Tag: Allentown Sexual Abuse Attorney

Horowitz Law Launches Comprehensive Database of Accused Priests in the Diocese of Allentown

Diocese of Allentown logo

Database Includes Individual Profiles (with Photos) on Dozens of Catholic Priests in Allentown

Unlike Other Dioceses in Pennsylvania, Allentown Has Announced It Will Arbitrarily Exclude Claims Against Lay Employees Accused of Abuse

ALLENTOWN, PA – Adam Horowitz, a nationally-recognized advocate for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, announces the launch of a new database of clergy and lay employees accused of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Allentown.  The database includes 53 priests as of today, and is believed to be the most comprehensive list of accused offenders available. This is far more than were identified in the groundbreaking 2018 grand jury report of its investigation into the Diocese of Allentown.  

For the benefit of survivors and journalists alike, Horowitz and his team have painstakingly prepared individual profiles on dozens of accused offenders to consolidate available information about their backgrounds, alleged crimes, and, in the case of offenders who are still alive, their current locations.  Many of these profiles include photographs that are not available anywhere else. Horowitz’s website contains similar databases for each Pennsylvania diocese.

The Allentown list was compiled using the names identified in the 2018 Grand Jury report, the Diocese of Allentown’s lists of accused individuals, media reports, and court records.  

The database also includes priests who belong to religious orders, such as the Carmelites.  Unlike his counterparts in the Diocese of Scranton and the Diocese of Erie, the Bishop of Allentown has arbitrarily chosen to bar anyone abused by non-clergy lay employees, such as teachers, youth ministers, and coaches, from recovering from the fund.  This prohibition applies even when the offender committed the abuse in a church or school run by the Diocese of Allentown.

The deadline to file claims with the Diocese of Allentown’s voluntary compensation fund – which is the only legal recourse available to most survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Allentown – is September 30, 2019.  

The database of accused priests is available at:

https://adamhorowitzlaw.com/who-we-sue/church-sexual-abuse/pennsylvania/diocese-of-allentown/

Horowitz says the database will be continuously updated as the names of more accused individuals become public.  You are encouraged to bookmark the link for easy access to the information.

For more information, contact us at (954) 641-2100 or at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

 

Easton Allentown Diocese Horowitz Law

The Shocking History of Priest Abuse in Easton, PA

Easton, Pennsylvania, located on the Delaware River across from New Jersey, is a town of about 30,000 people.  It is home to five Catholic parishes, a surprisingly large number given the small size of the town.  It is also the home of Notre Dame High School, one of the largest schools operated by the Diocese of Allentown.  The parishes and schools draw people from the surrounding Lehigh River Valley and northern New Jersey.

Easton also has the dubious distinction of being “ground zero” of the child sexual abuse crisis in the Diocese of Allentown.  The August 2018 grand jury report identified more than a dozen priests who have been assigned to the parishes of Easton throughout the history of the Diocese, which was formed in 1961.

Through our own investigation, we have identified 54 priests accused of abuse in the Diocese of Allentown – and discovered that almost half of those men were assigned to one or more parishes in Easton at some point during their career, and as recently as 2014.  Most of these 26 men appear on the Diocese of Allentown’s list of credibly accused priests.

St. Anthony of Padua

St. Bernard

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

St. Joseph

St. Michael

Notre Dame High School

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown.  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 Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Easton Allentown Diocese Horowitz Law

The Shocking History of Priest Abuse in Easton, Pennsylvania

Easton, Pennsylvania, located on the Delaware River across from New Jersey, is a town of about 30,000 people.  It is home to five Catholic parishes, a surprisingly large number given the small size of the town.  It is also the home of Notre Dame High School, one of the largest schools operated by the Diocese of Allentown.  The parishes and schools draw people from the surrounding Lehigh River Valley and northern New Jersey.

Easton also has the dubious distinction of being “ground zero” of the child sexual abuse crisis in the Diocese of Allentown.  The August 2018 grand jury report identified more than a dozen priests who have been assigned to the parishes of Easton throughout the history of the Diocese, which was formed in 1961.

Through our own investigation, we have identified 54 priests accused of abuse in the Diocese of Allentown – and discovered that almost half of those men were assigned to one or more parishes in Easton at some point during their career, and as recently as 2014.  Most of these 26 men appear on the Diocese of Allentown’s list of credibly accused priests.

St. Anthony of Padua

St. Bernard

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

St. Joseph

St. Michael

Notre Dame High School

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown.  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 Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Reading Central Allentown Horowitz Law

Reading Central Catholic High School (Reading, PA)

Reading Central Catholic High School, which closed in 2011, was one of the Diocese of Allentown’s largest private schools.  It has also been home to a shockingly large number of priests the Diocese of Allentown says have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse since it opened in 1939.

Through our own investigation, we have identified the following priests who have been assigned to Reading Central (as recently as 2010) and who were later accused of child sexual abuse:

For more information on each priest, click on their names.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown.  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 Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

 

Notre Dame Allentown Horowitz Law

Notre Dame High School (Easton, PA)

Easton, Pennsylvania, is home to one of the Diocese of Allentown’s largest schools, Notre Dame High School.  Established in 1957, Notre Dame has educated countless children in Eastern Pennsylvania and even parts of New Jersey.

Notre Dame also has the dubious distinction as an assignment held by a staggeringly high number of priests accused of sexually abusing children.  The following men, most of whom appear on the Diocese of Allentown’s list of credibly accused priests, were all assigned as teachers or administrators at Notre Dame High School at some point during their careers:

Easton, a town of approximately 30,000 people, is also home to five Catholic parishes. For more information on accused priests assigned to Easton’s parishes, click here

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown.  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 Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

 

Fr. Felix Fink (Diocese of Allentown)

Fr. Felix Fink

Diocese of Allentown (Pennsylvania)

Ordained: 1919

Died: 1966

Not much is known about Fr. Fink’s history in the Diocese of Allentown.  The Diocese of Allentown publicly stated that it received an allegation of sexual abuse by Fink sometime after his death in 1966, but it offered no details as to the nature of timing of the allegation.  Fink was not the subject of the 2018 grand jury investigation and report; his identity as an accused priest was first disclosed by the Diocese of Allentown itself.

According to his obituary, Fink was the pastor of St. Bartholomew’s in Brockton, Pennsylvania, at the time of his death following an extended illness.  Originally ordained for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, he became a priest of the Diocese of Allentown when it was erected in 1961.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown.  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 Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr. Joseph D. Galko (Diocese of Allentown)

Father Joseph D. Galko

Diocese of Allentown

Ordained: 1980

Placed on Administrative Leave: Feb. 1988

Dismissed from priesthood (laicized): June 2010

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Paul (Reading, PA)                                1980-1982
  • St. Anne (Bethlehem, PA)                           1982-1983
  • St. Ambrose (Schuykill Haven, PA)             1983-1986
  • St. Bernard (Easton, PA)                            1986-1987

Summary of Allegations Against Fr. Joseph Galko:

According to records reviewed by the grand jury during its investigation, Galko was ordained by the Diocese of Allentown at the age of 36, which is significantly older than most priests.  The exact reasons why he was ordained at an advanced age have not been disclosed publicly, and, while they could be innocuous, it could also be indicative of red flags in Galko’s history that caused concerns about his fitness for ministry.  The exact reasons why would be the subject of discovery in any civil lawsuit that would be filed against the Diocese of Allentown.

As early as 1984, the Diocese of Allentown had actual knowledge that Galko was sexually abusing his parishioners.  He admitted to having sexual contact with an 18-year-old parishioner, and also admitted to engaging in mutual oral copulation another male (age undisclosed in the grand jury report) at the rectory at St. Ambrose.  When pressed, he admitted to “occasional occurrences” of similar behavior with males before, during, and after his ordination, including while he was in seminary.  He remained at St. Ambrose for another two years after these admissions.

In 1987, the Diocese of Allentown received a report that Galko was spending “too much” time with the altar boys at St. Bernard’s parish, followed by a second report from a fellow priest that Galko’s interactions with teenage boys concerned him.  Based upon our firm’s experience, both of these reports are classic red flags – expressed in code words – that children are being abused.  Indeed, Galko was removed from the parish and sent for inpatient treatment at a facility in Downington, Pennsylvania, where many priests accused of sexual abuse were sent by dioceses across the country.  One of his therapist evaluators reported to the Diocese of Allentown that Galko was a pathological liar and that his prognosis for improvement was grim, according to the grand jury report.

In 2002, the Diocese of Allentown was approached by a young man who alleged that he was sexually abused by Galko in 1980 or 1981, when he was 17 or 18 years old, after Galko got him drunk in his rectory room.  He reported fondling of his penis and buttocks on multiple occasions.

In 2007, another victim approached the Diocese of Allentown and reported that he was abused as a 13-year-old at St. Anne’s School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  The was asked to carry some things to the rectory, where he met Galko, who quickly befriended the boy.  While the boy was in 8th grade at the school, Galko often had him come to the rectory, where he plied the boy with alcohol and engaged him in mutual fondling/stimulation once the boy was intoxicated.  According to the documents reviewed by the grand jury, Galko admitted to the allegation when confronted by the Diocese of Allentown. We believe this admission likely served as the basis for the involuntary laicization petition sent to the Vatican by the Diocese of Allentown.

That Galko was on administrative leave for 22 years (1988-2010), no doubt receiving benefits from the Diocese of Allentown, is particularly disturbing.  Despite the knowledge that he posed a danger to those around him, the Diocese of Allentown no doubt did little to no monitoring of Galko during this time period (based upon statements made by the Diocese of Allentown in the case of other priests that there is no diocesan monitoring of accused priests not in active ministry), and left the Allentown community vulnerable to additional abuse.

Galko is believed to be alive and still residing in the Allentown area.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown.  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 Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr. James F. Gaffney (Diocese of Allentown)

Father James F. Gaffney

Diocese of Allentown

Ordained: 1985

Sick Leave/Inpatient treatment: 1992, 1995

Left ministry: 2002

Laicized (removed from priesthood): 2015

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Ursula (Fountain Hill, PA)                                               1985-1987
  • Reading Central Catholic High School (Reading, PA)         1987-1991
  • St. Catherine of Siena (Mt. Penn, PA)                                   1987-1992
  • Absent on Sick Leave (Serv. of Paraclete)                            1992
  • St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Easton, PA)                           1992-1995
  • Absent on Sick Leave (Serv. of Paraclete)                            1994-1995
  • Notre Dame of Bethlehem (Bethlehem, PA)                         1995
  • St. Mary of the Assumption (Coaldale, PA)                           1995
  • Six Shenandoah, PA parishes                                               1995-1999
  • St. Patrick (Pottsdale, PA)                                                     1999-2002

Summary of Allegations against Father James Gaffney:

Gaffney was ordained in 1985 after taking an extended leave of absence from seminary to consider his calling to the priesthood.  According to the grand jury report, Gaffney wrote to the Diocese of Allentown in 1980 to tell officials that he was “convinced beyond all doubt that I need time off and will not return to the Roman seminary or any other seminary this year.”  In 1982, Diocese of Allentown evaluators recommended dropping Gaffney from priestly training all together, yet he was eventually ordained.

Also according to the documents reviewed by the grand jury, Gaffney was the subject of numerous complaints of sexual misconduct throughout the 1980s and 1990s.  He was reportedly engaging in sexual contact with several vulnerable adult women that he was counseling.  It appears from the August 2018 report that these allegations led to Gaffney undergoing inpatient sexual offender treatment at the notorious Servants of the Paraclete treatment facility in Jemez Springs, NM.  However, in our experience, it is unusual for a priest accused of sexual misconduct with adult women, whom the Church views as capable of consensual relationships, to be sent for inpatient treatment even once.  Typically, inpatient treatment at the Servants of the Paraclete is reserved for priests who have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors for whom all other attempts at “correction” have failed.

In 1999, a woman approached the Diocese of Allentown to report that she was sexually abused by Gaffney as a minor while he was assigned to St. Ursula’s parish in the mid-1980s.  She did not provide more details in her report, so no action was taken.  In 2002, her mother approached the Diocese of Allentown to renew the report, and provided additional information.  Specifically, she reported that her daughter was a 14-year-old 8th grader working in the rectory at the time of the abuse.  Under the pretext of measuring her body parts, Gaffney made the girl undress and touched her all over.  Gaffney denied the allegations when confronted by the Diocese of Allentown, but decided to take a leave of absence from which he never returned.

In 2002, another victim filed a civil lawsuit against the Diocese of Allentown alleging that she was sexually abused by Gaffney while she attended Reading Central Catholic High School in 1990.  She was undergoing counseling with Gaffney while her parents went through a divorce, which he used to exploit her into a sexual relationship.  She reported that Gaffney would often discuss graphic sexual topics, which progressed to fondling and, eventually, sexual intercourse with the girl.

In late 2004, a third woman reported to the Diocese of Allentown that she was abused by Gaffney from approximately 1986-1987 at St. Catherine of Siena in Mt. Penn.  She too worked in the rectory answering phones and was in counseling with Gaffney due to an unstable home life.  She reported hugs from Gaffney that soon turned inappropriate, “which led to sexual arousal.”  Presumably, the grand jury is suggesting that he became erect and rubbed his body against the girl.

The Diocese of Allentown found two of the three allegations to be credible upon review, and, according to documents reviewed during the grand jury investigation, concluded that the second allegation was “entitled to a presumption of truth” as well.

Though Gaffney took a nine-year leave of absence from the Diocese of Allentown, he continued to receive benefits.  During that time he worked as a college professor, and the Diocese of Allentown never disclosed his history of misconduct.  In 2011, the Diocese of Allentown petitioned the Vatican for Gaffney’s removal from the priesthood (laicization), which was eventually granted.

Gaffney testified before the grand jury in 2016 and 2017, at which time he admitted to sexual contact with at least one female student.  When asked point blank if he had sexual contact with other children during his priesthood, he answered, “yes, it is possible.”  He blamed a bad memory for his inability to recall specifically one way or the other, though he was able to provide significant details of his sexual contact with the girl he admitted to abusing.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown.  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 Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr. Thomas J. Benestad (Diocese of Allentown)

Msgr. Thomas Benestad

Diocese of Allentown (Pennsylvania)

Ordained: 1970

Leaves of Absence: 1978, 2001, 2006, 2007

Retired/named Pastor Emeritus: 2009

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Bernard (Easton, PA)                1970-1973
  • Lafayette College Newman Ctr.            1970-1973
  • Notre Dame High School (Easton, PA)        1970-1973
  • St. Thomas More (Allentown, PA)            1973-1978
  • Leave of Absence                    1978
  • Holy Rosary (Reading, PA)                1978-1980
  • St. Bernard (Easton, PA)                1980-1988
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Bethlehem, PA)    1988-2001
  • Sabbatical                        2001-2002
  • St. Francis of Assisi (Allentown, PA)        2002-2005
  • Notre Dame of Bethlehem (Bethlehem, PA)    2005-2006
  • Leave of Absence                    2006-2007
  • Ascension (Boca Raton, Florida)            2007-2009

Summary of allegations against Father Thomas Benestad:

Benestad retired from ministry in 2009 and continues to reside in the Palm Beach area of Florida, where he remains active in ministry.

According to the 2018 grand jury report, in 2011, the Diocese of Allentown received a report from a man who claimed that Benestad sexually abused him from 1981 until 1983 (ages 9-11).  A police investigation of the man’s allegation led to conclusion that he was reporting credible allegations. More specifically, he reported that Benestad engaged him in forced mutual oral sex under threat of punishment during his CCD classes.  However, because the statute of limitations had expired, Benestad has never been charged in the case.

The grand jury report also mentions that other allegations have been made against Benestad, without providing any additional details as to the context of the reports (time frame, types of contact, ages of the victims, etc.).  Benestad has denied all of the allegations.

Based upon our firm’s experience with inner workings of the Catholic hierarchy, there are some definite red flags in Benestad’s assignment history that suggest he may have been the subject of multiple sexual misconduct allegations during his ministry in the Diocese of Allentown.  For example, multiple leaves of absences and sabbatical are highly unusual for a priest who has never been accused of sexual misconduct. The timing of them, followed by his transfer to South Florida to end his career, suggest that he may have been required to undergo some type of evaluation and, later, treatment.  Additional clues could be contained in his personnel file, which has never been made public, so we cannot say conclusively whether that is the case. Benestad’s personnel files would be the subject of discovery in civil litigation against the Diocese of Allentown.

The Diocese reports that it has twice requested that Benestad be laicized (formally removed from the priesthood) but its requests have been denied.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown.  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 Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr. Thomas J. Bender (Diocese of Allentown)

Fr. Thomas J. Bender

Diocese of Allentown (Pennsylvania)   

               

Ordained: 1961

Suspended from ministry: 1988

Convicted of child molestation: 1988

Retired: 2002

Laicized (removed from priesthood): 2005

Re-arrested and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison: 2006

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Joseph (Ashland, PA)                    1961-1962
  • St. Joseph (Girardville, PA)                    1962-1965
  • Holy Family (New Philadelphia, PA)            1965-1966
  • Marian High School    (Tamaqua, PA)            1965-1966
  • Nativity High School (Pottsville, PA)            1966-1971
  • St. Kiern (Heckscherville, PA)                1966-1970
  • St. Mary (St. Clair, PA)                    1970
  • St. John the Baptist (Pottsville, PA)            1970-1971
  • Bethlehem Catholic High School (Bethlehem, PA)    1971
  • St. Francis Orphanage (Orwigsburg, PA)            1971-1972
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel (Gordon, PA)            1972-1982
  • Most Blessed Sacrament (Bally, PA)            1982-1986
  • St. Francis of Assisi (Allentown, PA)            1986-1987
  • St. Anthony of Padua (Easton, PA)            June-July 1987
  • Regional Director, Council of Catholic Nurses        July 1987

Summary of allegations against Fr. Thomas Bender:

Bender also served on the Diocesan Tribunal from 1973-1982, the Liturgical Commission from 1983-1987, and on the Diocesan Ministry to Aging Board for a brief time following his arrest in 1987.

According to the 2018 Grand Jury Investigation, the Diocese of Allentown had actual knowledge of Bender’s sexual misconduct with children as early as 1972, when a state trooper, who was also a Catholic deacon, reported that Bender was found in a car with a male student from Nativity High School, and that neither was wearing pants.  According to the Diocese investigation, Bender admitted to misconduct with the boy but said it was the first time he had tried anything like that before. He continued in ministry unrestricted.

In 1984, the Diocese received a report from another boy that he had been molested by Bender in 1981, when he was in 7th grade.  He alleged both oral and anal sex with the priest. Bender admitted to the allegations when confronted by Diocese of Allentown officials.  The boy later filed a civil lawsuit in 1987, which led to both a civil settlement and a criminal investigation of Bender. In 1988, Bender was criminally convicted of abusing the boy after he again admitted to it.  He was given 7 years probation and ordered (by the Court, not the Diocese of Allentown) to avoid any occupations that would involve contact with children. Bender remained a priest of the Diocese of Allentown until he elected to retire in 2002.  He retired with full benefits.

In 2004, the Diocese received additional allegations against Bender, all alleging abuse in the 1960s.

In 2006, while still receiving retirement benefits from the Diocese of Allentown, Bender was arrested in Long Island, New York, after traveling to meet what he believed was a 14 year old boy for sex.  It was, instead, an undercover detective. At the time of his arrest, Bender had condoms, beer, porn, a digital camera, and a laptop computer in his possession. He was charged with attempted sexual acts and sentenced to 10 years of incarceration following a plea deal.

Pursuant to the terms of his 2014 prison release, Bender is on lifetime probation and will be required to register as a sex offender in the State of New York, despite the fact that he continues to reside in the Allentown, Pennsylvania area.

The photographs depict Bender in 1970, while assigned to Nativity High School as a teacher and guidance counselor, and more recently on his New York sex offender registration.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown.  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 Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.