Grand jury report on Catholic Church sex abuse identifies over 1000 child victims

By Steve Pope and Terri Hill | August 14, 2018

Shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released the highly anticipated grand jury report concerning allegations of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy that identified over 300 priests and over 1,000 child victims.

The 884-page report documents decades of sexual assaults and rapes of children by “predator priests” and the institutional cover ups that followed by senior church officials, including at times, the Vatican.

The report which was completed over an 18-month period, provides in-depth and shocking detail of over 1,000 children victimized sexually by 301 “predator priests,” with the grand jury noting it believed the real number of victims was in the “thousands.”

“Most of the victims were boys; but there were girls, too. Some were teens; many were prepubescent. Some were manipulated with alcohol or pornography. Some were made to masturbate their assailants, or were groped by them. Some were raped orally, some vaginally, some anally. But all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all,” the report said.

The report recounts a particularly disturbing case of abuse out of the Diocese of Scranton where one priest, Thomas Skotek, allegedly raped a young girl, got her pregnant, and arranged an abortion.

In response to the alleged abuse, Bishop James Timlin expressed his feelings in a letter to the priest — not to the girl saying: “This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief.”

Senior church officials, including bishops, monsignors and others, including those in the Vatican, were aware of the abuses committed by priests, but routinely covered it up to avoid scandal, criminal charges against priests, and monetary damages to the dioceses.

With the assistance of the FBI the grand jury documented a system used by church officials to hide the abuses, including the use of code words in church documents.

“First, make sure to use euphemisms rather than real words to describe the sexual assaults in diocese documents,” the report said.  “Never say “rape”; say “inappropriate contact” or “boundary issues.”

Priests who committed acts of sexual abuse upon children, and were routinely shuttled to other parishes, while parishioners were left unaware of sexual predators in their midst.

“If a predator’s conduct becomes known to the community, don’t remove him from the priesthood to ensure that no more children will be victimized. Instead, transfer him to a new location where no one will know he is a child abuser.”

The church handled alleged abuse by clergy as a “personnel matter” as opposed to reporting the allegations to police and simply moved priests suspected of abusing children to other locations.

In all, the report identified 41 priests from Erie; 37 from Allentown; 20 from Greensburg; 99 from Pittsburgh; 45 from Harrisburg and 59 from Scranton who the grand jury alleged abused children.

Names of 13 clergy members were redacted from the report because they have filed objections pursuant to an order from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Arguments are scheduled in September over whether or not the names will remain shielded from disclosure.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro whose efforts led to the report’s release, referred to the clergy members who objected to their names being released as “cowards” and said, “Shamefully, these petitioners still don’t have the courage to tell the public who they are.”

On its website the Diocese of Greensburg listed the names of 21 clergy members with, “credible and substantiated allegations” of abuse, but added in a statement, “Neither of the independent file reviews revealed any credible and substantiated allegations of prior sexual misconduct by a priest currently serving in the Diocese of Greensburg.”

The grand jury recommended four substantial changes to Pennsylvania law that would make it easier to criminally charge those suspected of abuse and for abuse victims to seek compensation from their abusers:

  1. Eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing childrenCurrent law permits victims to come forward until age 50.
  2. Create a “civil window” so older victims may now sue for damages.  Current law gives child sex abuse victims 12 years to sue, once they turn 18. But victims in their 30s and older fall under a different law; they only get two years.
  3. Clarify penalties for a continuing failure to report child abuse. The grand jury recommends changing the abuse reporting law to clarify the duty to report abuse.
  4. Specify that Civil Confidentiality Agreements do not cover communications with law enforcement. The grand jury wrote that the Church has used confidentiality agreements as a way to silence abuse victims from speaking publicly or cooperating with law enforcement.

Diocese of Pittsburgh David Zubik apologized in a statement posted on its website saying ” We cannot bury our heads in the sand. There were instances in the past as outlined in this report, when the Church acted in ways that did not respond effectively to victims.  Swift and firm responses to allegations should have started long before they did  For that I express regret. At the same time,  I express gratitude to survivors  who have taught us to respond with compassion to those who are wounded and with determination to remove offenders from ministry.”

Steve Pope can be contacted at and Terri Hill can be contacted at

Sexual assault suspect sought by Greensburg police

By Amanda Klein | August 12, 2018

Greensburg police are searching for a 23-year-old man from Philadelphia who is alleged to have sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl.

Police on Friday obtained an arrest warrant for Sam Daquinn Oglesby, charging him with sexual assault, corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor in connection with the female.

According to a posting on the City of Greensburg Police Facebook page, Oglesby who is known to carry guns may have left the area and returned to Philadelphia.

Oglesby also goes by the nickname O.G.B. Sam.

Anyone with information on his location is urged to police at 724-834-3800.

Amanda Klein can be contacted at

Greensburg Catholic Diocese apologizes for past mistakes in a new report

By Steve Pope | August 10, 2018

The Diocese in a 17-page report released Wednesday, said “Admittedly, there have been occasions where the Church and the Diocese of Greensburg have faltered in their protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults, and for those the Diocese of Greensburg apologizes to the survivors and their families.”

A redacted version of a statewide grand jury report that is said to contain between 800 to 1000 pages, that is critical of the the way the Cahtolic Church has responded to allegations of child abuse, is expected to be released sometime next week.

In public statements, the Diocese of Greensburg has pledged to make public the names of clergy who have been accused in the past of abusing children, after the report is released.

The Diocese has pledged in the report to remove clergy members accused of abuse saying, “In accordance with Diocesan policy, as soon as the Diocese is made aware of the allegation and it is determined to be credible, the person is removed from his or her place of ministry.  If the allegation is substantiated, the individual is permanently removed from active ministry.”

According to the report the Greensburg Diocese, starting in 1985, has had an increasingly tighter policy of responding to abuse allegations.

In April 1985, the Diocese established their first written policy on Clergy Sexual Misconduct.  That initial policy expressly stated that the “hurting individuals/families…are of primary concern.”

In addition, it further said, “upon the receipt of a credible allegation, the priest was to be “relieved of his duties at the assignment” pending further investigation and evaluation.”

In September 1994, a new policy established a Bishop’s Delegate, who was placed “in charge of all investigations in regard to clergy sexual misconduct and subsequent interventions.”

At the conclusion of the investigation the Bishop’s Delegate would “prepare the materials for presentation and recommendations” to the newly-established Clergy Sexual Misconduct Review Board. The Review Board consisted of one priest and five independent laypeople.”

In 2002, a Diocesan Review Board was created to replace the Clergy Sexual Misconduct Review Board. The Board’s purpose was to oversee any internal investigations by the church and issue a report and recommendation to the Bishop.

In September 2012, the Diocese promulgated the “Code of Pastoral Conduct,” which applies to “all bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay members of the faithful — including all employees and volunteers — who assist in providing pastoral care in the Diocese of Greensburg, including its parishes, schools, programs and other Diocesan entities.”

“The “Code of Pastoral Conduct” provides “a new level of protection” by including vulnerable adults and defining  boundaries that must be maintained by adults who are in contact with minors or vulnerable adults in Church settings.

A  “zero tolerance” policy is in place, which was adopted in 2002 and “requires that any cleric credibly accused of abusing a child is to be immediately removed from his place of ministry pending a complete and independent investigation.”

In the event allegations of abuse are sustained, the accused priest is prohibited from ever being assigned to a church.

The diocese said in the report that in 2002, it reviewed personnel files of every priest who had served since the diocese was formed in 1951. The review found indications of possible improper conduct on the part of some priests dating back to the 1960s.

For the past 15 years mandatory background checks have been conducted of all clergy, lay staff and volunteers.

After the grand jury report is released the Diocese said it plans to release its own report.

Steve Pope can be contacted at


Former nursing aide who poured scalding water on a patient receives prison sentence

By Steve Pope | August 9, 2018

An Erie man who poured scalding water on a disabled man, severely burning him, was sentenced to two and a half years to five years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation.

Akeem Nixon, 27, of Erie, pleaded guilty in June to neglect of a care-dependent person and aggravated assault as a result of pouring scalding water on a 38-year-old man, who was living at the Lakeshore Community Services in Erie, where Nixon was employed as a direct support aide.

According to a criminal complaint on June 17, 2017, Nixon and another aide were working the day shift and were planning to attend an off-site event with another Lakeshore resident. Nixon stayed at the residence alone with the victim, a 38-year who suffers from cerebral palsy.

When the other caregiver returned that evening, Nixon told him the victim was asleep. Nixon left a short time later at the end of his shift.  When another aide arrived, the victim came out of his bedroom and said, “Hurt, hurt.”

A doctor evaluated the man and determined that he had received second degree burns over 20 percent of his body.

“This defendant assaulted a disabled man in his care with scalding water,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Today, he was held accountable for his crimes. Protecting care-dependent Pennsylvanians from neglect and assaults like this is a high priority of my office.”

Steve Pope can be contacted at

Slippery Rock firearms dealer faces federal indictment

By Amanda Klein | August 8, 2018

A gun dealer in Slippery Rock has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges that from September 8, 2017 through April 15, 2018, he sold firearms without conducting the required background check of the buyer and made false statements on federal firearms forms.

According to an affidavit prepared by a federal investigator, William Midberry, 37, of Slippery Rock, who operated the Slippery Rock Outfitters gun dealership, made false entries onto federal firearms purchase forms and also wrote fraudulent authorization numbers, that he told authorities he received from the state police that authorized the purchases.

A unique number is given by the Pennsylvania Instant Check System, run by the state police, each time a firearms dealer conducts a background check before the sale of a firearm. The number is required to be written on the purchase form.

An auditor with the Pennsylvania State Police told the investigator that Midberry’s account that permitted him to conduct background checks on potential buyers was suspended in September of 2017 for non payment of fees, the filing said.

The affidavit also alleges that during an April 27, 2018 audit conducted by U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents, Midberry was unable to account for a silencer as well as two firearms that he received from wholesalers.

Also, records from four wholesalers show that Midberry received 19 firearms that are either unaccounted for, or were not listed in his inventory, as required under federal law.

If convicted of the charges Midberry faces a maximum sentence of not more than two years in prison, a fine of not more than $200,000, or both.

Amanda Klein can be contacted at

State police seize drugs worth over $2 million dollars

By Amanda Klein | August 7, 2018

State police on Monday seized 8 pounds of suspected heroin with a street value of just over $2 million dollars during a traffic stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Westmoreland County according to a criminal complaint.

Two men, Abel De Jesus Diplan, 36, of Philadelphia, and Any Crijleipy De Leon Jiminez, 27, of Bronx, N.Y., were arrested during the stop and are being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on drug charges.

Just before 1:15 p.m. a trooper stopped a Jeep Grand Cherokee near mile marker 99 in Donegal Township for failing to properly signal a turn while changing lanes, according to the filing.

After the two men consented to a search of the vehicle police found four kilogram-sized packages containing the drugs hidden in an electronic compartment.

Both men are scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on August 17.

Amanda Klein can be contacted at