For­mer priest charged with mo­lesta­tion

Ac­cused of abus­ing al­tar boys at church in Bucks County

The Morning Call - - LOCAL/STATE - By Chris­tian Menno

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.


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