York Daily Record Exposes 15 Accused Priest Abusers


Excerpt: A list of 15 priests, compiled by the York Daily Record, was provided to the diocese on June 14. On July 21, after multiple requests by the Daily Record, the diocese responded to each name on the list. It is believed to be the first time the Harrisburg diocese has confirmed a list of accused priests, including details on where and when they served, and how the diocese responded when the allegations were made.

Click here to read the full article: “15 Priests Accused of Abuse Had Ties to Harrisburg Diocese,” by Brandie Kessler, York Daily Record, August 9, 2016

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46 Responses to “York Daily Record Exposes 15 Accused Priest Abusers”

  1. This reporter is amazing! She worked her tail off on this report!

  2. “Patrick Shannon was assigned to Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Lewisburg from August 1993 to November 2005, according to the Harrisburg diocese. “His Order informed the Diocese of an allegation against him that took place prior to his assignment here. We immediately removed him from ministry and offered counseling to anyone who desired it,” the Harrisburg diocese wrote in a statement. The diocese said it has no record of a credible allegation against Shannon while he was assigned in the diocese. The York Daily Record was unable to reach Shannon”

    He taught in Philly oblate of St Francis De Sales – any other assignment besides the camp where he was with Mc Devitt (taught in Harrisburg)and another two, one on the list of 12, the other whose arrest record has vanished into thin air.. Know the Oblates were in Reading for only one year. Why?

    With the number of complaints and the transferring of Oblates including Both Hermleys,to so many different states the phone should be ringing off the hook.

    Guess the WP and other media outlets don’t want to investigate the number of these monsters within a mile of the National Shrine to Our Lady. Seems that child rape is only being addressed by a few brave souls in the media – thank you.The silence continues.

    • Ed

      The Hermley’s you happen to speak of does one happen to be Robert Hermley who taught at Father Judge H.S. and was also the tennis coach ?

      The pond scum who was also my abuser !

      Your comment has given me the impression Hermley abused way before me and if that is the case the OSFS are &%$#*&% liars.

      • Yes, I know that he was assigned to Delaware when I was asked to help check on a priests. I had a nice discussion with that priest both knowing that the parents at Judge thought he was being kept away from children.The priest that I was with could not help to push the issue when I was confronting the problems at the camp. Having worked with sexual abuse in both Children’s Hospital, DC and Columbia Hospital Hospital for Women while earning my credits in CPE -ministry certification so I had a few discussions over patients and confidentiality in the early 80’s with the current problems with reporting sex crimes. Actually a few transfers including a religious in my opinion was sent to minister with a priests who abused.

        Dennis, I don’t like to bring his name for your sake, but where are all the others now. Possibly the kids he took to Pennypack Park when at 15 (1960) I went up to a car, but by that time he ducked and had a kid drive the car. How many parents just ignored my mom, a train alcohol and drug therapist told him and others her opinion. He has victims in many states and kept abusing.Many parents did complain about him.

        Dennis, thank you for speaking out, but take care of yourself. These priests have been getting away with this for too long. So you understand, The witness I speak of at the camp would not give me the name of the abuser or victim he was in shock and only because I went for a beer and seen him in distress I would not have a possibility of evidence. Too bad it was the last day and everyone was leaving. So even adults are too shock to comprehend a priests being so violent so I can’t imagine what you felt. Of course I was sent to therapy for anger issues and they wouldn’t put down the real reason

        • I too wish I knew where or who his other victims are I wish I did especially those victims who came after me. I need to tell them how sorry I am for not coming forward after I was abused and allowing Hermley to attack them as well.

          • Dennis: Please don’t blame yourself for what this monster did to others after he abused you. He alone is responsible for what he did to you and other victims. Although it is very common for victims to take responsibility for victims that were abused afterward, you were not in any way responsible.This perp went from state to state to avoid being found out. He was aided and abetted by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the order to which he belonged. For more information on Hermley you may want to contact Steve Neuberger who I met at the most recent Harrisburg rally in support of Mark Rozzi”s legislationl. Steve and his father successfully sued the Archdiocese of Wilmington on behalf of victims. I suspect he knows more about this guy. Their website is http://www.NeubergerLaw.com.Their email address is SJN @NeubergerLaw.com.

          • Dennis, thank you for surviving. You are here today and when you are able you speak out. Even with a witness we were not able to stop McDevitt, Hermley, Grant and a host of others from abusing kids. You would have no protection and probably faced a lawsuit if he was not found guilty. You did what so many close to me did survive. I know people who did pursue rape charges in the 60’s and 70’s, a lifetime of anger knowing what they did did not result in getting a rapist in jail. We read of more success stories because survivors on this site have shown you are not alone. Also, Hermley was identified, the parents did believe that they had agreements with the Oblates and Hermley was well known to a small number of parents. This was before you were abused and after.

            Dennis, the blame is on the Oblates and maybe I should publish the names of those that served at Salesianum from 1979 to 1987 including the Philly connections. That includes the principal and his assistant who shared a victim, both transferred to Philly schools. One started the abuse of a child at 8 yrs old. Mcdevitt was transferred there in 82 after the abuse at the camp occured -no jail time for his or any other religious for what happened there. After realizing nothing would happen, I left.

  3. Outstanding investigation and report. Recall this the next time you hear bishops congratulating themselves on their transparency and accountability.

    • Ms. Disco, hope all is well with you but your comment left me no choice but to respond.

      Transparency and accountability???? from the crew at the PA Catholic Conference and the spiritual leaders of dioceses and archdioceses across the Commonwealth of PA???

      I don’t think so……never happened, never will……………these guys pride themselves on their arrogance, hubris, obfuscation, legerdemain, deceit and treachery.

      All I know is that these dysenteries (er, I mean dignitaries) are just beginning to learn the true meaning of one very special word in the English language……………COMEUPPANCE.

      Michael Skiendzielewski
      Captain (retired)
      Philadelphia Police Dept.

  4. Just to let you know the story went national on usatoday.com. Need to put in search “sexual abuse” I want to thank Jason and Chris the photographers and videographers at the York Daily Record too. Excellent job by all! The video portion has had thousands of hits on Facebook. Hope it gets some attention!

  5. Dennis I felt horrible when I found out my monster raped a 6 year old after he violated me thinking I could have saved her. They would not have cared or listened had I been able to say something. We were children for heavens sake! No survivors guilt. Celebrate that we have been able to survive and witness to the world what has happened to try to keep it from continuing. Children need our voices

  6. And thank you for the follow up editorial to the story with the video

    Also, Rossi facebook page wants survivors of priests in both Harrisburg and Allentown. Realize that this info needs to be shared with everyone. I important fact that is shown by the editorial and the above report is these priests are transferred from everywhere including those who left Virginia and are in Allentown or arrested in Delaware and are in Allentown. So if you think your family is safe, read where these priests are from or read how someone in Perryville,Md has affected so many in Philly.

    • I believe that the attorney general wants to have the names and maybe some media. Most of my friends use the old fashion way – write. I know how even Word Press (not intentionally) has leaked names including mine and when asked I told that the security on so many social sites can be easily hacked. Know that even lawyer information can also be stolen.Actually I hate facebook – too much personal info that can be used to lure kids. Thanks for the reminder, need to check a few priests name on there including a few on the Oblates’ list.

      Tfrey, you bring up very important points and each person needs to know where they are at and what risk they can take.

      As I stated many time no one knows why I am passionate about this issue – don’t have permission in some cases and other I hope they will guide their flock properly and really push this issue against their bishop.

      Also, you have posted about that family and I wonder how much political influence keeps the truth about your story and the story of so many others silent. You can’t trust anyone. In 1977 an Oblate in DC was a chaplain to the wives of Catholic federal judges. Talk about power and influence.

      Good luck in your journey.

    • TFrey: I understand your concern with Facebook. I don’t ever go on Facebook. AS a survivor, I am really careful with what Social Media I will use. And yet on this site and others, I use my given name. I do that to leave open the doorway, so that other victims who may have been abused by the same priest can come forward. There is a phone number that Mark Rozzi gave out during the latest rally for House Bill 1947 that you can call. It is 1-888-538-8541 .This phone number will connect you with the State Attorney General’s office. They are trying to get some idea about the number of childhood sexual abuse victims in the State .I am not sure about anonymity but I am sure they will be open and honest with you. Good Luck with your journey.

  7. You could contact his office to find out the best way to report. His office staff is awesome
    We are Catholics4change ( or at least former ones).
    In order to make change we need to speak out somehow even if our circumstances don’t allow us to do it publicly

  8. http://www.awrsipe.com/Forensic/2009-sheehan-v-oblates.htm#_ftn5

    look at #19 and footnotes, one is in the Allentown Diocese,Still trying to find the actual deposition of that case – followed the same path as Dick Grant and many others Va to DE and Pa.
    #25 what the Oblates new

    ## 26 even during the 60’s while in training they knew of this predator.
    If only I could have gotten the stories at St. Charles during the 60’s and 70’s ( I was given bits & pieces). Sure we would similar problems with Brennan, Avery and others. Don’t buy that BS, they knew.

  9. I must thank Mr. Gunn for his information on Father Hermley it truly shows how dangerous my abuser truly was but I have to wonder if it has triggered the feelings that I have been having since I read his information and has raised so many questions that I now have.

    First let me say I will use caution about what I am about to say because I do know there are a lot of crazy people out there who might say ” you were raped” get over it. But I have to ask these questions because maybe just maybe there are other people out there who might feel the same way I do but can’t get their questions answered by even their therapist.

    Is there other people out there who have because of their abuse suffered any physical ailments they believe could only be attributed to the abuse they suffered. For me when I was a child I was diagnosed with petit mal seizures of unknown etiology meaning the doctors could not come up with any clinical reason why this was happening to me. My therapist believes it was my bodies coping measure to deal with my abuse. I have suffered 8 heart attacks, yes folks you are reading it write 8. I had my first one when I was only 29. Since then open heart surgery, fem fem bypass and aortic fem bypass. I can no longer walk and must use a wheelchair to get around and I am only 54 years old. Something else my therapist believes can only be attributed to the stress of being raped. I received that speech from her that the mind is very powerful.

    …and how many other people have suffered other issues you believe can only be attributed to your abuse ? (please don’t leave your names) Substance abuse, PTSD, anger issues, relationship failures, overprotectiveness, suicidal thoughts, I know for me I have suffered all of these except for substance abuse, and for the thoughts of taking my life I have told my therapist that would never happen because one I am coward, second I will not let that bastard Hermley win and thirdly I have a little girl who loves her daddy so much. What example would I leave for my daughter. I have lost my spouse that can be directly linked to my abuse. Although she has told me she loves me very much she can no longer live with me. the nightmares, the screaming I do when I have a bad day, and how can I ask someone to go through the same pain we do. I cannot expect her to do that because it is true our loved ones become victims too.

    …and finally. I am a firm believer in God and after my rape I have never steered away from that belief. I was also raised to respect priests as if they were the right hand of God. But how many of you who have been abused by clergy questioned not the existence of God but how could a God we love so much abandon us ? EVERYBODY SHOULD KNOW BY NOW WE DID NOTHING WRONG THAT LED TO OUR ABUSE. But many of us who have been abused by clergy have been dealing with the pain inside from the time of our abuse and decades later. For me it is now 41 years later. I need to ask the question that I know there is no answer to but when will God end the pain that we all struggle with us each day ? What are some secrets that others have been using to gain control or forget their abuse. I see my therapist three times a week and she has been able to tell me the secret. I know when I first walked into her office the first thing I told her was I wanted to be hypnotized, I wanted the memories of my abuse wiped clean from my mind. Was I shocked when she told me it does not work that way. I only want some peace of mind while I am in this life before God calls me to him,

    Thank You C4C to allow me to voice my thoughts.

    • Dennis you spoke for all of us. He trashed my life.
      I had to list all these things that I lost in my lawsuit. It was horrifically painful to itemize each area. I had not realized the impact on social, financial, intimacy, vocational…. I wrote an 11 page list to submit to my attorney.
      Somehow voicing it all as horrid as it was helped me connect the dots. Rather than focusing what was lost in 45 years I could focus on what could be fixed
      Anxiety has subsided. I don’t reflexly push my spouse away when he leans down to kiss me if I’m sitting ( a trigger). I am able to say “no too busy” in my work (was afraid of rejection before which then made me angry when overworked). Etc etc etc.
      Counseling has restored my faith in God as a loving creator. I know you and I and the rest of us aren’t the trash we have felt we were, but precious creations. Hope you all can feel peace in time too. With love and prayer, Suz

      • Suz, What hurts the most is the loss of my spouse, the family unit. The heart attacks, the scars from surgeries and the pain from them is nothing compared to the loss of a loved one. Hermley not only destroyed me but he destroyed my family. And I know I cannot ask her to return just to be a victim again.

        I know for a fact there are those down at 17th street that read C4C. Why are they not hearing us. Why do they wish to ignore us ? What are they protecting ? An image ! Don’t they know there image now is nothing more then an organization of raping animals and filled with people who protected them and that is sad because there are those few priests who are good.

        • I married a saint. No one else in the world would have stuck it out with me. The abuse gave me chronic pain and very severe emotional and medical issues too
          It sounds unbelievable but it was a relief to get my breasts cut off when I got cancer because I could only connect them with the touch of his filthy hands rather than part of my femininity since I was beginning to develop physically when attacked.

        • I’m so very sorry for your loss!

  10. Sorry correction: I see my therapist three times a week and she has be UNABLE to tell me the secret.

    • Dennis: I read somewhere that adults who were abused sexually as children live about ten years less than those who were not abused .I truly believe that to be true. If nothing else, the tremendous stress that we live with from the time that the abuse happens til the time we pass creates physical and psychological problems. Personally. I repressed the memories of the abuse from the age of twelve til I was almost forty.I began to use alcohol at the age of twenty one and quit when I was thirty eight. During that time, I struggled with depression, thoughts of suicide and alcoholism. It was not until two years into sobriety that the memories of the abuse came back. Since the time the memories came back, I have been putting the pieces together of what the abuse did to me. Although there were certainly other factors in my life that created the same kind of problems you describe, I truly believe that the sexual abuse was by far the overwhelming cause of most of my problems. In many ways the Catholic Church was my last chance. With all the physical, emotional and psychological abuse I suffered at home, I had to go to Church to suffer sexual abuse. When I needed it to be a refuge, the Catholic Church was another source of abuse.

      • Jim: What you say is so true. I know I won’t be here to walk my daughter down the isle, I may not even be around to teach her how to drive. That is why I cherish every second with her. But the fear of dying does not bother me. What bothers me the most Is the fear of growing old and dying alone.

  11. The York Sunday News put this story into a 4 page cover story spread PLUS an outstanding editorial in the Opinion section! When we stood outside the state house and the media was poorly represented my heart collapsed thinking “no one cares”. Well Brandie Kessler proved otherwise!

  12. Dennis, sorry to read of your pain.As you know you have friends here and most understand more of what you are going through , more than I ever will. You in a few sentences express what should outrage every human person. A few little words can not wipe out the pain you have suffered,How dare the RCC and the Oblates not understand that as they attempt to block you healing.Thank you to the survivors that do understand and will help you..Thanks, Ed

    https://www.hbgdiocese.org/2016/08/09/youth-protection-announcement/.

    • From Jim Tucker’s post and he reposted here on this thread:

      One thing that Mark Rozzi mentioned yesterday that I also received an email from Michael Baumann about was a phone number to call at the Attorney Generals Office in Harrisburg. They want to know about all cases of childhood sexual abuse that occurred within the State of Pennsylvania. They don’t care about how long ago it happened, only that it happened to someone under the age of eighteen. The Phone Number is : 1-888-538-8541. I have not called yet but I intend to do so.The Attorney General and her staff want to gauge how much abuse occurred in Pennsylvania.This is important and I urge all victims/survivors to call.

      That is different than the number given in the letter. The letter was given out this Sunday at churches in Harrisburg diocese.Will childline give cases that the SOL has expired to the AG or give the usual red tape to victim/survivors.From what I heard, childline is underfunded and understaffed.

  13. Hi, everyone,
    I’m the reporter who wrote this story. I wanted to leave a comment so you all have my contact information in the event you want to reach me about the article or this topic. I can be reached by email at bkessler@ydr.com or at my direct desk number, 717-771-2035. I am working on follow-up articles and I’d appreciate any comments, suggestions or questions.
    Thanks,
    Brandie Kessler

    • Just Harrisburg? How many priests at in the diocese are from religious orders or congregations? Will you follow up? Still haven’t heard about a few priests when contacting media/lawyers, My guess is that the at risk kids I worked with don’t count. Only with the help of observant parishioners, citizens and police officers will we be able to identify those predators.

      If you are interested in all PA I will respond.

      Thank you for your article and those who have contributed.

      • The field is too big so she is focusing her research on one diocese . Her newspaper Is in York.
        Im hoping her work can be a model for other parts of PA. She started with a list of 7 and brought it up to 15.
        Statistically there might be 54! People have to come forth and report them to find the other estimated 39
        That’s enough work for more than one reporter

      • Thanks for your comment. I would be interested in information about all of Pennsylvania, but with the goal of being able to move the story regarding the Harrisburg diocese forward. As Suzpt said below, the York Daily Record covers York County, so we narrowed our focus to the Harrisburg diocese. But I’m still interested in any connections to the Harrisburg diocese. If you’d like to email me, that would be great. bkessler@ydr.com.
        Thanks,
        Brandie

  14. Brandie, thank you for your excellent work.

    On another note…

    Here, in NY, it’s a little disconcerting to wake up to the less than honorable news pertaining to two players in the story of sexual abuse in PA– AG Kathleen Kane and Seth Williams (his belated gift-reporting).

    A person is inclined to want to look to something above and beyond politics for some semblance of order and integrity… say, the Philly archdiocese, the PA Catholic Conference, the Johnstown-Altoona diocese. Fat chance.

    Can’t help it. When I think anything-PA, I think “infused with crime, sin and corruption.”

    • Katie, still like to know the problems that happened that prevented the religious being charge in the early 80’s after all that work to find a witness. Believe I know the person who probably allowed McDevitt into the Oblates – another politician. Of course a lawyer tried to mixed up can’t swim and fear of water – the main reason I could not persue another survivor – still like to know the real abuser there though the original priest is being investigated for molesting a child under 18. Big business also has their hand in it. Still remember the insurance company sitting with a big smile knowing hey would win both ways during my lawsuit. Definitely would like to know about all those people thet knew about Brennan – especially know those who risk all only to feel the power of the RCC.

  15. I encourage anyone in the HBG diocese to call Brandie. She is incredibly sensitive to our pain. Just talking to her and having her listen and care was healing for me
    The amount of work she has done on this report is incredible. I hope that her work can blow the lid off all the secrecy. If you live elsewhere, but know victims in the Harrisburg diocese please encourage them to call her. You can trust her to insure their privacy & only share something if you want. They will feel safe speaking to her! For those of us like myself with HUGE trust issues from abuse, this is a big switch!
    Suz

  16. Brandie Kessler had another great article in today’s York Sunday News! Front Page again.
    Also I had an opinion piece put on their website today. “If you were abused by a priest speak up!” Check out ydr.com

    • Suz you inspired me to go back one more time and look at a situation involving child protection that has frustrated many in coming up with a solution. I had all but given up ,but felt my energy recharged with the work that you and Brandi did on these articles. I came up with an idea and contacted the appropriate people/authorities and all were recpetive that my idea might work and finally solve a situation that has been a source of worry for me for the past few years involving child safety from predators in the local community. I will keep you posted as things move along but thank you for your efforts ,you are making a difference not only to children, but for those who work on their behalf.

      • *receptive

      • Thank you Kathy! Someone asked me today what motivates me to speak. I was so shy I didn’t like to call for pizza. First of a all I have been blessed with healing through the help of Turning Point York. Didn’t want to hide that light under a bushel basket. But later a friend who was raped by a man in our town told me she can’t sleep worrying about children and is reminded she is powerless when she sees the monster in the supermarket The church has lobbied to keep those kids in harms way. The 95% that aren’t clergy are given a free pass by the church’s blocking reform.
        I don’t think most of the world gives a rip about victims but they do want their own kids safe. I believe that’s where the awareness has to go so it hits them that this can hurt their kids.

  17. The Church where I was abused[St. John of the Cross in Roslyn] is closing up shop in mid September. It merged with Queen of Peace in Ardsley two years ago. From the Press release issued by Herr Chaput, it is too expensive to keep open, even as a Worship Center. I guess there were not enough Funerals and Weddings to keep it going. If they need someone to push the plunger down to blow the place up, I will certainly volunteer.

    • Hello Jim,

      You are not alone in your feeling about pushing the plunger. I know I feel the same way about Father Judge H.S. and its rectory. I dream one day coming into alot of money and buying up all the property and bulldozing those buildings down to the ground. The same way Forrest Gump destroyed the house of horror for his girlfriend.

      Do I think it would do any good ? Probably not but I sure would like to find out.

      • Dennis: Of course we both know that these are buildings and buildings were not responsible for the abuse we suffered as kids.It was the priests who inhabited those buildings that harmed us.But those buildings are symbols of the Church that did nothing to stop the abuse.The more I learn about the Catholic Church and their role in the abuse and especially the cover up, the more anger comes to the surface.They knew about what was happening to children, long before the public started to gain knowledge of the widespread abuse and they chose to protect their priests and ignore the victims. They can spin it any way they want, but they alone were responsible for all the harm. I wish that the walls of all the Catholic Churches, the rectories and all the other buildings where abuse took place could talk. I wish they could tell all the secrets of all the victims that happened inside those walls.I really believe trhat we have not even scratched the surface of all the abuse.

  18. This was published in this week’s York Daily Record:

    In 1987 the world watched and prayed while a team of engineers brainstormed and worked with all their might for over 58 hours to rescue Jessica McClure, “Baby Jessica” from the bottom of a well in Texas. The story of her rescue was made into a movie “The Well.”

    Also in the 1980’s another little girl was trapped in a different kind of well in Boston. It was a well of hell! My little 6-year-old friend was being raped with a butter knife by my perpetrator.
    No one came to her rescue. No one heard her screams of pain and horror, just as no one heard my silent screams when the same priest violated me; Jessica escaped with a scar on her forehead and lost a toe, but has no memory of the incident. My friend lost her childhood innocence and suffers the effects of PTSD every day of her life.

    The recent editorial reported that the Harrisburg diocese stated that some allegations of abuse were “low profile”. What is that supposed to mean? Only one victim? Sexual abuse lite? (You are either violated or not!) Not worth mentioning for some reason?

    Who gets to decide to be King Solomon and decide the fate of a child? The average perpetrator has 101 victims. (52 girls or 150 boys). What if 101 children were in a well in Texas? How would the world react to save them? If just 1 man is on that “low profile” list, that that places 101 children in your community in a well of hell. Not listing their names means lack of full transparency.

    By naming names the Harrisburg diocese puts a cap on the well. They are walking away and ignoring the screams of the 101 children trapped inside a chamber of horrors. Our innocents have no voice. No one can hear their screams!

    Brandie Kessler’s recent report on abuse was ground breaking beginning to help protect our children. But there is more work to be done. Statistics say there are more. There may be a few more or a few less but the fact is that there are more to be reported.

    If you were a victim or know a name they NEED to be on a list if you care about children and know a name please contact her at the YDR office. Your voice can give a child a voice!

    Susan Blum.
    New Freedom

  19. Hello, everyone.
    I just wanted to make you all aware that the York Daily Record published another story which ran in yesterday’s newspaper about more accused priests with ties to the Harrisburg diocese who have been named. This is the first time, I believe, that these priests have been named publicly. Feel free to read and share the article.
    http://www.ydr.com/story/news/2016/08/26/diocese-three-priests-added-list-alleged-abusers/89418370/
    Best,
    Brandie Kessler
    York Daily Record reporter
    bkessler@ydr.com
    717-771-2035

  20. Brandie wrote another great piece in the paper since a woman wrote a very critical letter about the paper attacking the church.
    My husband wrote an opinion piece which was put on the YDR.com website today in response to Bishop Gainer’s “heartfelt sorrow” about the abuse.

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