Skip to comments.Allentown, PA Diocese settles abuse allegations against retired priest for $275K
Posted on 09/01/2003 4:23:17 AM PDT by Dr. Scarpetta
In a rare example of public disclosure, the Diocese of Allentown, PA announced Friday it has agreed to settle allegations of abuse by a retired priest for $275,000.
The allegations by a 15-year-old boy resulted in criminal charges last year against the Rev. Edward R. Graff, who served the Allentown Diocese for 30 years before retiring to Texas in 1992.
Although no lawsuit was ever filed, the teen from Texas accused Graff of abusing him several times last year.
Authorities arrested Graff last Oct. 4 in the Texas panhandle on charges he sexually assaulted the boy. Afterward, about 30 MEN IN TEXAS AND PENNSYLVANIA accused him of sexually abusing them when they were 12 to 17 years old, Texas investigators reported.
Graff, who had taught at Pius X High School in Bangor more than 40 years ago, died last November after breaking his hip in jail while awaiting court proceedings. He was 73.
Graff's attachment, called "incardination," to the Allentown Diocese would have made it hard for the local diocese to legally cut ties with Graff, diocese officials said Friday.
The diocesan insurance carrier and legal counsel recommended that the diocese settle. The insurance carrier will pay $200,000 and the diocese will pay $75,000 from its self-insurance fund, Allentown Diocese Bishop Edward P. Cullen wrote in this week's edition of the diocesan newspaper, The AD Times.
"It is well known that in a trial it is very difficult for the Diocese of Incardination to avoid being held liable to some extent for the action of one of its priests," Cullen wrote in a letter about the settlement published in the newspaper.
The National Review Board in September will audit the Allentown Diocese's compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People which was initiated at a nationwide meeting of bishops last summer.
Cullen approved the settlement and went public with it "in accord with our diocesan practice of conveying to the faithful significant developments on this issue," he said.
Allentown Diocese spokesman Matt Kerr said this is the first settlement for sexual abuse allegations in the three years he has worked for the diocese. He could not recall any others.
"God alone knows what the future will bring to our diocese as regards this tragic scandal," Cullen wrote in his letter.
During his career, Graff served at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Easton, St. Elizabeth's in Pen Argyl, Pius X, and Our Lady Help of Christians in Allentown.
Graff's file was one of 23 that district attorneys from the Allentown Diocese's five-county region reviewed last summer for alleged abuses, prosecutors said at the time. They found no evidence to bring charges.
Rumors that Graff engaged in sexual misconduct during his stints at Lehigh Valley parishes were never substantiated but surfaced after Graff left the Allentown Diocese in 1988. Kerr has said Allentown Diocese records show Graff was sent to a New Mexico treatment facility to be treated for alcoholism.
While he never returned to Allentown, he remained a Diocese of Allentown priest until retiring in 1992. He was eventually put in charge of three parishes in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas.
In his letter, Cullen acknowledged the abuse issue has significantly affected parishioners.
"I am sorry to burden you with this development," he wrote. "Still, in my mind, not to convey the basic information to the faithful of the diocese is unacceptable. You have been outstanding in your love and support of both your church and your priests. I believe you should know what is happening in this sensitive area and I have the obligation to keep you apprised."
Kerr has given the following summary of Graff's career:
He was ordained in Philadelphia in 1955 and assigned to more than a dozen Pennsylvania churches in the next 33 years with the Allentown Diocese, Kerr said.
Starting in April 1957, Graff spent 13 months at St. Anthony's in Easton before moving to St. Elizabeth's in Pen Argyl, where he served for less than five months.
He taught at Pius X High School in Bangor from September 1958 to June 1962 and then studied at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana for a short time.
Graff moved back to the Lehigh Valley in 1963 and was assigned to Our Lady Help of Christians in Allentown.
In March 1964 he returned to St. Elizabeth's and that summer took over as vice principal at Pius X. From February 1965 to October 1969, Graff was assigned to five churches or parochial schools in the Reading area.
He then worked in Coplay and Catasauqua before moving back to Reading, where he served until 1988.
Reporter Jenna Portnoy can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About 30 MEN IN TEXAS AND PENNSYLVANIA accused him of sexually abusing them when they were 12 to 17 years old, Texas investigators reported.
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