State

Diocese sex abuse report spurs 150 calls to hotline

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane speaks about the 147-page report on sexual abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese was made public at a news conference, on March 1.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane speaks about the 147-page report on sexual abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese was made public at a news conference, on March 1. The Associated Press, file

About 150 calls have been made to a hotline established for people to provide information relating to the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, according to a release Tuesday from Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The hotline — 888-538-8541 — is manned by the people who investigated the diocese for the past two years. It went live the same day that Kane released the grand jury’s report. It is manned from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Kane released the results of the 37th statewide investigating grand jury, a report that showed a pattern of not just sexual abuse and activity but the cover-up of actions by more than 50 priests and other religious leaders.

Criminal conduct outlined in the grand jury’s report cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired, abusers are deceased or because victims are unable to testify in a court of law.

The attorney general’s investigators, however, will pursue new leads.

One call could change everything.

Kathleen Kane

“The victims need to be heard,” Kane said. “In many cases, they have waited years to speak about the abuse they suffered. We want to assure them that they will be taken seriously.”

There are nine priests in the report who were attached to Centre County parishes or positions: the Rev. Martin Cingle, a former priest at Our Lady of Victory in State College; the Rev. Robert Kelly, last posted to Philipsburg’s Sts. Peter and Paul Parish; former OLV pastor the Rev. Martin McCamley; former St. John the Evangelist pastors the Rev. Dennis Coleman and the Rev. William Crouse; former Sts. Peter and Paul priest the Rev. Joseph Gaborek; St. Michael’s of Clarence one-time pastor the Rev. William Kovach; another OLV former priest, the Rev. Gerard Ream; and the Rev. George Koharchik, formerly of St. John’s in Bellefonte.

Coleman, Crouse and Ream are deceased. Cingle and Kelly were suspended in 2015. Koharchik was suspended in 2012. Gaborek was dismissed in 2004. Kovach and McCamley are retired.

Alleged victims, including senior citizens who had yet to speak with investigators, called the hotline.

Investigators encourage them to contact the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, which works to put victims in touch with counseling and therapy service and maintains a statewide listing of service providers for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Victims also are encouraged to call 888-772-7227 to find a local rape crisis center.

“One call could change everything,” Kane said. “The right information could create a new lead for our investigators. That is why it is so important for those with information to reach out to us.”

Shawn Annarelli: 814-235-3928, @Shawn_Annarelli

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