Has Archdiocese Put Community at Serious Risk – Again?


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

47 thoughts on “Has Archdiocese Put Community at Serious Risk – Again?

  1. And why does the Church have their own treatment facility again? The idea of it even existing is ludicrous for starters.

  2. A far cry from: “Wherever a few are gathered together in My name, there I am also.” Power and pomp and lots of money are not what Christ was about. He upended the tables of the money lenders ………………..

  3. How bizarre is it that Bishop Shanahan was built directly across from this place? Pulling out of the school’s parking lot, you could see them walking around the grounds, and they could see us too.

    1. Yes! Especially when stuck in traffic on Woodbine Rd. There is a man I have seen that looks just like a serial child molester priest from New York whose pictures I have seen in newspaper articles..I thought it can’t be him since Vianney no longer allows child predators but well now we know different ! An article mentioned him being in a ‘facility”

  4. Out here in the Archdiocese of San Francisco we can only pray that our Attorney General will be as courageous. Our indicted priest pedophiles were released due to the Supreme Court’s Stogner decision. Kudos to Kathleen Kane.


  5. Suspended in August and headed straight to Downingtown in September.. safe to say he wasn’t there for Vianney’s famous weight loss program?

  6. Hi Kathy,
    Sadly, your report is not shocking to me that very dangerous sexual abusers are free to roam away from facilities when they should be kept under lock and key.

    A facility in Maryland were I learned my abuser Fr. Hermley was sent to along with other abusive clery had the freedom to come and go as they pleased and in addition had full internet access without any supervision.

    1. The honor system is used …what a joke. For those who do not have off site privileges and are supposed to remain on the grounds all they would have to do is step over a small shrub or walk down an open driveway. Dennis when I found the patient at the school I was told by Vianney that they take this very seriously and anyone who breaks the rules must leave..so I asked if that patient was gone..nope of course not, he remained. Honor system and no follow through on rules.

      LLW that should answer your question above when you ask why the Catholic clergy even have their own treatment centers..so they can do things like this that would never be tolerated in the real world.

  7. Kathy, I hear you. My teen was in a Psych Facility recently. The locked wards, guards, very restricted visiting hours, no electronics, etc, was, of course, upsetting to her. However, I knew that is regular protocol. Ha! Silly me!!

    1. LLW I have my Master’s degree in social work and have interacted with psych facilities,drug and alcohol rehabs,homeless shelters etc in placing individuals and have never encountered any facility allowing patients to be completely unattended in order to use the community as part of their therapy…ever. I was a 22 year old rookie social worker escorting MH patients from my office to appointments at the local MH center in center city Philadelphia so that they were not roaming and loitering in the area of the center. The list of rules for homeless shelters was endless..psych facilities were lock down or limited privileges with escorts. Drug and alcohol very strict with no leaving the treatment program without staff. Even soup kitchens had rules in order to keep the neighborhood safe and they were simply going to get a meal.

      Hope your daughter is doing well

  8. Catholic clergy have their own treatment centers because it permits them to have power and control, make their own rules, devise their own treatment plans that are in sync with their culture and faith, hide from public view the human limitations of clergy in order to foster and maintain notions of priestly perfection, and because clergy who have limitations are not riffraff, scum, or the lowliest of low like, possibly, the rest of the human population exhibiting the same limitations. You don’t mix and treat clergy with THEM. Clergy are special, even in light of their limitations. Their priesthoods have imbued them with certain innate rights, qualities, attributes and being-ness that qualify them for “Other” methods of treatment and “Different” sets of rules.

    Yes, priests respond to THIS kind of treatment:
    1. They forgive each other easily.
    2. They save and rescue each other through inspiration, brotherly camaraderie and blind compassion.
    3. They are extremely optimistic about their own abilities to transcend their limitations.
    4. They sense that their recovery is guided by the hand of God.
    5. They are healed and changed by supreme truth.
    6. They sense that they occupy a universe that is over-flowing with the abundance of God, His grace and help. (Providence.)
    7. They are representatives of Christ! And no one ever forgets that.
    8. They see the world as miraculous. Miracles happen, including and likely to them.
    9. They believe that just being in each other’s presence is healing.
    10.They expect from each other a naturally high level of moral conduct, minimizing the need for strict or stringent rules.
    11.They flourish in imaginary and dreamed up environments and treatment programs that match and stroke their abstract and esoteric thinking and views of themselves. “Real” is cruel.

      1. Kate..yes from my meetings and phone calls over the years your comments are right on target about the mentality..and that extends to some lay staff of these facilities also..not just fellow clergy. If I could have questions answered honestly..which won’t happen…but if it did..my first question would be to ask if they take in patients that have been non compliant with rules who have been bounced from other Catholic treatment centers or programs..odds are that answer would be YES. That they are called to do this. Which alleviates any sense of responsibility from the non compliant patient.

        1. And of course beside from being called to do this, the $$$$ involved with the various Diocese privately paying these facilities. I have little doubt that someone who broke the rules of one catholic “treatment’ center is just shuffled off to the next one.

          1. Kathy, you seem to imply that you expect some sort of rational, sensible, transparent, concrete and grounded-in-science-and-experience approach to treatment, rules, the breaking of rules, non-compliant patient responsibility, etc. But dioceses, archdioceses and Vianney-like facilities have sacrosanct objectives regarded as too important and “soaring” to be interfered with. Your expectations interfere. So they sidestep, dodge and avoid them. When the sacrosanct objectives are to save priestly souls and salvage priestly sinners, your mundane, ordinary, worldly and temporal expectations are neither applicable nor relevant.

            $$$$. It’s always a factor in everything.

          2. My expectations interfere..you hit the nail on the head again Kate. As a parent I am looking through the lens of protection of children . A priest once told me that my efforts are showing my children my love for them in action..love as a verb, not a noun. He is a great guy who actually helped me on a child protection issue. There are some who can break that clerical clutch and then there are those who think lying to parents about child rapists is okay. They grossly underestimated the staying power of a Mother.

  9. I fear getting older by the day. It’s not because I’m getting fatter or the hair is falling out or I am not as quick on my feet as I use to be. It’s the fear the children who we are letting down today by allowing predators to roam free are the same children who one day will be taking care of all us. These kids one day will be the lawmakers, the senators, the congressman and why should they care what happens to us since we did not care what happened to them as children. There is not one day that goes by you can pick up a newspaper, or watch the news, or get on the internet without hearing about a child being physically or sexually abused. It has to stop, or those relaxing golden years we look forward to will be the days we have to learn how to survive just like the abused children of today are learning how to do.

  10. Kathy Kane, being in a similar field, I know that your wonderful points are oh so valid. It’s just common sense. And to tie in with what Dennis says, not only is my daughter only doing so-so after her stay, 3 other teens that I personally know are in a Psych Facility as I write this. That makes a total of 4 teens in a 1 month period. I am not saying that they are child abuse related – one of them MAY be. I am just saying what a truly sad world for kids. They seem to be very vulnerable. Imagine adding any type of child sexual abuse on top of that??? SHUDDER!

  11. Dennis I don’t think abuse is increasing,I think we read about it more now because it is reported and out in the open..finally. But are we letting kids down when we don’t stand up for them? absolutely… Yes without a doubt. What message does that send impressionable young people..that abuse is no big deal? That is a scary thought.

    The former pastor of my parish who was in a prayer and penance program because he admitted child abuse became ill this year and there was a group of people from his various parishes over the years who were making him some kind of memory book..scrap book. I said to my kids can you imagine me or my husband sitting around our kitchen table making crafts and pictures for a child abuser? What message would that send to kids? That abuse is not a big deal..or that it is when some people do it, but not others???? My daughter was 5 years old when he retired from our parish ..at that time we knew nothing. She was in a group of girls that Irish danced at his retirement party . It makes me feel physically ill that she danced for him and his eyes were even on her.
    There are people who will not even talk to their kids about Vianney .Let’s just pretend that place is a nursing home..actually there are many people who actually think it is a nursing home.

  12. Well, if Vianney WAS a Nursing Home, it would have been sold already. That would probably be a great thing in THIS case. It would be run by totally different rules that wouldn’t cater to the fact that their population is made up of Catholic Clergymen that apparently are used to special treatment because of this AND are given it. Nope. They would have to follow the rules like anyone else. They should sell Vianney, and maybe it will become a much more helpful institution for their patients.

    The tragedy here is the Archdiocese selling the Catholic Nursing Homes to a corporation that doesn’t care about the extremely faithful elderly population that lived and supported the Church their whole lives. So at the end of their faithful lives,, they are now another group of betrayed people. with no value to the Archdiocese. The horrendous stories that I have heard about some of the best Catholic N.H.after they were sold is very sad. We know how penny pinching corporations are. What a shame for the Archdiocese to do this proving that they don’t care about our elderly faithful. They feel no obligation to. What a smack in the face.

    On the other hand, if only this would happen to Vianney Treatment Center. Those there would know how it feels to be seen as nobody special at all. no special treatment, no freedom to come and go while trying to be treated for very serious issues, and crimes and be a danger to the people in the community.The success rate might even possibly go up as well. (Isn’t that the point of being there????) And if the Church did sell Vianney, would that not give them a hefty amount of money? Apparently, for once, the Church is not interested in money when it comes to treating their own. And besides that, they are most likely wasting all that money there because they do not appear to follow correct and world wide accepted treatment practices.

    Sorry for the ramble – just my take on it.

  13. I am not trying to belabor my thoughts, but I want to add this. I got curious about finding more about Vianney on their website. Oh, the luxurious accommadations it has. It lists details.about their campus, and these 2 jumped out at me. The first one I listed was of course the most eye catching:

    Close proximity to a variety of restaurants and shopping
    Manicured lawn and gardens with outdoor seating

    So, for those that are in need of very serious treatment for a very serious crime and feel so horrible and immoral, and know that they have broken their sacred vows, as well as hitting rock bottom, and destroying an innocent, vulnerable person’s life, these would be very important to you, right???

  14. LLW have you ever heard of a drug and alcohol/.mental health treatment center advertising the proximity to nearby shopping??? Parts of the Vianney land were supposedly sold last year..the corn field right next to it was supposed to be developed into apartments or condos. Haven’t heard much about that recently. I am sure more schools will close..parishes..other services..the nursing homes..but Vianney will remain because of the population it serves. Also the money it generates must be lucrative with other Diocese paying to take in their people. Money.money money.
    There also used to be some language on the website something about you will feel special and not just like a number or diagnosis or something. Come here..feel special..close to shopping…is it a spa? Can we book it for a girls weekend?

  15. Kathy,

    The catholic church is caught in its power to deceive people and they believe their act is who they are. There are some who even believe they are totally together. The church has even got into this mindset that the rules created for others, do not apply to them. This is an ego saint. Once ego inflation is set in motion it is difficult to stop, as they need to be the victor and the superior person of stronger will. The ego saint defies the law, morality and common decency and it appears this almost cannot be stopped. We need to overcome this obstacle in order to create a stable social order in the church. We need a worthwhile sense of direction that gets us past the ego saint and to actualize objective values. The church is egocentric, the person on the top, so is chaos all that can change this consciousness? Does the church have to be threatened before it changes? Because of the deep ego saint beliefs can it change?

  16. PS: I do not mean to be putting you on the spot Kathy, I just thought maybe you had studied this and could offer direction.

    1. Syd,society has to change and hold the Church to the same consequences that all of the rest of live under. It is amazing when child related issues happen in various Dioceses and if the same thing happened within the local children’s sport league with sex abuse and cover ups, people would be up in arms. Slap a collar on the perpetrator and it is like slapping duct tape over the mouths of the parents of the community. That is changing slowly and the pace of change within the church will only match the pace of change within society with laws,prison time,cover ups exposed and Catholics finding their voice.

  17. Kathy Kane, In an older article I found that phrase that you were referring to:

    “We strive never to allow an individual to feel as though they are a number, a diagnosis or a problem. Recovery, reconciliation and healing are the hallmarks of the Vianney experience that differentiates us from others in the field.””

    Hmm…if pedophiles are not a PROBLEM, who may I ask is??? And if Vianney thinks that they should not be thought of or referred to as a problem, then why is the criminal there??

    Oh, I know it is to enjoy the manicured lawns and wonderful close by restaurants and shopping districts…

    1. LLW yep there it is. You are “different” and we will treat you different..God forbid as Kate said they were thrown out there in the world with the rest of us. The thing they don’t realize is that the real world is not half as dysfunctional as their world .
      As for the child predators who have cycled through there getting the ‘resort’ treatment”..they need time in federal prison not manicured lawns and patios

  18. There is a guy I have seen so many times that I think is the same person in this article..I have made eye contact with him when I sit in traffic on Woodbine. Most patients who walk the paths at Vianney don’t look over or seem to be in heavy thought as they walk…this guy always was looking over . Might not be the same guy but I have seen other pictures of him in articles with a clearer photo and the similarities are uncanny . If it is the same guy then the close supervision the article states is not correct because he could simply walk right out of the driveway. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/02/02/ex-harlem-pastor-living-under-close-supervision/

  19. Vianney’s language, addressed by Kathy, along the lines of you’ll feel special here, you won’t be just a number, you won’t be known or labeled by your condition, and its perks of manicured lawns and close proximity to shopping, etc., center on maintaining the dignity of the office of priest which is maintained by maintaining the dignity of priests, themselves. The power of the priesthood and, indeed, its continuity depend on maintaining its dignity.

    When maintaining the priesthood’s dignity is uppermost in the minds of people who oversee, devise treatment programs, and make rules at Vianney-like facilities, it skews and distorts, if not perverts, their thinking. It really is dereliction of duty because it compromises and hurts patients, the public, and children. It’s cultish! It’s a misplaced and excessive admiration for something (the priesthood’s dignity) that overshadows a facility’s responsibility to function according to best practices.

    How sick is that?

    I’m tired of the priesthood compromising us, hurting us, and making us sick.

    1. That is so true…….the perversion, distortion of psychiatric care and behavioral health treatment to serve the distorted, treacherous and ego-driven needs of RCC leadership…….. evil and criminal conduct at so many different points and levels of RCC management and leadership to allow such a sexually-abusive enterprise to thrive and remain hidden.

      How does the lure of the “Stairway to Heaven” ensnare so many individuals/professionals to participate in such a subtle conspiracy that continues to put ALL children at risk for sexual abuse and predation?

      Michael Skiendzielewski

        1. micklega, some time ago when the Vianney issue was being discussed here and in the media, I reached out to JCAH (Joint Commission of the Accreditation of Hospitals, the gold star in certification which Vianney has). I asked JCAH management what special policies for evaluation and review are used in such a facility (to ensure integrity, validity etc. of diagnoses and treatment) when the facility is owned by the archdiocese, the treating professionals are paid by the archdiocese and in many instances, the patients (priests) are paid employees of the archdiocese.

          JCAH replied that Vianney met the existing standards for quality of care specified by JCAH and that Vianney is JCAH certified. No special rules, policies, evaluation methods, utilization review procedures, etc. due to the particular unique conditions I specified above.

          1. Michael..yep at one pint when Vianney shut me down they directed me to JCAH….knowing of course that these overseeing entities have minimal guidelines and that you can have an excellent facility and a bottom of the barrel facility and both have JCAH accreditation..and you are exactly correct that many Dioceses simply pay for their clergy to stay there..no insurnace billed

          2. And of course other JCAH accredited facilities we spoke to who do not let their patients roam the local community…

          3. The other question is if I had not reported that patient at the school to the joint commission…would the facility have self reported the incident?

    1. God forbid a depraved child pornographer feel like a problem,a number or a diagnosis

    2. Treatment at Vianney seems to focus on removing the sting of transgressions and weaving them into faith-journeys where they get buried and absolved.

  20. “The center is named after St. John Vianney, the patron saint of the parish priest, ” I am quite sure that this is not what St. John Vianney had in mind. Thank you for your input, ladies.

    1. Interesting when you read the documents; I believe there are similar ones two year in a row……..I would love to ask the State regulators and reviewers the issues and concerns I have always had and presented here at C4C regarding the integrity, objectivity and validity of the diagnoses, treatment plans, etc. ( due to the fact that ALL of the players – patient, treating professional and management are paid by the same source, Archdiocese of Philadelphia).
      With medical concerns, conditions and illnesses, isn’t there a utilization review to consider the appropriateness of the diagnosis, treatment and patient outcome?

      1. Interesting that it mentions 9 records..how many patients do they have 30? and 9 were not in order? not like it is a facility with hundreds of patients to keep documentation on correctly.

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