WRITTEN BY KATHY KANE
Those who have followed Catholics4Change over the past few years are aware of my efforts concerning child safety and the St John Vianney Treatment Center located in Downingtown, Pa. In December 2012, I sat in my car in the Bishop Shanahan parking lot while school was in session, waiting for my then 13-year-old daughter to exit the building. I noticed a man come from the side of the school building, walk near the front doors of the school and then make his way past my car. His presence alarmed me and I followed him and watched him cross the street and return to Vianney. A patient from the treatment center found on the property of a school.
Some of the most notorious abusers from the Philadelphia Archdiocese and throughout the U.S., have cycled through this treatment center. A quick Google search in 2012 and I found that a priest who was awaiting a criminal trial for 338 counts of child porn possession had recently stayed at the facility. I had phone conversations and meetings with staff from the facility and was assured that Vianney no longer accepted patients as they did in the past who were danger to children. I was told that the facility treats addiction, mental health, dual diagnosis, porn addictions as well as other programs such as weight loss…but long gone were the days of child predators staying at the facility. To me, a patient charged with child porn is a predator, but in this case it was referencing patients who had assaulted children.
Fast forward to this past week when the Pa Attorney General’s Office released the Grand Jury report of the clergy abuse in the Altoona/Johnstown Diocese. The document identifies St John Vianney as one of the treatment facilities that abusive priests were sent to through the years, no surprise there. What was a shock though was seeing a priest listed as having stayed at Vianney in September/October 2012 who has harmed children? Father George Koharchick is described in the report by the FBI as a preferential child sex offendor who was able to use trust and authority of the priesthood to secretly engage in molestation, digital penetration, and anal sex with children. Maybe there was some confusion in the questions I asked the staff because this certainly does not match up with what I was told back in 2012. Who knows maybe Koharchick was at Vianney to try out their new weight loss program and the Altoona Diocese forgot to disclose the child rape problem? Maybe I was lied to?
Molesting, digitally penetrating and anally raping children and he stayed across the street from a school and right in the middle of a busy suburban shopping district in September/October 2012. Was he allowed the off campus privileges that so many Vianney patients are allowed? The only treatment center I have ever heard of that releases their patients out into the neighboring community…only now through the back door. That is what news reports, newspaper articles and countless emails for the protection of children gets for results…a simple change of the doors that the patients exit the building from to go out into the community.
People who need help deserve treatment and children deserve safety…so far the kids have been on the losing end of that equation. Follow along with us as we try to change that.
– by Kathy Kane