PA--Abuse case vs. Pgh priest settles

For immediate release: Tuesday, March 29

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, 314 645 5915 home, [email protected])

Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik has settled – and kept silent about - another child sex abuse and cover up case against a child molesting Catholic cleric who worked/lived in Wexford and Sewickly. Catholics and citizens should ask him “How many other cases have you secretly settled in your nine years as head of the Pittsburgh diocese?”


In the early 1980s, Fr. John P. Connor was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in New Jersey. Prosecutors and diocesan attorneys struck a deal that if Connor admitted to the abuse stayed out of trouble for a year his record would be erased. He was sent to a treatment center for child molesting clerics at Southdown Institute in Canada.

Despite this, Pittsburgh Catholic officials quietly let Fr. Connor come to Pennsylvania and quietly work at St. Alphonsus Church in Wexford from 1986-88. Ironically, this was right around the time then-Fr. Zubik, a Sewickly native, was named administrative secretary to then-Pittsburgh Bishop Anthony Bevilaccqua. We find it very hard to believe Zubik – a top diocesan official and Sewickly native -didn’t know a predator priest was living in his hometown.

Now, Bishop Zubik must disclose Fr. Connor’s whereabouts and aggressively seek out others he has hurt.  And Zubik must address a key, troubling question: Why, despite decades of pledges of “openness,” is the settlement against him being announced by the victim and his attorney and not by Bishop Zubik and his staff?

Bishop Zubik should also go to every place where Fr. Connor worked, and beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes to call police. We believe it’s possible Fr. Connor might still be criminally charged for child sex crimes. But not if Bishop Zubik and his colleagues continue to say and do as little as possible.

(A photo of and more information about Fr. Connor is available at

The first US predator priest attracted national headlines a full 30 years ago. All US bishops promised to be “transparent” about clergy sex crimes a full 14 years ago. It’s appalling that even now, Bishop Zubik and his colleagues are breaking their pledges and being secretive even after an abuse report is deemed credible. And it’s appalling that deeply wounded child sex abuse victims must publicly prod Bishop Zubik to do what the Gospel parable of the lost sheep mandates that he do – leave the rest of the flock, go out into the dark and the cold, seeking the one wounded individual who was assaulted as a child by a priest and is still suffering as an adult.

For the safety of kids, Bishop Zubik should also post the names of all accused predators on his diocesan web site. About 30 US bishops have done this. This is the absolute bare minimum every bishop should do to safeguard the vulnerable, heal the wounded and expose the truth. It’s just wrong for bishops to recruit, educate, ordain, hire, transfer and shield child molesting clerics and then do little or nothing to warn the public about them once abuse reports against them are made.

We hope this settlement will provide some comfort to Fr. Connor’s victim. We also hope it will encourage others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to come forward, expose predators, protect kids, deter cover ups and start healing.

Remember this settlements – and who disclosed it, the victim and his attorney – the next time someone claims that Catholic officials are “open” and “transparent” about clergy sex crimes and cover ups these days. It’s just not true.

Catholics and citizens must continue to rely on courageous victims, determined journalists and our secular justice system to warn parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners and the public about known, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.

We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions – especially in Pittsburgh – to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling journalists, get justice by calling attorneys, and get comfort by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted and cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.

NOTE – About 14 years ago, Fr. Connor went reportedly sent to live in a retirement home for priests in New Jersey. Bishop Zubik should disclose whether this did, in fact, happen and whether Fr. Connor is still there or not.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected])  

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  • Michael Ference
    commented 2016-03-30 10:01:27 -0500
    Did Allegheny County DA’s office protect predators over children?

    If it weren’t such a serious matter, I would find it laughable that Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. has announced plans to “revisit some of the matters” during the tenure of one-time Pittsburgh Catholic Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua now that the former cardinal of the Philadelphia archdiocese has been accused of transferring and possibly covering up crimes of priests accused of sexual abuse and never warning the unsuspecting parishioners in the new churches.

    Perhaps Zappala can start by “revisiting” documentation that I provided years ago to two Allegheny County Detectives (Logan and Andrews) regarding an alleged cover-up that inspired the current McKeesport Police Chief to tell me that a grand jury investigation was merited. This case goes back to 1987, the last year Bevilacqua served in the Pittsburgh Diocese. The alleged cover-up involved a local priest giving a young man alcohol and drugs; there was a period of unconsciousness during which the boy may have been sexually abused, and then he eventually made his way to a city hospital. His parents were summoned, told what had happened and advised by medical staff not to report the alleged criminal activity.

    When I shared my research on this case years ago, Zappala and his detectives did nothing except blow me off.

    My guess is that newspapers from the Philadelphia area with legitimate investigative reporters will break this story first. Zappala and western PA publishers and editors who didn’t follow through on this years ago may be too busy removing egg from their face.

    The worst part of this story – Michael Unglo might still be alive if the right people had only done their job.

    Click the link below or cut and paste into your browser to view the Michael Unglo Just Be Foundation website.
  • Mary Persuit
    commented 2016-03-29 23:54:48 -0500
    After coming out of the Treatment Center for Sex Abuse, Father John P Connor was sent to St James in Sewickley in 1985 before going to Wexford..Read story below ….there have been other cases of sex abuse there that have yet to see the light
  • Mary Persuit
    commented 2016-03-29 19:11:40 -0500
    Ask where Faher Dan Valentine is while you are it ….he was a fixer for Father Wellinger a SERIAL ABUSER at Holy Spirit before moving to St James in Sewickley and ending up in his own scandal….if he was so innocent why is he no where to be found?….it is rumored that Zubic was told to come to Sewickley to make it look good…Keith Rothfus is a Republican House member …go figure….and Zubic is part of Tom Monaghan’s " Legatus"…a Rich Businessmen’s Club for Right Wingers ….Tom Monaghan thought Bevilacqua was INVALUABLE ..……..POOR BISHOP ZUBIC HAD A TOUGH TIME !!…..PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Sources close to the investigation tell the KD Investigators that Father Daniel Valentine’s Facebook posts involved an invitation to a minor to drink alcohol and that they have found pornography on his computer.

    Bishop David Zubik says while he is not aware of these specific allegations, the prospect of another priest under suspicion is more than disheartening.

    “Obviously, all of us are saddened by it,” he said. “I would be less than honest with you to tell you I lose a lot of sleep over this stuff.”

    These are tough times for Bishop Zubik as Father Valentine becomes the third priest accused inappropriate behavior involving minors in the past several months.
  • Michael Ference
    commented 2016-03-29 14:36:25 -0500
    Trick or Treat Bishop David Zubik
    Mike Ference

    Mike Ference

    I sent this press release out in 2013 around Halloween. It’s time to repost. I met a woman who was friends with the victim who I have described in the press release. I’m hoping to interview her soon. She talked to the victim the night that Father John Wellinger drugged him. That’s right a witness is stepping forward to tell us what the victim went through the night that Father John Wellinger drugged him.

    It’s a shame that Donald Wuerl, David Zubik and all the other Roman Coward clerics who covered up crimes in the Pittsburgh Diocese don’t simply come forward and tell the truth and really help survivors heal.

    For Immediate Release
    Contact: Mike Ference
    [email protected]
    Bishop David Zubik

    Bishop David Zubik

    Pittsburgh, PA – October 29, 2013 — If ever there was cleric gone wild who should be dredged up on devil’s night, Father John Wellinger is that evil spirit. As an advocate for clergy sex abuse victims for almost a quarter of a century I’m convinced that the Pittsburgh Diocese concealed Wellinger’s criminal activities with the help of law enforcement authorities, the university and medical community, elected officials at all levels of government, legal community and of course plenty of hierarchy from the Roman Catholic Church.

    How could this to happen? We now know that protecting predator priests, clerics and the institutional church trumps God’s most precious commodity – innocent children. It’s the standard method of operation in every diocese and in every country.

    On Thursday, October 31, 2013, in downtown Pittsburgh on the Boulevard of the Allies in front of the Pittsburgh Diocesan headquarters I’ll pass out literature outlining who knew what, where, when and why about the devastation caused by one predator priest Father John Wellinger and how everything was covered up.

    Here are some of the details.

    Sometime in 1987, possibly March, while Anthony Bevilacqua was serving as bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese; Wellinger allegedly drugged and possibly raped and sodomized a University of Pittsburgh student. The alleged crime took place in the student’s apartment that was shared with his brother, also enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh. According to the victim, who I interviewed, he was knocked out for hours. Awakening, he intuitively called 911. Sadly, that’s when his real nightmare began.

    Running down the stairs and into the street to meet the Pittsburgh paramedics, the teenager would be whisked away to Presbyterian Hospital emergency room (now University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). According to the victim, he was admitted, but never examined by a doctor. Keep in mind this young man was given a drug that knocked him out, administered by a lay person with very bad intentions. Wellinger also provided alcohol, yet no doctor wanted to be bothered by this case.


    Could it be that the call to 911, answered by Pittsburgh paramedics, was the first step in alerting Pittsburgh Diocesan officials that one of their own had harmed another, again? Would diocesan officials then alert hospital officials to avoid contact with the patient?
    Cardinal Donald Wuerl

    Cardinal Donald Wuerl

    Or, is it more reasonable to assume that medical personnel, sworn to care for and help others in need, would just say no to a young man drugged and possibly raped and sodomized by a Catholic priest? I don’t think so. An emergency room doctor, spending so much money on medical school and with so much to lose, would never make that call.

    Was this normal protocol during the Bevilacqua years as bishop when priest after priest was charged with molesting minors? Bevilacqua even welcomed known predator priests into the Pittsburgh Diocese, Father John P. Connor being one of them. It’s called passing the trash from one diocese to the next. This year I spoke to a victim of Connor from the north hills section of Pittsburgh. How many other victims of Connor, just like Wellinger, are still suffering.

    We now know how badly the Bevilacqua regime treated children in the Philadelphia Archdiocese since two separate and distinguished district attorneys from Philadelphia had the courage to protect children over dysfunctional, super sex freaks. Is it more reasonable to think Bevilacqua would protect sexual perverts only on the eastern side of Pennsylvania or that his criminal behavior would be congruent and consistent across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?

    Sadly, Allegheny County district attorneys have done more to protect video poker parlors than children abused by grown men in priestly garb. If I’m wrong, please let the current or a past district attorney of Allegheny County or, any elected official for that matter, stand and sing your praise.
    Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua

    Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua

    According to the victim, Wellinger trailed him to the emergency room, the victim alerted the attending nurse on duty that he, Wellinger was the priest who drugged him. Still nothing was done. Security was not alerted, police were not called. The teenager would simply leave with his parents for a long ride home.

    My interview with the victim was not the first time I was made aware of this event. As early as January of 1990, former Clairton Public Safety Director William Scully, a seasoned law enforcement officer, would sit down with my wife and me, in our own living room and tell us firsthand his knowledge of this alleged crime. Scully even provided me with details, notes and instructions to contact the victim’s parents to get all the facts.

    There’s much more to this story, sadly, the victim’s mother was also traumatized by Wellinger. Just one more reason the crime and the priest were able to blackmail all parties concerned, so charges would never be made and Wellinger would never be held accountable.

    Looks like this Trick or Treat season, Bishop David Zubik has two choices; fess up or continue to flip the bird to victims of ruthless, sexual predators.
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