Church sex abuse victim disputes that diocese wouldn't be aware of claim

Church sex abuse victim disputes that diocese wouldn't be aware of claim

PITTSBURGH — How are sex abuse claims made against the Catholic church?

New allegations were made Wednesday against a priest in the Greensburg diocese and there was a discrepancy about how that claim was reported.

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Diocese officials said they only learned about the abuse claim against the Rev. Joseph Bonafed this week.

But the victim said they first reported it to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro's office in April.


Another victim told Channel 11 he's skeptical of any claim that a diocese isn't aware of complaints about priests.

"They can throw mud back at us, but we're still coming and we're not going anywhere," said Jim VanSickle, who told Channel 11 he's counseled several new victims who've come forward in the wake of the child sex abuse scandals in the Pittsburgh and Greensburg dioceses.

VanSickle is an abuse survivor who has worked closely with Shapiro's office and knows how the state's abuse hotline works.

"They're going to take your information down and then an agent is going to return your call at some point and find out what your information and find out what they can do," VanSickle said. "They may even send out an agent to interview you and gather documents."

Channel 11 reported Wednesday that the Greensburg diocese removed Bonafed from two Westmoreland County parishes after a victim's relative called the diocese to report an allegation of abuse.

The diocese said that victim had called the abuse hotline in April, but the state never told them.

"Yeah, I think the information needs to be disseminated, but we're talking 700 calls," VanSickle said. "From what I've seen from Josh Shapiro, there's no way anything's going to fall through the cracks."

Channel 11 contacted Shapiro's office and asked how many people are answering the abuse hotline, where those reports are filed and if a diocese is notified immediately.

"Since January, the Office of Attorney General has received hundreds of calls to its clergy sexual abuse hotline, which are received and reviewed by Agents within our office. Every call to the hotline alleging criminal activity is investigated, documented and, when appropriate, notifications are made."

We also reached out to the Pittsburgh diocese about whether this has happened to them, but our inquiry went unanswered.