Father Anthony J. Cipolla
- 1972-1974: St. Bernard Church (Mt. Lebanon, PA)
- 1974-1975: St. John Fisher Church (Churchill Borough, PA)
- 1974-1975: Immaculate Conception (Washington, PA)
- 1975-1975: St. Philomena (Beaver Falls, PA)
- 1976-1978: St. Agatha (Bridgeville, PA)
- 1976-1978: St. Francis Xavier (Pittsburgh, PA)
- 1978-1983: St. Canice (Knoxville, PA)
- 1983-1988: McGuire Memorial Home for Exceptional Children (New Brighton, PA)
- 1988-1988: St. Michael’s Institute (New York, NY)
- 1989-2002: Leave of Absence
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Father Anthony J. Cipolla:
According to a multitude of documents subpoenaed from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Fr. Anthony Cipolla was accused of several sexual assault cases throughout his 25-year career. He bounced around numerous parishes throughout the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Archdiocese of New York.
In 1978, Fr. Cipolla was accused of sexually abusing two minor boys while assigned to St. Francis Xavier in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The victims were brothers, the first of which was nine years old, and the second was 12. Their mother called the Pittsburgh Police Department after they came home crying and finally told her what had occurred, even though they said they had been forced to swear on a Bible that they wouldn’t tell anyone. After the police responded, the first victim was examined at the hospital where sexual lubricant was found in his underwear. The brothers reported that the Fr. Cipolla gave them physical exams and touched them inappropriately. Detectives eventually obtained an arrest warrant for Father Anthony J. Cipolla based upon the boys’ statements.
The victims’ mother reported the abuse but allegedly withdrew her report due to harassment and threats by Church officials. The charges were dropped after the family was “harassed and threatened by church officials” and Diocese of Pittsburgh attorneys, who told her to “let the church handle it.” The attorneys told the boys’ mother that she would be the one who damaged them if she pursued charges because they would be more embarrassed having to tell “hundreds” of people their story. The Diocese of Pittsburgh attorneys promised the mother that they would “tear [the children’s] testimony apart.” He then asked her why she wanted to “hurt the church.” According to the mother, the boys heard all of these threats from the Diocese of Pittsburgh lawyers and were scared “half to death” to move forward with the prosecution.
In addition, Fr. Cipolla himself called their home and showed up at their house to try to speak with one of the victims to get the family to drop the charges. Members of the community also harassed the family. Their car windows were shot out, a car tire was slashed, an apartment window was broken, and the first victim was slapped in the face and told he was “telling lies on a poor blessed priest.” The family also received threatening letters and phone calls. This harassment caused the family to move out of Pennsylvania.
When the charges were dropped in 1978, over the police investigators’ objection, Fr. Cipolla was reassigned to St. Canice, where he abused another boy. After that, he was assigned as a chaplain at a residential facility for children with special needs.
In 1988, the third victim came forward and described being inappropriately touched by Cipolla when he was an altar boy at St. Canice. The priest would put talcum powder all over his body and hug him when they were in the same bed. Initially, the police were not informed, but later that same year, the third victim reported the abuse to the Beaver County District Attorney’s Office.
THE DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH SENDS CIPOLLA FOR A PSYCH EVALUATION TO CLEAR HIM FOR A RETURN TO MINISTRY DESPITE THE ALLEGATIONS OF AT LEAST THREE VICTIMS
The Diocese of Pittsburgh ordered Fr. Cipolla to undergo a psychological examination at St. Luke Institute, a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests located in Suitland, Maryland. St. Luke’s recommended that Father Anthony J. Cipolla “not have any ministry which involves children.” It was also recommended that Cipolla go to St. John Vianney Hospital, another treatment facility for pedophile priests located in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Fr. Cipolla did not comply with this recommendation and instead went to St. Michael’s Institute in New York City, a treatment center of his choice, which was not church-approved. St. Michael’s staff wrote a report on Cipolla that completely contradicted everything that St. Luke’s staff had said about him. Fr. Cipolla then hired an attorney, who wrote a request to Bishop Wuerl asking that Cipolla be reassigned to another parish.
In 1989, Fr. Cipolla changed his mind and agreed to go to St. John Vianney. Three weeks later, he asked if he could instead serve in another diocese in lieu of treatment at SJV. Bishop Wuerl told him that he would have to tell the bishop of his new diocese about his sexual abuse history. He continued to ask for reassignment, though he still refused to be examined at St. John Vianney. All of his requests to other dioceses were denied. While this was happening, Fr. Cipolla was presenting himself as a priest in good standing. He did not stop doing this even when Wuerl told him this behavior had to cease. In 1992, the third victim filed a civil lawsuit against Fr. Cipolla.
In 2002, Fr. Cipolla was officially dismissed from the priesthood (laicized) by the Pope. Yet he continued to say masses and act like a priest. In 2015, he wrote to Bishop Zubik and asked for his retirement as well as a monthly pension and stipend. In early 2016, he was denied this request as he was no longer a priest. He died in 2016 of a heart attack while driving.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of New York. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest or other Catholic clergy in New York State, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of New York now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in New York and nationwide. We can help.
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