Friday, September 16, 2005


Man sues diocese for alleged sex abuse by former priest

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. - A Somerset County man sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown this week claiming he was molested by a priest, who was defrocked last year.

In his lawsuit, 39-year-old Michael Knecht claims the Rev. Joseph Gaborek Jr. sexually abused him in 1982 at St. Michael's Catholic Church in West Salisbury, about 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

The lawsuit, filed in Blair County court, claims state police did not pursue sex-abuse charges against Gaborek because diocese officials said the priest would get treatment.

Knecht claims the late Bishop James J. Hogan eventually transferred the priest to St. Thomas More parish in Roaring Springs and St. Anne's parish in Claysburg, where Gaborek was in contact with children.

State police said they are reviewing the lawsuit. Diocese officials said Knecht was offered compensation and counseling.

A message left by The Associated Press at a telephone number listed under Gaborek's name was not immediately returned Thursday night.

Knecht said in his lawsuit Gaborek would ask him to do chores at St. Michael's Church. Knecht claims he was abused at the rectory, where he was asked to stay one night by Gaborek. After several similar incidents that summer, Knecht ran away, the lawsuit states.

Gaborek, who served in parishes in Cambria and Somerset counties before he was suspended about 17 years ago, was defrocked in February 2004.

See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.


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