Archdiocese never goes public about a Philadelphia priest accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1981

A lawsuit has been filed in New Jersey against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, accusing Fr. Peter Foley of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a trip to the New Jersey shore in 1981. Fr. Foley, now 83, provided a statement to an Inquirer reporter from a Church-run retirement facility in Upper Darby. The cleric denied the allegations but said, "I did give the kid alcohol, but that’s as far as it went." Asked why he would serve alcohol to a minor, Fr. Foley replied, “We were at the Shore.”

Fr. Foley was on the faculty at Cardinal Dougherty High School in Philadelphia in the 1980s. According to the news report and court filing, the priest sexually abused the boy in Pennsylvania and then took him on a trip to New Jersey. SNAP stands with the victim in this case and we applaud his strength and courage in seeking truth and justice.

The lawsuit also said that the Archdiocese acknowledged the priest’s “misconduct” after an investigation and imposed restrictions on his clerical work in June. The plaintiff's attorneys faulted the Church for waiting so long to act. We wonder exactly when accusations against Fr. Foley were first raised, and also why the priest remains on the list of Archdiocesan clergy if he is subject to restrictions?

But what is most disturbing to us about this situation is that if the Archdiocese acknowledged "misconduct" by Fr. Foley in June of 2021, why was this information not disclosed to the faithful? We believe the Archdiocese has an obligation to share this information, especially with the parishes and schools where the priest worked: St. Alphonsus in Maple Glen, St. Justin Martyr in Narberth, Blessed Virgin Mary in Darby, St Francis of Assisi in Norristown, St. Philip Neri in Lafayette Hill, St. Martin of Tours in New Hope, St. Jude in Chalfont, St. Katherine of Siena in Wayne, St. Christopher in Philadelphia, Cardinal Dougherty High School in Philadelphia, and LaSalle College High School in Wyndmoor. 

We are grateful to Catholics4Change for focusing media attention on this case. In a statement provided to SNAP Communications Manager, Mike McDonnell, Kathy Kane of C4C wrote, "Once again another child sex abuse investigation conducted in secret by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia comes to light. Foley’s name remains on the Archdiocese clergy list as a priest with full faculties although the lawsuit states that he is under some restrictions."

Publicly identifying an accused perpetrator helps survivors heal and also provides encouragement for other victims to come forward. We are deeply concerned about how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, despite the promises made in the Dallas Charter, appears to continue to try to keep information about abusers hidden from parishioners.

CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, Communication Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]  Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President (814-341-8386, [email protected] )

(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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