, Smith remained in active ministry until his voluntary retirement in March 2002. In April 1996, Smith wrote to Trautman and asked to be appointed to the board of the local YMCA, as well as to be returned to the Isaiah 43 program.

Trautman was aware that Smith continued to seek contact with children and elected not to warn anyone.

Due to the national coverage of the scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston that began in January 2002, Trautman was soon forced to field letters from concerned parishioners and answer inquiries from the local press.  In January 2002, Trautman wrote to parents of one of Smith’s victims and stated, “I believe appropriate action has been taken in the fact that there is no parish assignment and there is a definite curtailing of his ministry.”

On March 15, 2002, Trautman lied when giving an interview to a news reporter by stating, “we have no priest or deacon or layperson that I know of that has, in any way, a pedophile background.” Smith retired that same month and was still a Roman Catholic priest in good standing with active faculties.

By April 2002, some victims had begun litigation in connection with their past abuse.

Under public pressure, Trautman submitted a formal request to the Vatican on November 10, 2004, and requested the laicization of Smith.

Contrary to nearly every one of Trautman’s previous statements regarding Smith, Trautman disclosed his knowledge of Smith’s to the Vatican in a confidential summary offered in support of the request for laicization. Trautman admitted that the Diocese of Erie had been aware of Smith’s abuses since at least 1987. Trautman disclosed that Smith abused boys between 7 and 12 years of age.

He described Smith’s acts as chilling and noted that Smith used physical force to bring about the offenses and threats to secure the secrecy of his crimes. Trautman wrote that Smith invoked the name of God to justify his actions against his victims while using their faith and the priesthood to manipulate them and secure their silence.

Trautman noted that, even after Smith was told to avoid any and all occasions that would place him in the company of minors, he continued to do so in a public manner. For example, he was photographed assisting high school students in the collection of food for the poor and the photograph was published in the local newspaper. Trautman summarized Smith’s worldview and stated that he saw his victims as objects rather than people.

The Vatican laicized Smith in 2006. Smith’s former flock was never told the reason for his removal. On August 3, 2006, Trautman directed the pastor of St. Hippolyte to make the following notation in the record of the parish with respect to Smith: “Dismissed from the clerical state on June 10, 2006, by Pope Benedict XVI. Nothing else need be noted.”

Thomas E. Smith is still living and resides in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Contact us today.

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 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.

Fr. Samuel B. Slocum – Diocese of Erie

Father Samuel B. Slocum
Diocese of Erie

Samuel B. Slocum Horowitz Law
Samuel B. Slocum Horowitz LawSamuel B. Slocum Horowitz Law
Ordained: 1980

Sick leave: 1995-1997

Arrested/Suspended from ministry: 2011

Laicized: 2016

Assigned as follows:

  • 6/0519/80 -8/12/1983: Secondary Education, DuBois C.C. High School, DuBois, PA
  • 6/05/1980 -8/12/1983: Weekend Asst. St. Michael, DuBois, PA
  • 8/12/1983 -6/14/1985: Secondary Education, Elk Co. Catholic St. Mary’s, PA
  • 8/12/1983 -6/14/1985: Resident at Faculty House, Elk Co. Catholic School, St Mary’s, PA
  • 11/15/1984- 6/14/1985: Resident at Holy Rosary, Johnsonburg, PA
  • 1/05/1985 -6/14/1985: Administrator, St. Benedict, Ridgway, PA
  • 6/14/1985 -8/07/1989: Secondary Education, Erie Cathedral Preparatory, Erie, PA
  • 6/14/1985 -8/07/1989: Weekend Asst. Holy Trinity, Erie, PA
  • 8/07/1989 -11/01/1994: Secondary Education, Bradford Central Christian High School, Bradford, PA
  • 8/07/1989 -11/19/1990: Weekend Asst., St. Bernard, Eldred, PA
  • 11/19/1990- 11/01/1994: Administrator, St. Bernard, Eldred, PA
  • 11/01/1994- 11/0319/97: Administrator, St. Bernard, Eldred, PA
  • 11/01/1994- 8/01/1995: Secondary Education, Bradford Central Christian High School, Bradford, PA
  • 8/01/1995- 12/15/1997: Sick Leave
  • 1/26/1997 -6/30/1999: Administrator, St. Theresa Shinglehouse
  • 11/0319/97- 7/31/2001: Pastor with residence, St. Raphael, Eldred, PA
  • 8/01/2001 -4/01/2011: Pastor with residence, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Ephrata, PA
  • 8/01/2001 -4/01/2011: Pastor, St. Francis of Assisi, Bradford, PA
  • 2001-2011: Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Lewis Run, PA
  • 4/01/2011: Leave of Absence/Suspension

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Samuel B. Slocum:

Father Samuel B. Slocum testified before the Grand Jury in September 2017, detailing his days as a priest in the Diocese of Erie. Previous to his 2017 testimony, a jury found him guilty of the crimes of concealment of the whereabouts of a child and corruption of minors in 2012.

Slocum testified that in 1980 he had been reported to Monsignor Heberlein by a fellow priest for an alleged inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old girl. In this same year, Slocum also recalled having a relationship with a 16-year-old boy. He testified that he would not call his relationships with these children inappropriate. He said that he did get some sort of emotional or sexual gratification from relationships with children, however.

Slocum testified that while he never touched the girl, he did engage in physical wrestling, tickling, and touching of the young boy. These children were not listed as victims in the Grand Jury report.

Father Slocum Begins Grooming His Victims

Slocum befriended his intended victims by gaining the trust of their parents and then engaging the children in inappropriate relationships or what is now known as “grooming”. Slocum engaged in grooming behavior with four children before he was finally arrested.

When Slocum described his relationships with the first, 14-year-old victim and second, 17-year-old victim, he testified to the Grand Jury that these girls were in love with him and wrote him love letters.

When questioned about groping the second victim’s buttocks and upper thigh, Slocum summed up the touching as accidental in nature. He informed the Grand Jury that to escape the accusation by the second victim, he enlisted the assistance of a third party to apply pressure to her and have her recant her accusation against him. Slocum testified that he had this mutual friend talk to the victim’s family because, “I felt like I was saving my neck, to be honest.”

Slocum added that he and the second victim’s family remain friendly to this day and exchange Christmas cards. Diocesan records showed that Bishop Trautman and the Diocese of Erie opened an investigation into the groping incident and quickly closed it in less than 2 days.

Father Slocum’s Third Victim

Slocum testified in the Grand Jury about the third victim’s case, a 15-year-old victim for whom Slocum was eventually convicted of felony and misdemeanor charges relating to grooming behavior in 2011. Slocum admitted to buying the friendship of the victim and others with gifts and allowing them to stay at his residence in the rectory, even when their parents forbid it.

Slocum taught the third victim how to hide their communications on social media by deleting text and photographs. Some of the texts that Slocum sent to the third victim would later be used against him in court and are sexually suggestive in nature. Slocum texted the victim, “I always knew there was something special about you, but I never knew what it was, Majic,” and, “I’m trying not to say bad stuff but your [sic] pushing it.”

In the third victim’s case, Slocum bought him items from Abercrombie and Fitch and would later make him negotiate to get them. In one text exchange, Slocum informed the victim that a package had arrived. When the victim texted back asking what it was, Slocum responded that the Abercrombie and Fitch package is now in.

Slocum texted, “It’s in my bedroom, it came from the post office today. You can start negotiations anytime…”

Slocum claimed that the victim memorized his credit card number and made the purchases himself. Slocum asserted that he never reported this theft to law enforcement or the boy’s parents because he did not want to get the boy in trouble. It also came out in court proceedings that Slocum hid the whereabouts of the third victim from his parents and coached him to lie to his parents.

A Pattern of Deception Before the Third Victim

This behavior that Slocum exhibited in the aforementioned cases was again apparent in 1995 when the Diocese of Erie became aware of another target of Slocum’ s grooming. In a letter, Monsignor Charles Kaza outlines Slocum’s “unhealthy relationship” with a high school senior.

The letter described how Slocum worked late hours with this student outside the school grounds, offered the student cash, and invited him to drink beer. The letter went on to describe how the victim felt uncomfortable with the level of Slocum’s closeness and that Slocum routinely violated his personal space. Slocum denied any physical sexual contact with this student but admitted that the relationship certainly filled a void in his life.

Father Slocum Enters Treatment

In an attempt to get Slocum help for his inappropriate behavior toward children, the Diocese of Erie sent him to psychotherapy on two occasions. His first stint in therapy occurred in 1991 at the Diocese’s own treatment facility in Erie called the Ecclesiastic Center.

There Slocum received treatment that the Diocese called “Growth Counseling,” along with fellow accused pedophiles Rev. Thomas Smith and Rev. Gary Ketchum.

Slocum’s second stint at psychotherapy occurred in 1995 at the St. Michael Center in St. Louis, Missouri, which is an inpatient facility.

Slocum was sent there 8 days after Monsignor Kaza’s letter to Trautman was sent regarding the student discussed above. Upon his discharge from the St. Michael Treatment Center in January of 1997, Slocum was placed back into ministry, where he remained until 2011. In 2011, the allegations that led to Slocum’ s eventual arrest surfaced and the Diocese placed him on suspension until he was laicized by Rome and removed from ministry.

In the documents provided to the Grand Jury, nowhere was it found that Trautman informed his superiors in Rome that Slocum had a history dating back to 1980 involving four other victims. Slocum’s dismissal from the ministry was based solely on his criminal arrest and the incidents involving the third victim.

Additionally, no evidence was ever found that the Diocese of Erie had ever notified law enforcement of Slocum’s predatory behavior, nor was there any evidence found that the Diocese notified law enforcement at the time of the investigation of the third victim that Slocum had a predatory history that dated back 30 years.

Slocum was convicted in 2012 and given two years’ probation. His laicization was announced in November 2016.

Slocum currently resides in Bradford, Pennsylvania.

Contact us today.

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 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.

Fr. Charles Sheets – Diocese of Erie

Father Charles Sheets
Diocese of Erie

Ordained: Unknown
Death: October 2009

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Jude the Apostle (Erie, PA)
  • Holy Rosary (Erie, PA)
  • St. Joseph (Sharon, PA)
  • St. Anthony of Padua (Walston, PA)
  • St. Adrian (Delancey, PA)
  • St. Joseph (Anita, PA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Charles Sheets:

Father Charles Sheets is listed on a Diocese of Erie of priests who, but for their death, would be on the list of people prohibited from employment due to allegations of sexual abuse made against them. The Diocese of Erie has not provided any details about the allegation(s) made against him, including the age/gender of the victim(s) and Sheets’ assignment(s) at the time of his misconduct.

According to the Diocese of Erie, the priests appearing on its list of persons accused of misconduct, were, “credibly accused of actions that, in the diocese’s judgment, disqualify that person from working with children.  Such actions could include the use of child pornography, furnishing pornography to minors, corruption of minors, violating a child-protection policy, failure to prevent abuse that they knew to be happening, and — in some cases — direct physical sexual abuse or sexual assault of minors.  Allegations were corroborated by secular legal proceedings, canon law proceedings, self-admission by the individual, or threshold evidence (as defined in the Child Protection Policy).”

Sheets died in Sumterville, Florida in October 2009 at the age of 65.

Contact us today.

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 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.

Fr Charles R Schmitt Horowitz Law

Fr. Charles R. Schmitt – Diocese of Erie

Father Charles R. Schmitt
Diocese of Erie

Fr Charles R Schmitt Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1959
Retired: 2006
Removed from ministry: September 2018

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Charles R. Schmitt:

In September 2018, the Diocese of Erie announced that retired priest Father Charles R. Schmitt had been accused of sexual abuse in the 1960s.  No other information was offered regarding the details of the allegation, including the age/gender of the victim or Schmitt’s assignment at the time of the abuse.

Schmitt retired as pastor of St. Gabriel Parish in Port Allegany in 2006. After that, he served as the temporary administrator in Emporium, Tidioute, and Emlenton, as is the case with retired priests who wish to remain in limited ministry.

Schmitt’s name now appears on the Diocese of Erie’s list of credibly accused priests.  He is forbidden to function publicly as a priest.  According to the Diocese of Erie, those “named on this list was credibly accused of actions that, in the diocese’s judgment, disqualify that person from working with children.  Such actions could include the use of child pornography, furnishing pornography to minors, corruption of minors, violating a child-protection policy, failure to prevent abuse that they knew to be happening, and — in some cases — direct physical sexual abuse or sexual assault of minors.  Allegations were corroborated by secular legal proceedings, canon law proceedings, self-admission by the individual, or threshold evidence (as defined in the Child Protection Policy).”

The Diocese has not specified what misconduct Schmitt was accused of committing.

Schmitt is now 86 years old.

Contact us today.

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 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.

Fr. Raymond Smart – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Father Raymond Smart

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Fr. Raymond Smart Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1970

Absent on Sick Leave: 1995-2002

Retired (voluntarily): 2002

Faculties restricted: 2017

Found unsuitable for ministry: 2019

Assigned as follows:

  • Saint Helena Parish, Center Square (1970-1974)
  • Newman Chaplain, Montgomery County Community College (1971-1974)
  • Saint Pius X High School, Pottstown (1974-1982)
  • Saint Hubert Catholic High School for Girls, Philadelphia (1982-1983)
  • Chaplain, Saint Gabriel’s Hall, Audubon (1983-1989)
  • Bishop Kenrick High School, Norristown (1983-1991)
  • Bishop Shanahan High School, Downingtown (1991-1995)
  • health leave (1995-2002)
  • retired (2002)
  • priestly faculties restricted (2017)
  • found unsuitable for ministry (2019)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Raymond Smart:

According to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, “Reverend Raymond W. Smart has not served in any parish or school since 1995 due to poor health. He has been retired and living in a private residence since 2002. In April 2011 the Archdiocese of Philadelphia received an allegation from a third party complainant that Father Smart had sexually abused a minor. This allegation was referred to law enforcement and no criminal charges were filed. No announcements regarding this allegation were made as the complainant did not provide information as to where the abuse was alleged to have occurred.”

In January 2016, the Archdiocese received an allegation that Father Smart had violated The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries. This matter related to alleged misconduct with an adult and did not constitute alleged criminal activity.  His ministry remained unrestricted.

Smart remained a priest in good standing, limited only by his “poor health,” until he was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor child a second time in 2017.  The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has not offered many details about the alleged misconduct, except to say that it is alleged to have occurred in the early 1980s.  Smart’s exact assignment, as well as the age and gender of the victim have not been made public.

In January 2019, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that its internal review board determined that the 2017 allegation was “credible and substantiated.”  Presumably, Smart will now accept a life of “supervised prayer and penance” in lieu of involuntary laicization, and live his remaining days in a retirement home for priests.

Smart is 74 years old.

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.