Tag: Ferdinand B. Demsher

florida clergy abuse sexual

Why You Should Care About These Men Who Came to Florida

Bear with us a bit and we’ll tell you who these guys are and why you should know about them.

Hugh Behan left Jefferson City MO, coming to Orlando. So did Martin McCamley who was from Altoona PA. Walter Coleman was in Bridgeport CT but moved to Miami. So did George Zirwas of Pittsburgh PA. Robert J. Brague left Scranton PA for Naples. Richard J. Giuliani left Allentown PA for St. Augustine.

Some moved multiple times. John J. Whiteley of St. Louis MO moved Venice and then Miami. Thomas J. Benestad left Allentown PA and moved to Boca Raton and then Palm Beach.

Timothy Sperber left Harrisburg PA, moving to Plantation, Pembroke Pines, Miami, Venice and Punta Gorda. And Robert E. Spangenberg moved even more – from Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina before ending up in Sarasota.

Similarly, John (Jerry) Kucan was in four Pennsylvania towns (Sharon, Bethlehem, Steelton and Beaver Falls), two Wisconsin towns in Wisconsin and two Illinois towns before finding his way to the Sunshine State.

Not to be outdone, however, is Roger A. Sinclair who also spent time in four Pennsylvania towns (Connellsville, Latrobe, Uniontown and Kittanning) then joined the military and moved to California, Kansas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Oregon and ultimately Florida.

Finally, there are other men who – like Kucan and Sinclair- who moved south to unknown Florida towns: John Phillip Schanz (from Erie PA), Stanley M. Gana (from Philadelphia), Roger J. Trott (from Greensburg PA), and Ferdinand B. Demsher and Bernard J. Kaczmarczyk (both from Pittsburgh).

Who are these guys?

Each one is a proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesting Catholic cleric.

And here’s where this gets interesting:

We learned ALL of this from secular sources (mainstream media accounts and law enforcement reports.)

We learned NONE of this from Catholic officials.

“How can this be?” you might ask. “All US bishops have long promised to be ‘open and transparent’ about abuse. In fact, in 2002, they all signed on to a supposedly-binding national ‘charter’ that mandates this kind of disclosure. And many of them have posted predators’ names and assignments on their websites. How come these transfers and moves can still be kept hidden?”

The answer: making promises and keeping promises are not the same.

“Well, who are these ‘secular sources’ you cite and how reliable are they?” you might ask.

They are all publicly-available reports issued in recent years by law enforcement officials and/or a credible, Massachusetts-based non-profit called BishopAccountability.org, which bases its information on court records and mainstream media accounts. (Please check out their outstanding website. And look for the tab on the left hand side of their home page called “Grand Jury and Other Reports.”)

“Wait,” you might ask “Were these child molesters SENT here by bishops or did they move here on their own?”

Some of both. But here’s OUR question: “Does that matter? Almost two decades ago, bishops said they’d start being more honest and forthcoming about predator priests. Don’t they have a moral and civic duty to warn parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners and the public about potentially dangerous men in their jurisdictions, no matter how they got there?”

And one final question: “Who’s responsible for this continued and reckless secrecy and what can be done about it?”

Those answers will come soon in another blog. So please check back with us soon.


Fr. Ferdinand B. Demsher – Diocese of Pittsburgh

Father Ferdinand B. Demsher

Diocese of Pittsburgh

Ordained: 1946

Death: 1983

Assigned as Follows:

  • 1946 – 1947 – St. Peter, New Kensington, PA
  • 1947-1949 – Christ the King, Ambridge, PA
  • 1949-1951 – St. James, West End, PA
  • 1951-1963 – United States Army
  • 1963-1966 – Resurrection, Brookline, PA
  • 1966-1983 – St. Mary of the Assumption, Pittsburgh, PA

Summary of Allegations Against Father Ferdinand B. Demsher:

A 2002 email included in documents subpoenaed from the Diocese of Pittsburgh details sexual abuse by Father Ferdinand Demsher. The man who wrote the email was 13 to 14 at the time of the abuse, which occurred from 1975 to 1976 at St. Mary of the Assumption.  The victim did “odd jobs” for Demsher, which he seized upon to abuse the boy on multiple occasions. This abuse stopped when the boy entered high school and no longer went to the rectory. The Diocese of Pittsburgh deemed the accusations credible and fulfilled the victim’s request for help with counseling.

In 2012, a woman called the Diocesan Assistance Coordinator to report that she had a male friend who was molested by Demsher in the late 1970s to early 1980s. The Coordinator gave her information that she could forward to her friend and the woman gave the potential victim’s first name. The man does not seem to have contacted the Diocese of Pittsburgh and no additional action was taken on the complaint.

A 2015 memorandum outlined the allegations of still another victim. This victim described being a 14-year-old boy when Demsher would sexually abuse him. When he was a freshman at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Demsher fondled his genitals when he came to pick up his report card. This occurred twice.

Another memorandum from 2016 contained the allegations of another man. This victim was 10 or 11 years old when he was sexually abused by Demsher. He was an altar boy and attended Resurrection grade school at the time.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office was notified of another sexual abuse accusation against Demsher in 2015. The District Attorney’s records show that abuse occurred between 1964 and 1965 at a church in the county.

Another victim was disclosed in a 2016 memorandum. The abuse happened in the mid- to late-1960s, but the victim did not give details about the nature of the abuse. He did mention that Demsher provided alcohol to a group of boys that he took to Wildwood, New Jersey, two times. The Diocese of Pittsburgh gave the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office information about this man’s abuse and gave him financial assistance.

Demsher died in 1983.  At the time of his death, he was a priest in active ministry.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.  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 Pittsburgh 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.