What to Know
- A number of priests with ties to various NY and NJ churches and Catholic organizations were revealed in the grand jury report
- The grand jury report was presented Tuesday by PA AG Josh Shapiro and details allegations of rape, abortions, confessions and cover-ups
- The grand jury report marks the most sweeping look into sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in the United States, according to Shapiro
A number of priests revealed in the shocking grand jury report that implicates hundreds of Catholic clergy members in various Pennsylvania dioceses of sexually abusing thousands of young victims over decades served in New York and New Jersey, court documents show.
A number of priests with ties to various local churches and Catholic organizations were revealed among the more than 1,300 pages of the grand jury report presented Tuesday by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro — a document that includes details of rape, abortions, confessions and cover-ups.
It took the grand jury more than two years to investigate the claims contained in the sometimes explicit report.
According to the grand jury report, one of the priests mentioned, Father Edmond A. Parrakow, was born and raised in New York City and ordained on June 1, 1968 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at the age of 28. Subsequently, he was assigned to St. Martin of Tours, in the Bronx and St. Thomas Aquinas High School. During these assignments complaints related to the sexual abuse of children were made against Parrakow.
While records within the Diocese of Greensburg regarding Parrakow's alleged misconduct in the Archdiocese of New York were limited, the report says, that Parrakow's Greensburg diocesan file indicated a complaint against him was made at the beginning of 1985 by a man alleging he was sexually abused by him fifteen years prior when he was a teenage boy.
The abuse allegation appears to have prompted the Archdiocese of New York to arrange for Parrakow to receive counseling, followed by in-patient treatment at the Foundation House in New Mexico in July 1985 — a facility that provided evaluations and treatment for priests accused of sexual abuse and other improper acts, the report says.
During his time in treatment, Parrakow allegedly admitted to having sexually abused 35 boys, according to the grand jury report. The New York City Diocese was warned by the Foundation House to not assign Parrakow to a parish that had a school. The diocese subsequently transferred him to the Diocese of Greenberg where he aided different parishes and had contact with schools, the grand jury report says.
In 1989, a complaint was made against him for alleged inappropriate contact with a seventh grader at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Mount Pleasant, the report says, adding Parrakow was overprotective of the child and on occasion allegedly verbally abused the child’s parents.
Parrakow resided in the Greensburg Diocese but did not engage in any priestly activities between 1989 and 2003, the report says, adding that it was in 2004 that Parrakow consented to laicization and was defrocked.
Parrakow appeared before the grand jury following after being subpoenaed. The report states that during his testimony, Parrakow admitted he had molested children as a priest, many of whom were altar boys, but did not know a specific number. Parrakow stated, according to the court documents "... I don't -well, I didn't keep contact - contact with them, and I didn't count them. So whatever the Diocese is saying is probably correct."
Parrakow could not immediately be located for comment.
In another case highlighted by the report, Father Augustine Giella, who was ordained in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, on June 3, 1950, and served in New Jersey for 29 years in various parishes, suddenly requested ministry elsewhere.
The report says that Giella was assigned to St. John Envangelist Church in Enhaut, Pennsylvania, in 1982. It was there, according the grand jury report, that Giella allegedly abused five out of eight sisters in a family and other family members.
The sisters who were victims of the alleged abused testified before the grand jury in 2016.
The report says that the abuse may have been stopped if the Diocese of Harrisburg acted on a complaint it received in 1987, when a teacher at Bishop McDevitt High School received a complaint by a girl who said Giella allegedly insisted on watching her use the bathroom and doing “wrong things” with children. This former teacher testified before the grand jury on Jan. 24, 2017.
The report notes that Giella voluntarily retired in 1988, but apparently continued to sexually abuse girls.
According to the police report, after Giella was charged and arrested for child pornography and sexual abuse in 1992, numerous calls were received from women reporting that Giella fondled and abused them in Hackensack, New Jersey. He died awaiting trial.
The damning report also mentions Rev. J. Pascak Sabas, who was ordained in Wappinger Falls, New York, and served as vocation director in New York from 1955 to 1957 and House Discretus and Purser from 1957 to 1958.
According to the report, Sabas allegedly sexually abused a 14-year-old boy at his home, school and after Mass, beginning in 1964 when Sabas was serving his ministry in Pennsylvania at that time.
Sabas also allegedly threatened him by saying, "Don't tell your parents. They would be very hurt if they knew what you were doing."
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According to the report, the abuse ended when Sabas was transferred out of the victim's parish. The alleged victim reported the abuse in 1974.
The alleged victim, who is now a renowned sculptor and artist in New York, according to the grand jury report, entered counseling and in 1989 filed a civil lawsuit against the Diocese and Sabas, which was settled out of court in 1991 for $40,000.
Sabas passed away in 1996.
Another case profiled in the grand jury involved a priest who was assigned to ministry in New Jersey from 1993 to 1995 and was subsequently incardinated into the Dioceses of Metuchen in New Jersey.
According to the grand jury report, the Diocese of Allentown in Pennsylvania became aware of Father A. Gregory Uhrig’s sexual abuse of children on May 5, 2010 when a 44-year-old female victim made a complaint of sexual abuse at the hands of Uhrig when she was 13 years old and a student at St. Anthony School in Easton.
The girl told her mother and another priest of the alleged abuse her sophomore year of high school, according to the grand jury report.
In 1995, Uhrig left the Diocese of Allentown and was incardinated to the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey. Following a report to the New Jersey diocese, he was placed on leave. The report says that, the Diocese of Metuchen appears to reported the complaint to local law enforcement, but Uhrig was not prosecuted due to the statute of limitations.
Uhrig is currently serving as a pastoral assistant at Our Lady of Lourdes in Readington, New Jersey. NBC 4 New York sent a request for comment and Uhrig’s contact information to the parish. They did not immediately responded to our request.
Father Donald C. Bolton, who served in various parishes in New York from 1952 to 1954, 1970 to 1974 and 1984 to 1987 was also mentioned in the grand jury report.
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In 1986, the parents of a 7-year-old girl came forward to Erie County prosecutors in Pennsylvania with a complaint that Bolton allegedly molested their daughter after discovering that he was working with children in New York after bring promised by church officials that “he would never again be in a position to harm children,” the report says. Because of this complaint, Bolton was charged with indecent assault and corruption of minors and plead guilty in 1987, according to the report. He was sentenced to three years probation.
Citing records, the report says that from that arrest it came to light that other girls were allegedly molested, including in New York, but the statute of limitations had already expired. The report also mentions a young boy who was allegedly victimized by Bolton.
One of Bolton's victims would later file a lawsuit and receive a $100,000 settlement, the grand jury report says, adding that Diocese of Erie returned Bolton to his religious order after the complaints and served in ministry until his death in 2006.
In another case documented in the report, a priest who served in the Diocese of Erie, spent some time in New York City after he faced sexual abuse accusations.
According to the grand jury, “little was found on Rev. Leon T. Muroski' s whereabouts or duties within the Diocese in 1995-1996, but in 1997, it was found that Muroski was serving in ministry for The Christophers in New York City. Once again, little is documented about his duties with The Christophers and it is unknown if The Christophers were notified of his past sexual involvement with young people in Erie.”
Additionally, the report cites, that in 2001, Muroski returned to the Diocese of Erie from The Christophers, retired and was permitted to move into the retired priest home in 2002.
The grand jury report says that in 2016, the Diocese of Erie issued a list of the retired clergy living in the priest home and made it public. Although, Muroski was not listed as a resident, the grand jury says it found him living there in 2017.
NBC 4 New York reached out the Diocese of Erie requesting comment and contact information for Muroski.
A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Erie said: "The Grand Jury report indicates that they wanted to offer a broad picture of what was happening in dioceses across the country over a period of 70 years. We know it was an enormous task, and they were not able to provide the complete picture with many of the cases listed. The Diocese of Erie is not able to comment on individual cases at this time."
Additonally, they did not provide us with contact information for Muroski, but did say they contacted him and he "also has no comment at this time."
Citing diocesan documents, the grand jury report says James Rush served in the Archdiocese of New York as a deacon prior to 2001 and it was this diocese that had authority over him when he applied for employment in the Diocese of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania.
In 2015, according to the report, two adult woman complained that Rush engaged in inappropriate actions that crossed boundary lines. After being confronted by the Diocese of Harrisburg, Rush retired, but still assisted in a parish.
He died in 2016, according to court documents.
In 2016, a woman reported to Children and Youth Services and to the Diocese of Harrisburg that Rush “developed an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old girl,” the report claims.
Citing documents, the grand jury says the Diocese of Harrisburg disclosed the complaints, the penal precept and the new allegations against Rush, but it determined that no sexual abuse occurred in the case of the most recent allegation, but instead said what happened “might deem grooming behavior.”
In another case, records obtained by subpoena from the Diocese of Pittsburgh show that in 1984 a priest that ministered in New Jersey was arrested in his home in the Diocese of Camden for sexually molesting a child, the report says.
According to the grand jury report, at the time of Rev. John P. Connor’s arrest, he was a theology teacher and coach at Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken, Pennsylvania.
Citing 2005 documents, the report says Connor never went to trial on the charges because lawyers for the Diocese of Camden negotiated a pretrial intervention with the Cape May Prosecutor's Office. The terms of the agreement were that if Connor would admit to sexually molesting the child, he would have the arrest erased from his record as long as he was not re-arrested within one year.
He was subsequently moved from the Diocese of Camden to Pennsylvania where he was allegedly given unrestricted ministry and a warning to parishioners that Conner was an admitted child molester was not issued, the report says, adding that while on assignment in Conshohocken he allegedly also abused a young boy identified as “Timothy.”
The subpoenaed diocesan files contain little to no information on the victim's status or whether he was offered counseling, the report says.
Additionally, the grand jury investigation found little to no documentation that the Dioceses of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia or Camden notified local law enforcement or the District Attorney's office about Connor's sexual abuse.
Connor is out of active ministry and living in a retirement facility for priests, according to the report. NBC 4 New York could not locate contact information for Connor.
The grand jury report further mentions that in November 2012, the Diocese of Pittsburg allegedly received an email from an adult male about Rev. James Hopkins, claiming Hopkins performed a “medical exam” on him when he was a freshman at St. Fidelis Seminary High School decades earlier.
The alleged exam, according to the grand jury report, involved the young man bending over naked in front of Hopkins while listening to Hopkins make “creepy” comments about his behind.
Citing records, the report says that the diocese did not appear to have conducted an investigation or attempted to contact the alleged victim about counseling.
Citing a letter by the Diocese of Pittsburgh, it was revealed that Hopkins was transferred to the Diocese of Camden in 1973, according to the report.
The court documents also reveal that in 1995, Hopkins pled guilty to sexually molesting an altar boy in Camden County and received a 10-year prison sentence and was ordered to register as a sex offender.
Rev. Albert McMahon, who served for some time in the Province of Immaculate Conception in New York, was also named in the grand jury report.
On April 22, 2004, the Diocese of Pittsburgh received a telephone call from a 54 -year-old woman reporting that she was sexually abused by McMahon, when she was approximately 11 years old, the report says.
Additionally, the court documents shows that on Jan. 10, 2014, a 63-year-old man contacted the diocese to report that in the mid -1960's, when he was approximately 11 to 14 years old, he served as an altar boy at St. Pamphilus in Pennsylvania and McMahon would allegedly invite alter boys to his friary to “wrestle.” The man was offered counseling and advised that the allegation would be forwarded to district prosecutors, the report says.
The report also reveals that a letter was distributed on Jan. 31, 2014 to parishioners of St. Pamphilus explaining the allegations against McMahon and urging any parishioner harmed by him to come forward, which lead to a 64-year-old man coming forward Feb. 5, 2014 to report that McMahon had inappropriately touched him when he was about 12 and 13 years old.
That man met with diocesan officials on Feb. 17, 2014 to recount his ordeal, the grand jury report says. At the conclusion of the meeting, officials offered counseling and said that his allegations had been forwarded to prosecutors and the Provincial for the Franciscan community, the report says.
The Diocese ultimately provided up to 90 counseling sessions for the male over a three year period, the report says, adding that no information could be located within the files as to whether if or when McMahon was confronted with any or all of the allegations.
Contact information for McMahon was not immediately available.
The grand jury report also says that the current Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York, John Barres, is linked to priests who were accused of sexual abuse, although Barres is not accused of molesting children.
Barres has been serving as bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre since Jan. 31, 2017. He previously served as Bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania.
According to the report, Barres is accused of allegedly covering up certain accusations. In an instance involving Father Michael Lawrence, who was accused of sexual abuse, Barres wrote a letter to the Vatican in 2014 to not seek the removal of Lawrence from priesthood, instead recommending retired status.
Lawrence has since passed away.
NBC 4 New York reached out to the Diocese of Rockville Center and Bishop Barres. In serperate emails, both the diocese and Barres issued the same statement, which says in part: "The sexual abuse of any human being—and particularly the sexual abuse of children—is a terrible sin and a crime. It should not happen anywhere, and it most particularly should not happen in the Catholic Church."
The statement goes on to read: "Bishop Barres has spent many years talking to and counselling the survivors of abuse (including the survivors of abuse elsewhere in society who should not be forgotten) and is aware of how devastating it can be to survivors and their families."
Additionally, the statement says that the grand jury report contains incorrect material, citing that Barres and the Diocese of Allentown informed the Holy See of all relevant facts about Lawrence, contrary to the report and plans on contacting the attorney general's office to correct its report.
The statement further states that Lawrence was removed from the ministry, but not from the clerical state "to ensure he stay in a secured facility far from children."
NBC 4 also reached out to various dioceses in New Jersey and New York. However, only the Archdiocese of Newark responded to our request for comment and provided a statement from the Roman Catholic Bishops of New Jersey, which encompasses the archdioceses of Newark, Trenton, Paterson, Camden and Metuchen.
“New Jersey’s Roman Catholic Bishops acknowledge that media accounts of the details contained in Pennsylvania’s grand jury report show a heartbreaking departure from our fundamental belief in the dignity and value of every child,” the statement reads in part. “We cannot undo the actions of the past, but we shall remain vigilant to ensure that not one child will ever be abused on our watch.”
In their statement, the bishops also urge anyone who was abused by clergy to come forward to civil authorities.
The grand jury heard allegations against more than 300 clergy members, according to the report. Most of the victims were boys. Some were teens, while others were prepubescent. Several alleged victims were lured with alcohol or pornography. Afterward, they turned to substance abuse and even suicide to escape the lingering trauma.
All told, more than 1,000 victims were identified from the church's own records, but there could be thousands more, the grand jurors concluded.
The grand jury report marks the most sweeping look into sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in the United States, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
"Shockingly, church leadership kept records of the abuse and the cover-up. These documents, from the dioceses' own 'Secret Archives,' formed the backbone of this investigation," Shapiro said.
The alleged predator priests will most likely not see their day in court since the state of limitations have expired in these cases.
In Pennsylvania, criminal charges can only be brought under the statute of limitations in effect at the time of the crime.
For those alleging abuse in the 1970s, that means two years from when it happened. For others, it means two years after they turned 18. Current Pennsylvania state law allows prosecutors to file criminal charges before the one-time child victim turns 50 and for victims to seek civil damages in court before they turn 30.