Former priest charged with molestation
Accused of abusing altar boys at church in Bucks County
TULLYTOWN – A former Catholic priest who served at a Bucks County church has been charged with molesting two altar boys for several years, authorities said Tuesday at a news conference.
Francis Trauger, now 74, is accused of sexually abusing the children while serving in St. Michael’s Church in Tullytown between 1993 and 2003, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said. He said the abuse began in the mid-1990s.
Trauger “abused his position of power in the name of God” in sexually assaulting the boys, Weintraub said. He urged other potential victims to come forward.
“I can only imagine the shame and the horror that they felt,” Weintraub said at the news conference announcing the charges in Tullytown not far from the church and school on Levittown Parkway.
Trauger was defrocked in 2005. Other allegations of Trauger sexually abusing boys at other parishes he served at were documented in the Philadelphia grand jury report on clergy abuse within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
However, the grand jury report claims the church knew of previous allegations against Trauger and transferred him multiple times to other parishes that operated schools.
Weintraub said there was nothing to indicate that the Archdiocese was previously aware of the St. Michael’s allegations before reporting them to authorities in August 2018.
“It’s my understanding that St. Michael’s was his last assignment,” said Weintraub. “Unfortunately, it was one assignment too many for these two young men.”
The New York resident turned himself into police and was arraigned Tuesday morning in Bristol Township. He was released on $250,000 unsecured bail.
A message left with Trauger’s attorney Brian P. McVan was not immediately returned Tuesday.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, one of the alleged victims, now 31, told investigators he was molested by the priest around the year 2000, reporting that the abuse spanned his 6th to 8th grade years at the school. The abuse occurred during the time he would don his altar boy robe while preparing for Mass, according to the affidavit.
Investigators say they also spoke to a 35-year-old man who reported being molested by Trauger at the age of approximately 12, around 1996, also while he put on his altar boy robe.
Weintraub said the statute of limitations for charging crimes in this case was retroactively changed to include reports from any victim abused within the time period of 1993 through 2003.
“I pray that there are no other victims. I fear there are. If there are, we want to help them,” the DA said, noting that counselors with Network of Victim Assistance are standing by. He also referred any potential victims to Tullytown police Sgt. Phil Kulan at 215-945-0999, ext. 225 or Bucks County Detective Lt. David Kemmerer at 215-9496354.
The Archdiocese has been compliant in the Bucks County investigation, Weintraub added.
In a statement issued Tuesday, spokesman Kenneth Gavin said the Archdiocese immediately reported the St. Michael’s allegations to the district attorney’s office upon learning of them last year. He urged potential victims to contact the Victim Assistance Office, Office for Investigations or local law enforcement.
Attending Tuesday’s news conference was Michael McDonnell, who said he was sexually abused by Trauger in 1981 at St. Titus Parish in East Norriton.
The 50-year-old says he’s unable to pursue criminal charges because the statute of limitations on his case is up, but it isn’t stopping him from speaking out against the church, which he claims allowed Trauger to continue to accumulate victims. He said Trauger was transferred to different parishes six times after 1981.
“I feel for them. I feel for their families,” McDonnell said of the alleged victims from St. Michael’s.
“I am elated that the wheels of justice are moving forward toward the predators and help to expose them and the institutions that enable them,” he said.
Prior to St. Michael’s, Trauger spent time at St. Joseph’s in Aston, Annunciation B.V.M in Philadelphia, St. Matthew’s in Conshohocken, St. Francis deSales’ in Philadelphia, St. Matthew’s in Philadelphia, St. Titus’ in East Norriton, Holy Cross in Springfield and St. Leo’s in Philadelphia.