Eight priests who served locally, including two former principals at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School, were named Wednesday by the Diocese of Harrisburg in a list of clergy and seminarians who have been the subject of allegations of sexual abuse of children.
The Revs. Joseph Pease, William Haviland, Charles Procopio, Daniel Mahoney, Francis Hudak, Thomas Ronald Haney and Philip DeChico and Msgr. Robert Maher are listed among the 71 alleged abusers. Haney and DeChico served as principals at Lourdes from 1967 to 1976 and 1979 to 1986, respectively.
The information released by the diocese does not include when or where the alleged incidents occurred. It does include a brief description of the abuse and whether the accused is still alive. Of the eight with local ties, all but Pease are deceased.
Bishop Ronald Gainer issued an apology Wednesday, stating he hopes to “salve some of these historic wounds with the healing touch of transparency.”
“The diocese has unfortunately, at times, been the home of men originally called to the service of God who, for reasons unknown and unfathomable, instead ignored that summons and turned to the pursuit of heinous personal ends,” Gainer wrote. “That conduct has left a legacy of pain and sorrow that is still being felt. On behalf of the Diocese of Harrisburg, I apologize for these actions.”
The diocese issued its findings just days after the state Supreme Court ruled that a nearly 900-page grand jury report on sex abuse in six dioceses, including Harrisburg, can be made public later this month.
Gainer said the diocese was prepared to publish its findings in 2016, but honored a request by the state to withhold the information in order to protect a grand jury investigation.
He said the diocese did not make an assessment of credibility or guilt about the allegations or the underlying conduct because its historical investigations and recordkeeping were “inadequate in many cases to form a firm platform for the assessment of credibility or guilt.”
Gainer said he was compelled to include the names of men who were only the subject of an allegation of abuse after they were deceased in an effort to confirm, for those “brave survivors” who have come forward and those who still have not, that the diocese has “heard their cries and taken them seriously.”
Details on those accused
• Haney, who died in 2012, was accused while still living of inappropriate touching and comments toward a child. After his death, he was accused of sexual abuse of a child by the survivor. He was ordained in 1958. He served as an assistant pastor at St. Anne’s Church in Lancaster and assistant to the principal at Lancaster Catholic High School in Harrisburg prior to becoming principal at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School in June 1967. He remained at Lourdes until 1976.
• DeChico, who died in 2006, was accused following his death of sexual abuse of a child by the survivor. He was ordained on April 27, 1974. He was an assistant to the principal at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional High School from 1976 to 1979, before becoming principal from 1979 to 1986. Other assignments include administrator at St. John the Baptist in Mount Carmel and principal at Lebanon Catholic High School from 1986 to 1996.
• Hudak, who died in 2005, was accused following his death of sexual abuse of a child by the survivor. Hudak was ordained on May 28, 1955. His ministry began as an assistant at Assumption B.V.M. parish in Kulpmont. Other assignments included Saint Ann’s in Lancaster, Holy Cross in Mount Carmel, St. Pius X in Selinsgrove, St. Joseph’s in Shamokin and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mount Carmel.
• Haviland, who died in 2017, was accused of sexual abuse of a child (it does not specify when). He was ordained on May 19, 1962. He served as an assistant or chaplain at numerous churches, including Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament in Harrisburg and St. Edward’s in Shamokin. He also pastored at the then-newly merged Saint Michael the Archangel in Sunbury and St. Thomas More in Northumberland. He retired in 2010 and lived at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary in Elysburg.
• Mahoney, who died in 2007, was accused following his death of sexual abuse of a child by the survivor and by another person. He was ordained on May 10, 1952. He was assigned to several churches, including St. Patrick’s in York; St. Edward’s in Shamokin, where he was also principal of the school; and St. Joseph’s in Shamokin. He was instrumental in establishing Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School.
• Procopio, who died in 1997, was a priest at St. Peter’s in Mount Carmel and is accused of inappropriately touching and kissing minors.
• Maher, who died in 1990, was accused following his death of “multiple” allegations of sexual abuse of children. A native of Shamokin, he was ordained in 1937 and served from 1947 to 1961 as superintendent of schools for the diocese. He was also the commencement speaker for the Our Lady of Lourdes Class of 1975.
• Pease was accused of “multiple” allegations of sexual abuse of a child. He served three churches in York during the 1960s and ‘70s, was administrator of St. Paul’s Chapel in Atlas, and executive coordinator of Holy Spirit School and pastor of Divine Redeemer parish, both in Mount Carmel, until Dec. 13, 2002, when he resigned following admission to officials of the diocese that details of an allegation of inappropriate contact with an adolescent in the 1972 were true.