Tag: Robert E. Spangenberg

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. Robert E. Spangenberg – Diocese of Pittsburgh

Father Robert Spangenberg

Diocese of Pittsburgh

Robert Spangenberg Diocese of Pittsburgh Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1974

Retired: 2003

Died: 2006

Assigned as follows:

  • 1974: Faculty, Holy Ghost Preparatory School, (Bensalem, PA)
  • N/A: Associate Pastor, St. Mary (Detroit, MI)
  • N/A – 1977: Associate Pastor, St. Anthony (Millvale, PA)
  • 1977 – 1979: Unknown ministry, North Carolina
  • 1979 – 1980: Assistant Pastor, St. Mary (Sharpsburg, PA)
  • 1980 – N/A: Chaplain, St. Francis de Sale High School (Chicago, IL)
  • 1982 – 1984: Pastor, St. Stanislaus (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 1984 – 1989: Pastor, St. Anthony (Millvale, PA)
  • 1989 – 1990: Superior of the Congregation Retirement home (Sarasota, FL)
  • 1990 – 1993: Pastor, St. Patrick (Charleston, SC)
  • 1993 – N/A: Administrator, St. Peter Claver (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1994 – N/A: Pastor, St. James (Hamlet, NC)
  • 1997 – N/A: Pastor, Epiphany (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 2002: Director of Retirement community (Sarasota, FL)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Robert Spangenberg:

Father Robert Spangenberg was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit Province of the United States, (aka the Spiritans) in 1974, who served in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. According to media reports, Diocesan documents revealed that Father Spangenberg was sexually abused at least two children. Since Spangenberg’s holy obligation was to the Spiritans, the Diocese had very few documents on his ministry.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh was first notified that there was a problem with Spangenberg’s ministry in 1988. At that time, a woman wrote to the Diocese of Pittsburgh and to the Vatican in order to obtain help for her son. She named Spangenberg as her son’s abuser and stated that another priest from Spangenberg’s order was helping them with counseling. She wrote that she was upset that her letter was simply “noted” and that she has not heard from anyone regarding the matter since.

The priest that was giving counseling to the boy’s family was from Spangenberg’s holy order. In Spangenberg’s file, there was a letter from January 1989, reporting that they had investigated the issue and were enclosing a report of their findings.No report on the Spiritans findings was included in Spangenberg’ s file to the Grand Jury.

In 2009, an adult male reported that when he was 15 to 16 years of age, he and Spangenberg engaged in many types of sexual encounters. The boy reported that he was involved in street prostitution with young boys known as “Hustlers.” Spangenberg befriended him during this period and Spangenberg actually promoted the activity by engaging the boy in sexual activities after he ran away from home.

Spangenberg also paid the boy a finder’s fee for him to locate younger hustlers (known as “Chickens”) to have sex with Spangenberg. The boy reported that Spangenberg enjoyed using “huff’ (sniffing glue) while Spangenberg performed oral sex on him. Additionally, Spangenberg would pay for his sexual services with money from the collection box and would even pay the boy in drugs and alcohol.

In a note in the Diocesan files, it was documented that the boy thought Spangenberg was a “really sick guy – he would have person urinate and defecate on him.”

The Diocese and the Spiritans continue to share financial responsibility for the cost of
the male’s therapy, medication, job searches, criminal court costs and assistance with child support.

Spangenberg died in 2006 and is buried in Saint Stanislaus Cemetery in Etna, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

He was first named publicly as accused in a priest profile in the 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.

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

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