AG investigating claims that priest, nun sexually abused Beaver man in 1970s

AG investigating claims that priest, nun sexually abused Beaver man in 1970s

After more than three decades of silence, a man who says he was sexually abused by a priest and a nun in Beaver is speaking out and working with state investigators.

Johnny Hewko was an elementary student in the 1970s at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, in Beaver, which is where he said the abuse happened. Hewko said he was abused once a week for nearly three years.

Hewko said it had a devastating impact on his life. He did poorly in school, turned to alcohol and drugs and had difficulty holding down a job. He credited the support around him for keeping him together.

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"I've been blessed to have a good group around me that when my faith gets small they help me bring it back," said Hewko.

In 2009, Hewko approached the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese and told it his story. In a letter to him, the diocese wrote, "After extensive interviews ...we are unable to confirm independently the allegation of sexual abuse by either the principal or the pastor who is deceased.”

Hewko had several meetings with the diocese, where it offered to pay for counseling for him. Hewko refused.

A spokesperson for the diocese told WPXI, "We followed our procedures and informed the district attorney of Beaver County at that time of this allegation.”

The Beaver County District Attorney's Office confirmed receiving the complaint, but declined to investigate because the statute of limitations had expired.

"A person could abuse a child, and if you find that person 20 years (later), and one day and they could even admit to you, ‘Yes, I did that to a child, but you should have been here yesterday.’ It just boggles my mind," Hewko said.

Hewko now has renewed hope, however.

In 2016, the Pennsylvania attorney general launched a wide-ranging investigation into clergy sex abuse in the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese. The diocese said it turned Hewko's allegations over to the attorney general, and Hewko said he has spoken to investigators.

"I can't say much on that, but wow, to have someone like that decide we are going to take a look at that -- it's huge. I'm sure not just me but many people out there were like, ‘Wow these people are coming to our aid,’” he said. “I think I’ve been very clear with the diocese that I'm in this until my last breath. And it's not just for me. It's for everyone. Abuse is abuse.”