Breaking News: H.S. Coach Arrested and Archdiocese Continues to Mishandle Abuse

Even today, the Archdiocese continues to advise victims to contact their office instead of the District Attorney’s office. They seem to still be trying to cover up. The civil authorities should have the first opportunity to deal with sex abuse cases. This Diocese has proven over and over that it is incapable of dealing with this issue effectively.  See last paragraph of the ABC news story below. They STILL DON’T GET IT. All Catholic mothers with children in archdiocesan schools need to speak up now. If you have information related to this case or are a victim in Montgomery County, please contact your District Attorney. Click here for contact information.

Story below from Action News, WPVI, April 18, 2011

Archbishop Carroll coach charged with soliciting teen

Updated at 11:49 AM today
Francis Murphy
Pictured: Francis Murphy
  Action News

NORRISTOWN, Pa. – April 18, 2011 (WPVI) — The coach and athletic director at Archbishop Carroll High School is under arrest, accused of soliciting a teen boy online.

Francis Murphy, 39, of Bryn Mawr, has been charged by the Montgomery County D.A.’s office with Unlawful Contact or Communication with a Minor, Promoting Prostitution, Corruption of Minors, Attempted Corruption of Minors, and related offenses.

According to District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, a male juvenile – an 11th grader – made a complaint earlier this month that Murphy was sending him sexually suggestive messages on Facebook. The teen said Murphy recruited him at a football camp when he was in 9th grade to attend Archbishop Carroll in Radnor, Pa.

The victim’s family, however, could not afford the tuition and he ended leaving the school to attend Upper Merion High. That’s when the alleged sexual conversations began.

The D.A. said that the juvenile recently sent Murphy a message on Facebook asking him if he could help him with getting his cleats out of his locker. Murphy said he would and then, authorities say, Murphy quickly turned the subject into a sexual talk.

The conversations allegedly included Murphy offering to provide gifts to the juvenile in exchange for sexual favors. Murphy told the juvenile many times that this would have to be kept between the two of them, the D.A. said.

“The coach suggested he could be this boy’s ‘sugar daddy,'” Ferman said.

The juvenile eventually told his mother, and she contacted the police.

Authorities then set up a sting on Facebook and arranged a meeting on Friday morning at an ice cream shop in Bridgeport, Montgomery County, where Murphy was arrested.

His bail as been set at $250,000 cash.

A news release from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia says Murphy has been athletic director at Archbishop Carroll since 1999 and also has served as the boys’ baseball coach and offensive coordinator of the football team.

He previously served as the boys’ baseball coach and assistant football coach at Kennedy-Kenrick High School from 1996 to 1998.

The archdiocese said that all of the required criminal background checks and child abuse clearances were in place.

Murphy is now on administrative leave, which means he is relieved of all duties related to his employment within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

School administrators sent a letter via e-mail to school families today informing them of the arrest. “The letter conveyed to parents how troubling this news is for the members of our school community,” Mary E. Rochford, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in the statement.

The Office of Catholic Education of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said it recognizes that this may be painful to those who have been abused. If anyone needs assistance please contact the Victim Assistance Office for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 1-888-800-8780 or

23 thoughts on “Breaking News: H.S. Coach Arrested and Archdiocese Continues to Mishandle Abuse

  1. There is really not much more to say about these abuse situations in the Catholic community. Until All PARENTS AND GUARDIANS realize that they must deal with the POLICE when there is even a hint of abuse of children in vulnerable situations, organizations like the Catholic Church will continue to abuse children. Prosecution and sentencing is what is needed to make abusers realize that children are protected by their parents and the civil community if not the Catholic community. Betty Anne

  2. At what point do you stop trying to teach the Archdiocese the basics of right and wrong, and at what point do you take your kids out of their schools, rather than leave them to teach your kids the basics of right and wrong?

    At some point, this becomes an intelligence test. They aren’t going to change. They don’t care. Your kids aren’t safe with them.

  3. I’ve been trying to think of these cases in terms of the public school system… what would the general procedures be if this kind of case were to happen in a public school setting.

    I went to the PA Dept. of Education to check their procedural outline for reporting teacher misconduct. A link is here:

    The last of the questions in the FAQ section asks this:

    “Do districts have a responsibility to report educator misconduct?

    The answer:

    “The chief administrative officer of a school entity must report any educator who has been dismissed for cause, indicted or convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or a crime listed in section 111(e) of the Public School Code, and when there is reason to believe that the educator has been involved in sexual abuse or exploitation or physical abuse of a child or student.”

    Note: The answer states “when there is reason to believe the educator has been involved in…”, not “when the educator has been convicted of…”

    It is interesting to read the procedures, definitions, and protocols involved in the state public education system, and compare/contrast that with what is in place in the diocesan system. One difference that is glaringly obvious is that in the public school setting, in all likelihood the teacher would be represented by his/her union lawyers, who are not paid for by the Department of Education. Contrast this with the Archdiocese, who receives the complaint, investigates, and also represents the priest who has been accused of misconduct.

  4. As a man sexually abused when I was a boy, I applaud the young man in question for alerting his parent of the situation he was placed in.

    And as a parent, I urge all parents to adhere to the law when dealing with abuse allegations. It is not the Church’s job to investigate the allegations. We know too well from past experience that the Church is not concerned with the welfare of its members when allegations of this sort are brought.

    Do what is right for your child. Call the Police. Let them do their job and investigate.

  5. i wish facebook had another option other than to click the “like” button. i want the post to be there but i dont particularly like the article being a priest abused survivor!

  6. i only wish to comment that you are seeming to “pounce” on the archdiocese no matter what. the last paragragh that you call attention too as proof that they “don’t get it” is proof that YOU “don’t get it”. it says that if there assistance needed as they they refer to the victim assistance program of councelling, etc. whenever there is any upsetting incident in ANY school, public or private, there is assistance offered. the policy of reporting to law enforcement has been in place for some time. i think you are jumping the gun here.

    1. What you don’t get is that the victims assistance program was misused in the past to protect Church interests. This is outlined in the most recent Grand Jury report (a link is available on the Resources page). Victim information was passed on to the Archdiocese’s law firm – Stradley Ronan. I’m sure victims were under the presumption that their “therapy” was confidential. Instead it was used against them. Please inform yourself. I will pounce when it comes to child safety and victim justice. The archdiocese had from 2005 to this past grand jury report to restore our trust. I was hopeful. That’s been shattered by the facts.

  7. sorry, i need to further clarify-i think a lot gets lost and very often confused on a blog. people who comment have their own opinions. no one on here including myself is an expert on diocesan policy in any area. i am sure that they refer to ANYONE who may be upset by this, not someone who may have been contacted by or abused/shared on facebook, this person. any victim must already know to go to the authorities or they are not aware of basic common sense.

    1. I can understand why that would be the natural presumption. However, the diocese hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to handling this correctly. The victims assistance program should be run independently to avoid conflict of legal interests. Please see my comment below. I do appreciate your comment and reading the site. It’s important and valuable to have a variety of perspectives.

  8. If the Archdiocese wants to offer counseling,no problem. What they did not include in their correspondence is the information for local law enforcement to be contacted. Usually in these type of situations you would see the name and number listed of the proper authorities to contact. For example if a Boy Scout leader is arrested, their correspondence isn’t telling you to contact the Boy Scout headquarters for counseling, they are telling you to contact the police if you have any information to share.

  9. i wish to inform you with all due respect that i have read both reports- i would not comment on here without having done so. furthermore, i am VERY familiar with ALL aspects of this troubling situation. i am also familiar with the varied opinions that are shared on this site. i have been on here at least 100 times and have never commented as am hopeful that your motives are sincere. i just think that you are not paying attention to reason at times.

    1. I’m sorry I assumed you hadn’t read the report. So you read the Grand Jury’s recommendation on referring victims to the already existing PA Victims Compensation Assistance Program or funding an independent non-profit that would administer to the assistance of the victims. They made this recommendation based on the obvious conflict of interest. Knowing this, what in my post is unreasonable?

  10. 1st-did you and ms. kane READ the letter sent to parents from the principal? there is ample mention of ways to follow the right path of reporting. the principal is trusting that the parents have ample common sense, as well. i really think that the situation is being handled in the right way at carroll and your help is not needed. i will admit i am wrong when you here from a lot of parents at carroll.
    2nd-reread all the things you said at the beginning and tell me you think you are being completely reasonable in this case. this is going to get to be a tired, boring blog if you keep saying the same thing over and over again when things have changed. you have to be careful how you read into things with your own agenda.

    3rd. to ms. kane-are you kidding me with the boy scouts??? just last spring, the case of timur dykes..are you familiar at all. please don’t hold the boy scouts up as a model for the archdioccese of philadelphia.

    1. I did read the letter. I find absolutely no fault with it. I’m taking issue with the information in the press release (posted on the archdiocesan Web site and given to all the news outlets). This teacher was at HS previous to Carroll and those parents won’t have the benefit of the letter. Their children are older now, but may have been abused.

      What exactly has changed?

      Pedophilia happens everywhere. The example Kathy Kane used wasn’t to say the Boy Scouts handled it better but to say the press would be less deferential. The proper authorities should be contacted in every case – regardless of institution.

    2. I AM A CARROLL PARENT, and the response from the school so far has been minimal at best.

      The kids were aware that something had occurred as early as Friday night through their chatter on facebook.

      The helicopters, news vans, and other distractions on campus Monday were met by silence by the school administration, the kids were told nothing.

      The parents were told via email one hour before the DA’s office made their announcement. Many parents were not aware, and learned about this tragedy on the news.

      The school had the option to use a telecom system linked to their phones to broadcast voicemails to all Carroll households, but did not use it in this sitution.

      I am sure that they were taking their direction from the Archdiocese and their lawyers. The Pricipal’s comments on the news were limited to two sentences regarding his “concern for the kids and the administration’s shock about the situation”. That was it.

      The letter sent to parents must have been crafted by the archdiocese communication office(an oxymoron at best) and the lawyers on the parkway. It offered little explanation or interim steps to address the issue within the CARROLL community.

      There has been no offer of a parents meeting, or any further communication with the students or parents to open up a dialogue about how everyone feels about the sitution.

      Quite honestly, I know this is not the style of Carroll’s President, Father Casey, who I think has been told to not comment by his bosses on the parkway.

      It is dark times indeed for the layity in Philadelphia when legal concerns out rule the need for honest, open communication.

      1. Update on My Previous Reply,

        I received an update from the Archbishop Carroll administration via email. I thank God that the administration is making a “good faith” effort to try and keep the families informed and are willing to discuss the issues and their potential effects on our kids with us.

        I had said in my previous post that I didn’t think the current efforts were reflective of Father Casey and his leadership team. I’m glad my observations proved true.

        Maybe the Archdiocese can learn a lesson from Archbishop Carroll.

  11. I’d like to offer some perspective as a Carroll parent with a son on the baseball team. As angry and vocal as I have been about everything that has gone on in the Archdiocese, I have not looked at this situation as another black spot on the Archdiocese. In fact, I’ve been pretty impressed with the way it’s been handled by the school so far. The email we received today was straightforward and clearly stated that this was a criminal situation. While the link to the Archdiocese was there, the first link went to an FBI website on sexual predators and internet safety. Since it was at the end, I never scrolled down far enough to see the link to the Archdiocese website.

    The Archdiocese was not involved in the sting that led to the coach’s arrest or in any cover up. It was handled by the proper authorities as a criminal situation, and it hasn’t been presented in any other way. The players have spoken openly with school administrators as I imagine they would at a public school.

    This site has helped give voice to many of my feelings about the grand jury investigation, the shuffling of criminal priests and the treatement of victims. I am in no way excusing the Archdiocese for any actions of the past, but as someone who is close to this situation, I want people to know that I think Carroll has made a genuine effort to be transparent.

    I give huge kudos to the brave student and his mother for exposing their story and going through the right channels. As a former student with no current ties to the school, the individual could have blocked his facebook account, written the coach off as a “creeper” and moved on. Who knows how many young men they may have spared similar humiliation and potential abuse. I’m sure there is much more of a story behind this, and we will follow the criminal investigation to learn more. Perhaps this family’s choice to take the criminal route will inspire people on both sides to understand that the best place, the only place to deal with sexual predators is through the criminal system.

    On a lighter note, the baseball team had a miraculous win today. Down 5 runs, bottom of the 7th with one out, they scored six to win — one hitter, one base, one run at a time. Best game they’ve played all season, and boy did they need it.

    1. Mary Beth, There’s no doubt that the brave student and his mother saved future victims. I’m not surprised that the school handled it well. It’s the diocese that tends to muddle things. The press release on the Archdiocesan Web site sounds a lot different than the letter from the school. It should have also included the FBI info. This man was at another Catholic HS prior to Carroll and those parents deserve the same info through the press. And big congrats to the team! I’m sure the school needed that win, too.

  12. “Bonilla began to groom the teen for a sexual relationship, the suit says, knowing that she suffered from mental health issues, was previously sexually abused by an adult man, and was susceptible to being manipulated”

    PA Victims Compensation Assistance Program – does this work for crimes that occured decades ago? Most define a 72 hour period unless good cause. Not sure what “good cause” would be legally.

    Also, maybe with some responsible reporting the news organizations can mention that option – contact your local DA. They certainly gave a contact for the Cathoilic Church. Also, “sugar daddy”, your kid is getting expensive gifts or extra attention – beware.

    Saw a movie called “Doubt” thought it showed the difficulty in the 60’s and 70’s with the abuse problem – also addressed how nuns were treated once they became disabled. See if you can find a SSJ to discuss how they were treated by the bishops and Krol.I remember one nun, while i was waiting for annoucements, pleaded the girls to be careful around the sinks you don’t want men in here. you know men.if you break a sink will will need to bring men in here. She is right, too many are ready to take advantage of young women and men.

    Also, why do abuse person have drug problems? priest’s confidentiality.

    the second story was unbelievable – more to it that that small article.Maybe we should contact the sponsors of the first’s radio program.Not happy with them advertising on that show.

  13. Susan:

    Fair enough on the Archdiocese. I guess the singular advantage to being close to this one is that I am getting more complete information, sooner and I am witness to what seems to be pretty open communications. Everything else (the sordid details)I’m learning from the news. In truth, it wouldn’t occur to me to go to the Archdiocese for that, so I haven’t been to the Archdiocese website.

  14. Mary Beth
    Thanks for your comments.I agree about the young man and his mother,how easy it would have been to simply walk away from the situation. I have so much respect for the way they reported this to authorities and went the extra step.
    I also know many people who are proud Archbishop Carroll alumni.They should be proud of their school as it has always been, and will continue to be a fine academic institution. The sports program also has a great reputation.I know when I was a member of my high school tennis team we dreaded our yearly match with the Carroll girls as we were never able to pull off a victory.
    The most important thing to happen when a coach,teacher,volunteer,clergy has been found to commit crimes against children is that people in the past who may have had similar experiences, contact police. I am sure that the school is doing a great job in responding to the crisis,such a shame that the faculty and kids have to be dealing with this. The Archdiocese should always list the proper legal authoriites to contact when issuing press releases,letters to parents etc… In this case the name and number of the Montgomery County D.A. Yes,you would think this is common sense on behalf of a parent to contact police.Let’s see the Archdiocese start making it protocol to include such information.
    On the main page of the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the Archdiocese the following statement is given:

    If you or someone you know have experienced an incident of sexual abuse
    by clergy, employee or volunteer of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia,
    please contact the office of the Victim AssistanceCoordinators at:
    1-888-800-8780 –

    People ahould ALWAYS contact police just like this young man and Mother ,that is where the best results are possible.Let’s try to encourage others to do the same thing. Children are best protected when the crimes are handled by proper authorities.

  15. I tried the “search ” function but was unable to locate the thread where the movie “Doubt” was discussed,so I am posting here: This is a quote from Wiki-Answers concerning the ending of the movie “Doubt.”



    I’ve read several opinions on what the ending of Doubt truly means. Many think that Sister A. was doubting if Father Flynn actually did anything wrong at all. Others think that Father Flynn was just a homosexual and that’s why he related so well to Donald whom also had homosexual tendencies, not that he was molesting him. I’m sure there are many other explanations that others have thought of but I think most of them are wrong. Doubt is a movie you really have to read into. You have to take into account every detail of the movie. I don’t think most people have done this.

    Here is my interpretation of the ending. Sister A. was doubting the Catholic religion entirely. When Father Flynn resigned he was moved to another church and actually given a sort of promotion in the church. This greatly upset her because Father Flynn was an evil man and was moving up in the hierarchy of the religion she had devoted her life to. She had absolutely no doubt that he had molested Donald and many other children. I’ve gathered this through many scenes in the movie. For example, there is a part where they show how the priests spend their evenings and how the nuns spend theirs. The priests are eating and drinking like buddies in a bar. The nuns are sitting there very quietly and politely. You may say the nuns were like that because of sister A. This may be but I also think it was giving us a glimpse of how the priests in the Catholic religion are with each other. They’re buddies, they protect each other. They protect each other for the wrong things they do. The other scene that supports this same theory is when Sister A. told Father Flynn she contacted his previous Church. When he discovered that she had contacted a nun and not a priest he became furious. Why? I think its because in the Catholic religion these priests have an understanding to protect each other in instances like these. He also screamed at sister A. that she had taken a vow of obedience, she was supposed to obey, essentially, the men in the Catholic religion. Sexist much? But that’s a whole entire other issue. The point I am trying to make is that Father Flynn became nervous when he had thought Sister A. contacted a nun, instead of a priest, who would have protected him. I don’t think he was afraid of his reputation being ruined because the only person who truly thought he molested Donald was Sister A. I think he left because he knew she would stop at nothing to end what he was doing. It makes perfect sense that the movie was about the downfall of the morality in the Catholic Church because of all of the molestation cases that have occurred in the church lately. The Catholic priests are protected even today, not just by other priests but by society now also. If there is someone who steps up and says the priest abused him then the priest is either simply moved to another church to repeat the same things or he is sent to a “treatment” center that is paid for with our own tax money. They don’t go to jail like normal molesters. They are, to this day, protected, just like Father Flynn was.

    Read more:

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