Another Abuser Sentenced Thanks to Secular Investigations

A former Pennsylvania Catholic priest who was named as an abuser in the 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury report has been sentenced to five years probation for his crimes. While we would have hoped for a stronger sentence to better protect children, we are happy that yet another perpetrator has been identified and convicted thanks to the work of secular law enforcement professionals.

A.G. Josh Shapiro uncovered the details about ex-priest John Allen’s crimes and published them in his bombshell grand jury investigation into clergy abuse and cover-up in six Pennsylvania dioceses. Most disturbingly, thanks to A.G. Shapiro and his team, we know that Catholic officials in Harrisburg had been aware of Allen’s abusive tendencies since at least the 1970s. Without the involvement of the attorney general’s office, Allen would have been able to go the rest of his life without facing justice due to the cover-up perpetrated by the Diocese of Harrisburg.

This story is another example of how justice and prevention, delayed though they may be, are possible with the involvement of secular society. Catholic officials were happy to keep information about this abuser internal in order to protect their reputations and their assets, but police and prosecutors focused instead on protecting children and the communities in which we live. Thanks to law enforcement's work, Allen will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and the public will be more informed.

We hope this story will inspire other attorneys general and prosecutors around the country to look deeper into the issue of clergy abuse within their communities. We know that the “playbook” uncovered by A.G. Shapiro is in use by Catholic officials worldwide, and there are surely hidden predators in every state that pose a danger to children. Only through the involvement of secular law enforcement can those abusers be identified and punished so that children and vulnerable adults are safer.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

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